AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP)Joey Logano won his second NASCAR championship to give Roger Penske two titles in the same season with a victory in Sunday’s winner-take-all finale at Phoenix Raceway.
It was the fourth win of the season for Logano, who opened the year with a January win in an exhibition race at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in the debut of NASCAR’s new Next Gen car. Less than a month later, rookie teammate Austin Cindric won the Daytona 500 on Penske’s 85th birthday.
Will Power added the IndyCar championship to the Team Penske trophy case in September and Logano’s dominating run Sunday marked the first time Penske has won both the NASCAR and IndyCar championship in the same season.
”I knew going into this thing that we’re going to win the championship. I told the guys we were the favorite from Daytona, and we truly believed it, and that’s the difference,” Logano said. ”I had a good team with a bunch of confidence, and we had all the reason in the world to be confident. I’ve never been truly this ready for a championship race, and yeah, we did it, man. I can’t believe it.”
Logano was met after the win by his wife and 4-year-old son, Hudson, the oldest of his three children and only one to make the trip to Phoenix. Logano took Hudson by the hand and ran up the banking to collect the checkered flag.
His son skipped back down the track, waving the flag and holding his champion father’s hand. Logano had promised Hudson he’d win the championship.
”I told him he was going to meet me out here when we won the race, and I couldn’t be a liar to my son,” said Logano, who also got to give Hudson a ride inside the No. 22 Ford to the championship stage.
”I always wanted to do that with Hudson. He’s such a little car guy, so it was a special moment to ride together.”
It is the third Cup championship for Penske, who won with Brad Keselowski in 2012 and Logano’s first title in 2018. Logano joined Kyle Busch as the only active drivers with multiple Cup titles.
Logano won the pole and was never really challenged on Sunday as his Ford led 186 of the 312 laps, and was not the highest running title contender for only one lap.
Ross Chastain finished third in his championship race debut, and Christopher Bell was 10th. Bell raced hours after Joe Gibbs Racing learned vice chairman Coy Gibbs, son of the Hall of Fame team owner, died in his sleep at 49.
”You wake up this morning and you’re racing for a championship, you’re happy, you’re elated, and then your world comes crashing down,” Bell said. ”Whenever you get news like that, it definitely puts it in perspective that there’s much more to this outside of racing.”
Chase Elliott was spun by Chastain early in the final stage, his Chevrolet hit the wall and he was immediately out of contention. It snapped Hendrick Motorsports streak of two consecutive Cup titles.
NASCAR’s most popular driver won a career-high five races this year and the regular-season championship, but Elliott lost his shot at a second championship when he cut across the front of Chastain and Chastain refused to lift. The contact sent Elliott spinning into the wall, he dropped to 30th and down a lap during the repairs, and finished 28th.
Logano, who started his career with JGR and spent five seasons there before he was fired after the 2012 season, gave his regards to the Gibbs family after the win.
”I don’t know what to think, but obviously my condolences go to the Gibbs family,” Logano said. ”But just an incredible day for us, and kind of mixed emotions at the moment.”
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