Stage One: 5th
Stage Two: 10th
Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team capped off the 2023 Cup Series regular season with their eighth top-five finish of the season Saturday night in the Coke Zero Sugar 400. After starting the 400-mile event 14th, Logano settled into the outside lane and battled a bit of a loose-handling condition on the opening run of the night before making his way into the top-10 in the closing laps of Stage 1. As the top lane continued to build momentum, Logano continued to charge to the front and posted a fifth-place finish in the opening 35-lap segment. The No. 22 team won the race off pit road following a four-tire stop during the stage break as Logano lined up on the inside of row one to take the green flag for Stage 2. The formation of a third lane in the opening laps of Stage 2 forced Logano to run the top lane with a line of Fords pushing behind him with fuel-only pit stops looming as a long, green flag run ensued. Logano was called to pit road on lap 82 to take enough fuel to make it to the end of the stage and once the field cycled back into a large pack, he dropped out of the main draft with two laps remaining in the stage. The move paid off as a multi-car incident in turn four unraveled in front of Logano on the final lap of the stage, allowing him to pick up a 10th-place finish. Following a lengthy red flag for track cleanup, Logano made his way to pit road for his final four tire stop of the night during the stage break and lined up to restart 12th for the final run of the night. Logano battled his way back into the top-five 50 laps to go before the field began to run single file once the inside line deteriorated, relegating him to 13th in the running order. Following one final stop for fuel under green on lap 147, Logano settled into ninth on the leaderboard and pushed the inside line to the front of the field with ten laps to go. The caution flag flew with five laps remaining to set up a green-white-checkered finish as Logano chose the outside of row four with three Fords ahead of him. On the ensuing restart, Logano remained loyal to the outside line and pushed forward to cross the line fifth in the regular season finale.
Logano enters the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs 11th in the points standings to begin the Round of 16, one point above the cutline.
“Solid run tonight for our Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang to cap off the regular season here. We had good speed and drove up through the field several times tonight, so to come away fifth with a clean car is a good night. [Chris Buescher] and [Brad Keselowski] were just so good at staying hooked up at the end there and we just couldn’t quite get to them in those last two laps. We’re ready to go for these next ten weeks.”
WHAT’S NEXT: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Darlington Raceway to kick off the Round of 16 on Sunday, September 3rd. Coverage for the Cook Out Southern 500 begins at 6 p.m. E.T. on USA, MRN Radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.