How Joey Logano stretched his fuel to win at Nashville

Joey Logano won his first regular race of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season

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A single tank of fuel for the NASCAR Cup Series at Nashville Superspeedway typically lasts about 80 laps, but Joey Logano was able to make his run for 110. Logano probably did not expect to be in contention for the win when his Team Penske colleague Austin Cindric spun with four laps remaining.

The caution, which set up overtime, threw a wrench into the battle for the lead between Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin, as well as many of those in the top ten as they were running low on fuel. While some elected to pit, others decided to stay out as they figured they could make it last one overtime.

To their dismay, the crashes started to stack up. By the end, a Cup Series record five overtimes took place, and virtually everybody at the top of the running order at the start of overtime was either out of the race due to wrecks or further down the leaderboard after running out. Chastain was taken out in a crash moments after the first overtime, while Hamlin ran out two restarts later.

While the dust had yet to settle, in Nashville, Logano found himself on the front row for the fourth overtime alongside Chase Briscoe. Logano tried to pull ahead despite a charging Tyler Reddick, who was on newer tyres, before Josh Berry crashed again to force a fifth restart.

“I felt good when we came off of (Turn) 4 and was able to clear Briscoe,” Logano explained. “I thought, ‘Okay, I was in good shape.’

“Going to take the white off of 4 and then they threw the caution. Then we had to do it again. Had to not only do the fuel mileage piece of it, but also you had Reddick with tyres there at the end, and he was able to make some pretty big moves, and going down the backstretch it started stumbling.

“I was like, ‘Oh no.’ Was able to throw a nice block on him, but even off of 4, it stumbled and stumbled, and then it kind of got like a quick little bit of gas, and it gave me a little squirt and then started stumbling again across the line and just couldn’t get to the line quick enough.

“If that start/finish line was into (Turn) 1, we don’t win the race. We finish third or fourth.”

Even with his car running on fumes, Logano managed to keep Briscoe at bay to take the white flag and capitalised on his battle with Zane Smith to hang on for his first points win of 2024. He had won the exhibition All-Star Race in May.

Logano’s tank finally ran empty as he attempted to do a celebratory burnout. While some fans quickly surmised his team took a page out of Smokey Yunick‘s playbook and carried a larger fuel cell, the car was cleared in post-race inspection.

“(Joey) said he ran out coming off of (Turn) 4 there coming to the checkered. Obviously, that was probably a lap and a half longer than what we had predicted,” crew chief Paul Wolfe said.

“We just got to a point where I was like, ‘Well, we’ve got guys around us that were racing for the win to get into the playoffs. At this point we’ve come this far, let’s just stick with it, even though everything, our tools and my guys figuring the mileage manually, showed that we were probably going to ran out somewhere on that last lap.’

“I felt it was worth the gamble at that point and stuck with it, and fortunately it was enough. He did run out on the last lap, though.”

Drivers flabbergasted by overtimes

The five overtimes were the most in a Cup Series race, smashing the previous highest of three last set at Circuit of the Americas in 2023, and tied the 2018 Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona for the most in any NASCAR division.

Fuel conservation already shakes up a race plenty (Logano’s team-mates Cindric and Ryan Blaney were respectively fortunate and unfortunate enough to prove this at Gateway earlier in the season), but when crashes are factored in like at Nashville, many were left extremely annoyed as well.

Overtime is far from the most controversial aspect of NASCAR that other motorsport have not adopted, but the rule has changed various times throughout its existence due to driver and fan dissatisfaction. Since 2017, NASCAR has allowed unlimited overtime attempts to take place until the white flag waves, breaking from the traditional three.

“It’s always hard to say what NASCAR is thinking,” Wolfe continued. “Sometimes they throw a red flag, sometimes they don’t. I don’t know all their thought behind the decisions that were made.”

While his opinion might be different had he run out and not won, Logano is fine with accepting it as is. “That’s the rule, you keep doing it,” he concluded.

Justin Nguyen
Justin Nguyen
Justin Nguyen is Total-Motorsport.com's resident NASCAR aficionado and is also the off-road reporter for The Checkered Flag.
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