Joey Logano had enough fuel this time.
A week after running out of gas while leading at Pocono with three laps to go, Logano passed Kevin Harvick on the final turn as Harvick ran dry to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International on Sunday.
Logano completed a weekend sweep after winning the Xfinity race on Saturday and gave Roger Penske his first Cup victory at The Glen. Logano also won the season-opening Daytona 500.
“What goes around comes around, I guess,” Logano said after a long tire-smoking burnout. “It’s cool to get through on the other end. I’m still just trying to catch my breath.”
Kyle Busch, who ran out of fuel on the last lap at Pocono while leading, finished second and moved to 30th in points, the cutoff to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup title as he continued his remarkable surge.
Harvick coasted home third, Matt Kenseth was fourth, and Kurt Busch fifth. Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Sam Hornish Jr. and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top 10.
Tony Stewart, who qualified third, was competing at Watkins Glen for the first time after missing the previous two Cup races at the track in the Finger Lakes of upstate New York. He was nursing a broken right leg two years ago and sat out last year’s race after the sprint car he was driving in a race at nearby Canandaigua struck and killed 20-year-old driver Kevin Ward Jr. the night before Stewart was scheduled to race at Watkins Glen.
On Friday, Stewart again had to revisit that tragedy. Attorneys representing the Ward family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Stewart, another hurdle in what has been a season without much hope until recently, and Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of Ward’s death.
Stewart finished last after his car broke a rear gear midway through the 90-lap race.
In the last road race of his NASCAR career, Jeff Gordon had brake problems and finished 41st to take another big hit in points.
AJ Allmendinger, the defending race winner and pole-sitter gunning for another victory that would have given a second Chase berth for the one-car JTG Daugherty team, led the first 20 laps with Martin Truex Jr. in tow, but he was passed the next time around and dropped to third as the No. 47 Chevy began to fade.
“Sorry man. I don’t think it’s going to happen today,” Allmendinger told crew chief Brian Burns while running in the top 10 just past the halfway point of the race. “I’m just hanging on there. They’re just eating me alive.”
Moments later, Allmendinger stopped on the track with an apparent power failure, eliminating him from contention. He finished 24th.
The race turned on strategy. Truex, who started second, pitted after a red flag just past the midpoint of the race as the top eight drivers stayed out.
Harvick, who pitted two laps before Truex, then gained the lead on a restart on lap 61, passing Kenseth and pulling out to a lead of over a half-second with Truex third.
Harvick’s crew told him he was two laps short on fuel as the race wound down, but he did enough conserving to salvage a podium finish. Truex’s chances disappeared when he suffered a flat left front tire and was forced to pit with 22 laps left around the 2.45-mile natural terrain course.
Busch, mired outside the top 20 after having to pit after the red flag, steadily mounted an aggressive charge and was fifth with 10 laps left and charged to second on the final lap.
“I ran hard that whole run,” said Busch, who has won four races since coming back from a broken leg and foot suffered in an Xfinity race at Daytona in February that forced him to miss the first 11 races of the Cup season. “I never quite got close enough to him. We couldn’t afford to run out of gas. We would have been back in the 30s. We’ve obviously got something clicking.”