Toyota Owners 400

Joey Logano makes late-race charge to victory at Richmond (VIDEO)


When the dust settled, Joey Logano was smiling and several of his rivals were fuming.

All in all, just another short-track Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.

Logano was fourth on the final restart with nine laps to go, but roared past Jeff Gordon, teammate Brad Keselowski, and Matt Kenseth to claim the Toyota Owners 400 and his second checkered flag of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

But as Logano celebrated, Keselowski took exception to Kenseth’s racing in the final laps and brake-checked him on the cool down lap. When they returned to the pits, Keselowski angrily pointed at Kenseth before making a playful leap onto the hood of Logano’s car (which was parked at the time, thankfully).

And while that played out, TV cameras captured another argument in the garage between Casey Mears and Marcos Ambrose. The tiff escalated when Mears grabbed Ambrose by his firesuit and then climaxed with Ambrose punching Mears in the face before the two were broken up.

Ambrose and Mears finished 18th and 19th respectively, which shows just how fierce the tempers can be in Richmond’s tight quarters.

As for Logano’s charge to victory, it was an impressive one.

His big move to the front started with five to go, when he used the inside line to pass Gordon for third in Turn 3. As the leaders headed down the frontstretch, Keselowski got loose and was able to save it but had to give up second to Logano.

Then in Turn 1, Logano hunted down Kenseth on the inside and was able to complete the pass off of Turn 2. From there, it was all academic.

“I’m more surprised than anyone else – this is probably one of my worst racetracks,” Logano said to Fox Sports. “But I guess not today.

“What a crazy finish. I had a really bad restart and I was like, ‘Man, I really screwed up, I’m not going to win.’ And then, once they started battling ahead of me – and [Kenseth] did a real good job of blocking [Keselowski] at the top – we were able to capitalize basically. When they were blocking the top, I was able to get some air on the bottom and then get past.”

Gordon, the Sprint Cup points leader, ultimately finished second at a distant 9.9 seconds behind Logano. Kyle Busch made a late run to finish third ahead of fourth-place Keselowski, and Kenseth was kicked back to fifth at the finish.

Keselowski eventually explained why he took umbrage at Kenseth, who played strong defense for the lead against both Keselowski and Gordon before Logano ultimately got them all.

“I had a shot at winning the race and he ran me off the track, but you race to win and he was definitely racing to win,” Keselowski said. “But you hope that when somebody races to win, they’ll at least win the race if they’re gonna wreck you or run you off the race track.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished seventh, had a front-row seat to the issues on the cool-down lap and tried to figure it all out – at least, for a moment.

“[Kenseth] is mad at [Keselowski] and so, he slammed on the brakes after the checkered. [A.J. Allmendinger] ran into [Kenseth], I ran into [Kenseth],” he said. “That was – I don’t know what that was all about. Get over it [laughs].”

Sound advice from Earnhardt, considering that the monstrous Talladega Superspeedway looms next weekend. That’s definitely not the best place to take revenge on the Sprint Cup circuit.

Unofficial Results
1. Joey Logano, led 46 laps
2. Jeff Gordon, led 173 laps
3. Kyle Busch
4. Brad Keselowski, led 114 laps
5. Matt Kenseth, led 35 laps
6. A.J. Allmendinger
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr., led seven laps
8. Ryan Newman
9. Carl Edwards
10. Martin Truex Jr.
11. Kevin Harvick, led 23 laps
12. Brian Vickers
13. Jamie McMurray
14. Kasey Kahne
15. Greg Biffle
16. Kyle Larson
17. Aric Almirola
18. Marcos Ambrose
19. Casey Mears
20. David Gilliland
21. Justin Allgaier
22. Denny Hamlin
23. Kurt Busch
24. Paul Menard
25. Tony Stewart
26. Landon Cassill, led one lap
27. Austin Dillon
28. Alex Bowman
29. David Reutimann
30. David Ragan
31. Ryan Truex
32. Jimmie Johnson
33. Michael Annett
34. Danica Patrick
35. David Stremme
36. Travis Kvapil, led one lap
37. Joe Nemechek
38. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
39. Josh Wise

40. J.J. Yeley, Lap 380, Engine
41. Cole Whitt, Lap 367, Running
42. Reed Sorenson, Lap 225, Electrical
43. Clint Bowyer, Lap 159, Suspension

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.