NASCAR takeaways: Logano passes Keselowski on last lap for first win of 2023

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HAMPTON, Ga. – NASCAR Cup Series races in recent weeks have had some notable elements.

Joey Logano, who won in Las Vegas and Phoenix last fall to win the series championship, was a non-factor at those tracks to the surprise of many.

And then he won a race Sunday that wasn’t a surprise that he won, just that it didn’t end in a chaotic last-lap crash, as has been typical of events at Atlanta Motor Speedway since the repaving and reconfiguration before the 2022 season. .

Logano made a bold move to pass Brad Keselowski on the final lap to take his first win of the season and right his Team Penske ship a bit.

It earned Ford’s first win of the season after Chevrolet won the first four. Fords seem to be strongest on superspeedways, while Chevrolets seem to be strongest on other ovals.

“We know the situation we’re in this year and we know we have to be perfect all the time,” Logano said.

“And if there’s a team that can do it, it’s this team … And we know that when we get to tracks like this, we’re going to be really, really good and we’re going to have the dominant race cars and we’ve got to maximize days like this one, like we did.”

Atlanta Takeaways, where Keselowski finished second, followed by Christopher Bell, Corey LaJoie and Tyler Reddick.

Logano wins in Atlanta

Logano wins in Atlanta

Joey Logano makes a late push to pass Brad Keselowski for the checkered flag in the Ambetter Health 400.

Keselowski passed

Keselowski is considered one of the best drivers in superspeedway style events. Logan too.

Logano took advantage of a push from Corey Lajoie to pass Keselowski, who had led the previous 29 laps and managed to hold off the races of competitors.

“I’m disappointed that Joey got such a big run,” Keselowski said. “I have to take a look and see how the hell he did it. I’m not disappointed with my team.

“He made a great play, and he deserves credit for that. I don’t think there was any way to stop it without wrecking him.”

Logano and LaJoie were surprised they didn’t wreck.

“There was a great backhand shot from the outside lane to get Joey in front and out,” LaJoie said. “That’s usually when you see guys cross and destroy each other.

“It was nice to see that we were all professional and didn’t run over each other.”

Keselowski sums up his day

Keselowski sums up his day

Brad Keselowski discusses his second place finish in the Ambetter Health 400.

Harvick-Chastain Castaway

Kevin Harvick was leading the race when it looked like Ross Chastain was going to push him into the corner and Harvick spun, ending the day for himself, Chris Buescher, William Byron and Harrison Burton.

“I think he caught me so fast right there in the middle of the corner and then he got up on the back right side of the corner and went down again, and when he went down, he spun the thing,” Harvick said. .

“I don’t think he even hit me, but he started chattering the back tires and then I was in the lead.”

Chastain also said she didn’t think she hit Harvick.

“I’m just trying to help him push,” Chastain said. “We had covered a lot of ground. I don’t think I hit him.”

Harvick wrecks

Harvick wrecks

Kevin Harvick spins and wrecks along with Chris Buescher and Kyle Busch as Ross Chastain grabs the lead.

Grainy finishes for the top 5

Bell finished third on a day in which he had started at the back of the field due to a spin in qualifying that forced the team to repair the car on Saturday afternoon.

“I aborted the bottom and went to the top [with a lap to go]and gave the 22nd [of Logano] the bottom that finally got him the lead. This was disappointing.

“In the end, to come home third, I’m really happy with that.”

LaJoie was happy too. He said he didn’t think about helping Logano, his good friend, but that’s how he ended up at the end of the race. And LaJoie didn’t end up wrecked like he did when he battled up front last year for the win. He characterizes his organization with a smaller budget and currently 14th in the classification as positive.

“I got more confidence – running around these guys, these guys see me up there running with them [and] our day will come,” LaJoie said.

Reddick battled a digestive stomach ailment Sunday morning, where the team had John Hunter Nemechek on standby in case Reddick couldn’t finish the race. Reddick finished and finished well.

“It hasn’t quite worked out in terms of the time it took [me to make am move] “All in all, it was an okay day,” Reddick said.

Ambetter Health 400 Highlights

Ambetter Health 400 Highlights

Check out all the highlights from Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrassand register at FOX Sports NASCAR Newscast with Bob Pockrass.

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