Joey Logano salvages day for Team Penske, finishes fifth

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While Brad Keselowski’s late mechanical failure and crash ruined his Eliminator Round opener at Martinsville Speedway, Team Penske is still in early position to advance to the Sprint Cup Championship Race thanks to a fifth-place run from Keselowski’s teammate, Joey Logano.

As Logano explained in post-race, his No. 22 Ford was a handful throughout the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500. But an excellent final restart following a four-tire stop under caution helped him secure an important result.

That, plus Dale Earnhardt Jr. keeping Logano’s Chase rival, Jeff Gordon, from winning today, made Logano feel relatively fine about how things played out.

It’s good the 88 [Earnhardt] won and not the 24 [Gordon],” he said. “We just weren’t fast enough with our Shell/Pennzoil Ford. We didn’t have the lateral, forward drive that I needed off the corner and every time we tried to fix that, the center didn’t turn. We just couldn’t get the handle on it all day.”

“We took four there [under the final caution] and restarted 13th but got to fifth. I was just a little bit too tight there that last run to get a couple more spots. Overall, it was another Top-5, which is great.  We’ve been Top-Fiving the heck out of this Chase, which is what we need to do.

“I just really want to win these things so you take a little bit of pressure off, but it was still a good points day.”

Logano is now third on the Chase Grid at three points over the fifth-place Championship cutoff going into next Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, where he won over Gordon in green-white-checkered this past spring.

When asked if it was a tough decision for him and crew chief Todd Gordon to pit with less than 10 laps remaining, Logano noted what happened to Tony Stewart and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

They, along with David Ragan, opted to stay out under that last caution for the top three track positions. But the trio couldn’t hold back those with fresh rubber when the race restarted with five laps left.

“The 14 [Stewart] stayed out on old tires and finished fourth,” Logano said. “The second-place car that stayed out was the 17 [Stenhouse] and he ended up way back there (15th place), so I think we did the right thing there.”

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”