Las Vegas — Joey Logano took the checkered flag at the 2022 South Point 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon. The victory moved him to the top of the NASCAR Playoffs points standings.
It all came down to pit stop strategy. For the last pit stop, Logano and his team decided on four new tires. That later gave him the edge he needed to win. On lap 265, Joey Logano passed Ross Chastain. The last three laps were a battle between Chevrolet and Ford. Las Vegas native Kyle Busch finished third in a Toyota. Pole winner Tyler Reddick finished a few spots back in sixth.
“We scored a bunch of points which don’t matter anymore because we won,” Logano said at the victory lane celebration. “It was a great spot to be in to get the Pennzoil Mustang into victory lane for the third time. This is a big one. We’re racing for a championship in a couple of weeks. This is the biggest advantage we could possibly have. Ross and I have a great relationship. We have a mutual understanding of how each other races. Coming down to the end, I had a tire advantage. My thoughts were I need to make sure I’m 100 percent sure I’m going to pass him. I knew what was on the line. I waited for that chance and took advantage of it.”
This was Logano’s third win at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for team Penske. It is his 30th win in the NASCAR Cup Series overall. Logano’s Martin of victory over Chastain was just 0.817 seconds.
“I feel like we’ve had a good shot every year,” Logano added at the post-race press conference. “We’ve done a great job as a team executing the playoffs. Now it’s down to one race. We got a few weeks to think about it. You have the opportunity to do something great you set back in February.”
As for the NASCAR Playoffs points standings, Logano is now leading with Ross Chastain just 21 points behind him. Chase Elliott is in third and Denny Hamlin sits in fourth.
Bubba Wallace won the first stage of the race. Ryan Blaney won the second stage. Logano won the third and final stage at the end of the race.
“Obviously, it turned out to be a great day,” said Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Logano. “Honestly, going into the race today, we weren’t confident in what we were going to have. We worked really hard ever since the Homestead test to try and get out mile-and-a-half program a little better. This track is unique with the high speed and the bumps you have to deal with. We had a little work to do after practice here. Fortunately, the adjustments we made… the car had speed. With our issues on pit road, we had to use strategy to win at the end.”
There were eight caution flags for a total of 42 laps. The first caution came out on lap 79 when Kyle Busch spun out on turn four.
On lap 96, Kyle Larson, car slightly tapped Bubba Wallace into the wall. Wallace then crashed into Larson. Both drivers got out of their cars and took their helmets off. That’s when Wallace got physical and shoved Larson in retaliation. Larson decided he did not want to fight with Wallace. NASCAR is reviewing the situation to determine if there will be any penalties for either driver.
Later on lap 104, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s Chevrolet collided with Chase Briscoe’s Ford. Lap 167 was the conclusion of the second stage of the race. JJ Yeley spun around in the grass in turn four on lap 195. On lap 229, Ryan Blaney hits the wall due to a tire issue. Kyle Busch lost his right front wheel on the track. Then, on lap 241, Daniel Suarez slid into the grass. Landon Cassill spun out on lap 247 for the final caution of the afternoon.
The 5th annual South Point 400 lasted 3 hours, 4 minutes and 10 seconds. The average speed during the race was 130.48 mph. There were 267 laps on the 1.5 mile track for a total of 400.5 miles. There were 18 lead changes making it an exciting race. Fans I spoke to said they had a great time at the track and are looking forward to returning.
“Oh, it was awesome, it was so fun,” said race fans Michelle and Gavin Walker from Henderson, Nev. “This was our first race. Our racer got knocked out early on but it was still fun. I don’t want to brag, but I predicted that Joey Logano was going to win. I just knew he was going to be driving really good here in Vegas. I even circled it on my program. We started in the bleachers and worked out way down. We were right there when the race finished. We had the chance to have the car drive right past us. Just a great experience.”
Courtney and Chris Edwards from Seattle, added, “This was the first race I’ve ever been to so it was a lot of fun. They got really close. I thought there was going to be a lot more wrecks but we lucked out until the last 50. I think it’s great that Joey won. I’m a Ford guy. Anytime a Ford driver wins, I’m cheering them on. We were rooting for Chase Briscoe but that last restart got away from him kind of. Go Joey! I think it’s fantastic that you can be up here in the Neon Garage and see all of the drivers and be up close to them. I think you can get a lot closer than you think you can which is great.”
“It was very exciting seeing all of the pit stops and seeing how people were jockeying the change in position,” said Samantha Schwarz, also from Seattle. “Yeah, Joey is one of the people I root for yeah. It was really incredible. We got to come into the pits. This is my first NASCAR race so it just blew it out of the park. It was really fun.”
Direct from Hollywood, Actor Vince Vaughn made an appearance during the pre race ceremony. Also appearing were: Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams, former Vegas Golden Knights captain Derek Engelland, and BMX star Ricardo Laguna. Legendary broadcaster Brent Musburger served as the grand marshal.
Las Vegas native driver Kurt Busch says he will miss the rest of the 2022 season due to health issues. He is recovering from a concussion he received during the July race at Pocono. Busch says he will race part-time in 2023 and then will retire from the sport.
Next up: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Homestead-Miami for the Dixie Vodka 400 next Sunday.