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Joey Logano surges on final lap to win NASCAR Cup race at Atlanta

Joey Logano celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Joey Logano celebrates in victory lane after his NASCAR Cup victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday.
(Butch Dill / Associated Press)
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Joey Logano dominated early and then passed Brad Keselowski on the final lap to win NASCAR’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and end the early season domination of Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday.

Logano won the pole and led a strong showing of three straight Team Penske drivers in qualifying, but Keselowski looked like the Ford driver to beat late in the race. Keselowski had help from Corey LaJoie, but Logano got a push from Christopher Bell that proved decisive on the final lap.

Bell finished third in a Toyota and LaJoie finished a career-best fourth in a Chevrolet.

Weather permitting, NASCAR will race on the 2-mile oval at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana for the final time Sunday before the track is shortened to a half-mile.

Feb. 24, 2023

“The first win of the season always feels better,” said the reigning Cup champion, who led 141 of the 260 laps.

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Logano’s win ended a streak of four consecutive victories by Chevrolet to open the NASCAR Cup season, including back-to-back wins by William Byron of Hendrick.

Pushed by his Team Penske teammates Ryan Blaney and Austin Cindric, Logano passed Keselowski to regain the lead with 34 laps to go. Keselowski regained the lead to set up the last-lap drama.

After no cautions during the second stage, the competition — and crashes — picked up late in the race.

Kevin Harvick, who won in Atlanta in 2018 and 2020, was leading late when he was lost control while being pushed by Ross Chastain. Replays indicated Chastain’s Chevrolet didn’t hit Harvick’s Ford, but Harvick’s spin caused a major crash.

“I think he was just so close to me he caught me right in the corner,” Harvick said of Chastain. “The way he came from right to left took the car away from me.”

Byron called the wreck “just a part of racing.”

Another wreck involving the leaders followed 20 laps later when Aric Almirola blew a tire, causing a spin that also took out Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez.

Hendrick Motorsports’ four drivers had fill-in crew chiefs following the largest combined fine on one team in series history for modifying air-deflecting pieces last weekend at Phoenix Raceway. Hendrick was issued a combined $400,000 in fines along with four-race suspensions for the crew chiefs.

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