Lugano wins in Phoenix, takes second NASCAR title

Avondale, Arizona – Penske Perfect.

From his first NASCAR race with the new next-generation car, the Daytona 500, the IndyCar Championship and now the NASCAR Cup title, it was as close to a perfect season as possible for Roger Pinske.

Joey Logano won his second NASCAR Championship on Sunday with a winner-takes-all final victory at Phoenix Raceway — a win that gave Penske the Cup title and the IndyCar title in the same season for the first time in 31 attempts.

“It’s about time,” Pinsky said. “Joey has done a great job, and for us to have two championships in the same year, that’s what we are here for. That’s the goal we achieve every year. I think we were close, but we got it this year.”

It was the fourth win of the season for Lugano, who opened the year with a victory in January at an exhibition race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in the debut of the next-generation car. Less than a month later, fellow rookie Austin Sendrick won the Daytona 500 on Penske’s 85th birthday.

Will Power added the IndyCar Championship to the Team Penske Cup affair in September and closed Sunday’s dominant Logano race year for the organization’s banner.

“I knew I was going to win the championship,” Lugano said. “I told the guys we were the favorites from Daytona, and we really believed it, and that’s the difference.” “I had a good team with a bundle of confidence, and we had every reason in the world to be confident. I was never really ready for a championship race, and yes, we did, man. I could.” I can’t believe it.”

Lugano was met after the win by his wife and 4-year-old son, Hudson, the oldest of his three children and only one who made the trip to Phoenix. He took Lugano by the hand and ran to the banks to collect the checkered flag.

His son jumped backwards on the track, waving the flag and holding the hand of his hero father. Lugano had promised Hudson that he would win the championship.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations over the past two weeks before bedtime. The first of them was ‘Dad would get a whistle, he’d meet me here and we’d win the race,’ and I couldn’t be a liar to my son,” Lugano said.

Lugano then drove Hudson in the #22 Ford to the championship stage.

“I’ve always wanted to do that with Hudson,” Lugano said. “He’s a little car guy.”

Lugano, 32, was the oldest driver in the fourth championship, the only one who was married with children. The Next Generation has leveled off the competition this season, and the Cup Series celebrated 19 different winners, including five first-time players and two drivers who debuted in the championship race.

Even with parity, Lugano never doubted that this would be his season.

“Getting the ends of the race, the first and last race, means a lot,” Lugano said. “It’s just been a really special year for us with our third child, 22 in the year 22, I told you!”

It’s the third Cup title for Penske, who along with Brad Keselowski won in 2012 and Lugano’s first title in 2018. Lugano joined Kyle Busch as the only active driver to hold multiple Cup titles.

Lugano won the pole and faced no real challenge on Sunday as he drove his Ford 186 out of 312 laps, not the top contender for the title on just one lap. He is the first Ford driver to win two Cup titles since David Pearson in 1968 and 1969.

This is the second Cup for crew chief Paul Wolff, who won with Kiselovsky in 2012 and admitted to texting Ford rival chief of crew Rodney Childers for strategic advice during the race.

“I was texting him the whole race,” Wolff said, “What are you guys thinking? What will you do? “I have ideas, but all the other crew chiefs might be thinking something different. It’s good to have another perspective. There are men in the garage you can trust and there are men you can’t. I think Rodney and I have a great relationship, and I appreciate that.”

Ross Chastain finished third on his championship racing debut, and Christopher Bell was 10th on his debut. Bell raced hours after Joe Gibbs Racing learned that Vice Chairman Coy Gibbs, son of the Hall of Fame owner, had died in his sleep at the age of 49.

“You wake up this morning racing for a championship, you’re happy, you’re cheerful, and then your world falls apart,” Bell said. “Whenever I get news like that, it certainly bears in mind that there is a lot of this outside of racing.”

Woven by Chastain early in the final, Chase Elliott smashed his Chevrolet into a wall and was immediately out of competition. Hendrick Motorsports snapped a back-to-back streak of two consecutive Cup titles.

“Just disappointed, obviously ending our day and ending our chance of winning or the championship. Just disappointed,” Elliott said.

NASCAR’s most famous driver won five races this year and the regular season championship, but Elliott lost his shot in a second championship when he cut off Chastain’s front and Chastain refused to lift. The call sent Elliot spinning the wall, dropping to 30th and landing a lap during repairs, finishing 28th.

“I feel like it was just a tough race and I had the status,” Chastain said. I got to the left [Elliott] And I saw an erratic movement he made to turn left to cover it, but I was already there. It’s not how I want to race them or these guys.”

Lugano, who started his career with JGR and spent five seasons there before being fired after the 2012 season, paid his respects to the Gibbs family after the win.

“I don’t know what to think,” Lugano said, “but obviously my condolences to the Gibbs family.” “But just a great day for us, and kind of mixed feelings at the moment.”

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