Joey Logano and his crew chef, Greg Zippadelli, took a gamble near the end of Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and it paid off handsomely for the native New Englander, as he got his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup series win.
Logano was nearing the end of a pit cycle and had limited fuel remaining, but Zippadelli saw the dark clouds hovering over turn three and thought it might be a good idea to hang out, conserve fuel by running slower, and wait for Mother Nature to take over.
Ryan Newman was attempting the same strategy but had to pit as he was running out of fuel while leading. When Newman pitted, Logano took over first place.
He was on the same pit sequence as Newman, but conserved better and was rewarded with his first win, a win that makes him the youngest driver ever to win a Sprint Cup race.
The dominant cars of the day were Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart, who were all on the same pit sequence.
Gordon would have been the leader had Logano pitted before the rain with about 28 laps remaining in what was shaping up to be a great battle between Gordon and Busch down the stretch, with a hard-charging Stewart in tow.
This is the second consecutive year that the first New Hampshire race ended early due to rain, giving a car that was maybe 20th best the win.
Last year Kurt Busch stayed out after all the leaders pitted to get the win in a car that was clearly inferior to the rest of the upper echelon just like Logano this year.
However, a win is a win, and they all look the same in the record book.
Logano’s win also marked the ninth straight New Hampshire race, including the fall dates, that a different driver has won.