Bristol, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Joey Logano claimed his third win in the Sprint Cup Series this season by taking Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Logano grabbed the lead from Matt Kenseth with 45 laps to go and then held off a hard-charging Brad Keselowski, his teammate at Team Penske, in the closing laps to win a Sprint Cup race at this 0.533-mile, high-banked oval for the first time. He beat Keselowski to the finish line by just 0.4 seconds.
The 24-year-old Logano joined Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Keselowski as those drivers with a series-leading three victories this season.
"I wasn't sure when I woke up this morning if we had a winning car or not, but [crew chief] Todd Gordon is a good salesman, and he pretty much sold me on thinking I had a winning car," said Logano, who led four times for a total of 76 laps. "The [No. 22] team made adjustments on it all night, and we got our third win of the year.
"What a year we're having. It's been so much fun. The past six or seven races have been unbelievable. We've been running up front."
Logano earned his sixth career win in NASCAR's premier series but considers this victory as perhaps his biggest one.
"This is like one the three biggest races of the year - the Bristol night race," he said. "To have this in the record books with your name on it is really cool."
A driver from Team Penske won all three NASCAR national touring series events at Bristol this week. Keselowski drove his No. 19 Ford to victory in Thursday's rain-delayed Camping World Truck Series race here, and Ryan Blaney won Friday's Nationwide Series event in Penske's No. 22 car.
Team Penske had a 1-2 finish in the Sprint Cup race.
"Joey ran a great race," Keselowski said. "Our car was about equal to Joey's. He just had better track position on me. It felt like a couple of times I was faster and then a couple of times he was faster. When I would get right behind him, I would get the dirty air. It just pushed too much to be able to do anything with him. That's what happened on that last lap. It just wouldn't stick. I really wanted to win for everybody on this [No. 2] team."
Team owner Roger Penske was not at Bristol, as the IndyCar Series is competing on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway in Northern California. Penske drivers Will Power and Helio Castroneves are currently 1-2 in the IndyCar championship standings. Just two races remain in that series this season.
Kenseth, who won the night race at Bristol one year ago, finished third. He inherited the lead during a caution on lap 434 when he opted not to pit. Carl Edwards, the winner of the spring event here in March, did not pit as well.
"I just knew that clean air was going to be worth more than new tires," Kenseth said. "Maybe we could have gotten tires and beaten those guys. We'll never know. I just had such a hard time. I knew clean air would cover up a lot of problems."
Kenseth remains winless this season after scoring a series-high seven victories in 2013.
Jimmie Johnson finished fourth after rebounding from two pit-road speeding penalties.
Kurt Busch placed fifth, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Edwards.
Jamie McMurray led the most laps with 148 but faded in the late going to finish eighth.
"I don't know what happened," McMurray said. "Our car got really tight with about 100 laps to go. We freed it up on the last pit stop, and it didn't really help."
Paul Menard and Greg Biffle completed the top-10.
Two multi-car crashes occurred during this 500-lap race. The first big wreck happened on lap 125 when Brian Vickers got into rookie Kyle Larson. Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola were also caught up in the accident.
The second major incident involved Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, the pole sitter, and Earnhardt on lap 161. Hamlin was leading at the time, but second- place runner Harvick moved up the track and hit the left rear of Hamlin in turn 1, causing him to spin around and make contact with the inside wall. His car then slid up the track and slammed into the side of Earnhardt.
At first, Hamlin was furious with Harvick. Hamlin threw his HANS (Head and Neck Support) device at Harvick's car when it circled around the track during the caution.
Hamlin could be facing penalties from NASCAR for his on-track actions. He later learned that Harvick had made a misjudgment going into the turn.
"I'm just frustrated because we had a good run going," Hamlin said. "Mistakes happen in racing. I believe that Kevin made a mistake tonight, and that's just part of it. I was just on the short end of the stick."
Hamlin's night came to an end early with a 40th-place finish. After lengthy repairs, Earnhardt returned to the track for a handful of laps before retiring from the race. He finished one spot ahead of Hamlin in 39th.
"I couldn't see what happened to Denny, but he got turned around or something and was coming up the track," Earnhardt said. "There was a lot of smoke, so I couldn't really judge the speed of his car to know whether I needed to be going up there and go around him on the top. I had to make that choice. I just went ahead and went to the top and ended up getting into him."
Harvick wound up finishing 11th after he was hit with a speeding penalty on pit road late in the race.
Jeff Gordon, the current points leader and winner of last weekend's race at Michigan, finished 16th. He now holds a 27-point advantage over Earnhardt.