NASCAR Barometer: Logano Becomes Fourth 2022 Multiple Race Winner

NASCAR Barometer: Logano Becomes Fourth 2022 Multiple Race Winner

This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.

Ford-powered teams flexed their muscles early in the NASCAR Cup Series' inaugural visit to World Wide Technology Raceway. Chase Briscoe earned his first career pole, with Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric starting alongside. Ford drivers then went on to lead the first 65 laps of Sunday's race and capture the stage 1 victory with Cindric. Joey Logano was lurking in the final stage, though. The No. 22 got his chance at the lead for the first time late in the race and a battle between Kyle Busch and him blossomed in the final 50 laps. The pair were evenly matched with Logano unable to find a way back to the lead until a late caution set up an overtime finish. Logano was the one who got a better restart and slid in front of Busch in the first turn, only for Busch to repay the favor in turn 3. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver couldn't hold on to the move, however, and Logano slipped by again to drive away for the win, his second of 2022 after Darlington. 

Sunday's race may best be remembered for what happened deeper in the field, though. Ross Chastain seemed to be a magnet for contact and didn't earn any new friends through the afternoon. Contact first with Denny Hamlin set off a race-long conflict, only to have it magnified by contact with Chase Elliott, too. The antagonists weighed in after the race with Chastain taking full blame, but the story is bound to

Ford-powered teams flexed their muscles early in the NASCAR Cup Series' inaugural visit to World Wide Technology Raceway. Chase Briscoe earned his first career pole, with Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric starting alongside. Ford drivers then went on to lead the first 65 laps of Sunday's race and capture the stage 1 victory with Cindric. Joey Logano was lurking in the final stage, though. The No. 22 got his chance at the lead for the first time late in the race and a battle between Kyle Busch and him blossomed in the final 50 laps. The pair were evenly matched with Logano unable to find a way back to the lead until a late caution set up an overtime finish. Logano was the one who got a better restart and slid in front of Busch in the first turn, only for Busch to repay the favor in turn 3. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver couldn't hold on to the move, however, and Logano slipped by again to drive away for the win, his second of 2022 after Darlington. 

Sunday's race may best be remembered for what happened deeper in the field, though. Ross Chastain seemed to be a magnet for contact and didn't earn any new friends through the afternoon. Contact first with Denny Hamlin set off a race-long conflict, only to have it magnified by contact with Chase Elliott, too. The antagonists weighed in after the race with Chastain taking full blame, but the story is bound to continue as the season moves on and opportunities for payback present themselves. The next stop on that trail is Sonoma Raceway's tight and twisty circuit.

UPGRADE

Joey Logano – Logano joined the list of multiple 2022 winners in another victory at a new track, which is becoming a habit for him. He and the Ford contingent were quick throughout the weekend, and Logano qualified in the top 10. His race started in mediocre fashion, as he finished the first stage in the same position he started. However, the No. 22 finally made it to the lead on lap 208, setting up a duel to the finish with Kyle Busch. The pair battled intensely in the final laps with Busch just barely able to hold off the No. 22 machine when a final caution for Kevin Harvick set up an overtime finish. That late restart gave Logano the opening he needed to make a final push for the win to grab his second victory of the season after Darlington.

Ryan Blaney – Blaney's bad luck nearly continued Sunday with a rear-tire failure sending him to the back of the field during the second stage. However, a setback that could have ruined his afternoon ended up just being an inconvenience from which he was able to battle back. Despite him dropping down the running order, his pace coupled with the right decisions on pit road enabled him to climb back through the field to claim a fourth-place finish. The result was his fifth top-five of the year and an important result for his playoff hopes. Not having a victory yet in 2022, he continues to lead the points among nonwinners, the best place for him to be until that win arrives. Blaney has three top-10s and a best finish of third at Sonoma and he has shown himself to be one of the better drivers in the series on road courses.

Kurt Busch – Busch grabbed another stage win Sunday to add to his season accomplishments with his new team. He won it during a late caution for teammate Bubba Wallace in the second stage, which allowed much of the field to pit under caution. However, Busch skipped pitting for tires and instead opted to stay on track in the lead and ended up driving the final laps to the finish of the segment relatively comfortably out front. He ended the day with 12 laps led in third position to score his fourth top-five finish of the season. His veteran experience is already paying dividends for this young organization as it build toward a playoff run. Busch won at Sonoma in 2011 and finished sixth on the California road course last season in an impressive drive from the 30th starting position.

Austin Cindric – Team Penske Fords were strong at St. Louis with Cindric leading the bunch Saturday by qualifying on the outside of the front row to start the race. The rookie driver stayed tough in the first stage, winning the opening segment, too. It was one of his best drives since he won the Daytona 500 to start the season. He continued to do exactly what he needed in preparation for the playoffs, running all the laps and getting as much experience as possible. He finished the race 11th, his second 11th-place finish in the last three races, too. The next stop on the calendar may boost his confidence, too. Cindric was one of the best on road courses in the Xfinity Series and should be a driver fantasy players keep in consideration this week at Sonoma.

Erik Jones – Sunday was another strong showing from Jones and his No. 43 Petty GMS Motorsports team. The team made their return to the top 10 for the first time since Dover. It was the fifth of the year for Jones, who now heads to Sonoma 26 points behind Tyler Reddick in the final playoff position. Petty GMS has taken an obvious step forward with this new generation of car, making top-10 finishes more of a consistent outcome than in recent seasons when top-20 finishes were more the norm. Continuing to grab these consistent top-10s will not only make the team a playoff contender, but it could also put them in Victory Lane. This trip to Sonoma could be another for Jones to shine. He finished 11th there with Petty last season.

DOWNGRADE

Chase Briscoe – Ford power started the weekend strongly at World Wide Technology Raceway, and Briscoe was one of the benefactors of that step forward in performance. Briscoe turned the fastest lap in qualifying to score the first pole of his career Saturday, getting the weekend started on the right foot. Sunday he launched right into the lead at the start of the race and held a comfortable lead until bad luck hit in the form of tire failure, which forced him into a premature pit stop under green. He returned to the track and avoided falling two laps down, then used the wave around after the first stage to get back onto the lead lap. He made it to the finish on the lead lap but couldn't get back into the top 20, failing to convert the strong start to a top finish.

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin went from the high of winning a week ago at Charlotte to the low of getting knocked out of the way by Chastain. A solid punt into the rear of Hamlin's car sent the No. 11 skidding into the outside wall and off of race pace. For the remainder of the distance, Hamlin unsuccessfully attempted to exact revenge, lapping significantly slower than the race leaders. His day ended with him just one of two finishers not on the lead lap with a lowly 34th-place result. Hamlin has seven top-10 finishes from 15 Sonoma starts, including the last five consecutively. Fantasy players will have to watch closely, though. Both Hamlin and Chastain will be competing for their first series championship, and now the pair have a feud they'll have to manage as well.

Kevin Harvick – After benefitting from a recent run of top finishes, Harvick failed to capitalize on Ford's strength and left Sunday's trip to St. Louis with just five points in hand. The former champion qualified just 20th, failed to earn stage points in either segment and then crashed just a handful of laps short of the finish after a brake failure. It was a disaster of a weekend for Harvick, who is still winless in 2022. Most importantly, the miniscule points haul dropped him down the points standings and out of the playoff positions. Harvick now heads to the coming week's road course race at Sonoma two points behind the cutoff for the playoffs and needing to turn things around quickly. He did win at the California circuit in 2017, though.

Ross Chastain – Chastain was a lightning rod for controversy and contact Sunday. The two-time winner this season first smacked Hamlin in the rear bumper, setting off a race-long feud between the pair. Shortly after, the No, 1 squeezed his car into a tight spot in the middle of a pack of cars, ultimately colliding with the side of Elliott. Chastain came off better in both incidents, but then had to weather retaliation from both the No. 11 and No. 9 drivers as he worked to earn the best finish he could. Following the race, Chastain took responsibility for the contact and said he deserved whatever retribution would be heading his way. For a driver getting ready to compete for his first series championship, having to deal with the distraction of multiple on-track feuds is a very unfortunate situation.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Hendrick Motorsports – Has the Hendrick Motorsports teammates lost their edge? Ford started last weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway with the upper hand, and the normally competitive Hendrick cars didn't live up to their typical expectations Sunday either. Only one of the teammates finished in the top 10 positions in each stage, and none of the drivers were in the top 10 at the finish. The highest-placed Hendrick driver on Sunday was Kyle Larson who finished 12th. Sure, Elliott was knocked down the order by contact, but the team must be wondering where it missed the mark on pure pace. After the team started the season with the edge on the competition, it appears as though the rest of the field has narrowed the gap. This is a trend to monitor in coming weeks.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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