It was a study in domination and impeccable strategy.

Leading a NASCAR All-Star Race record 199 of 200 laps, pole winner Joey Logano kept Denny Hamlin and peripatetic Kyle Larson at bay on Sunday night in winning the 40th running of the event and collecting the $1-million top prize.

Running the entire race on softer option tires—and eschewing the more durable prime tires at repaved and revitalized North Wilkesboro Speedway—Logano beat runner-up Hamlin to the finish line by 0.636 seconds, with Chris Buescher passing Larson for third place on the next-to-last lap.

The All-Star Race victory was the second for Logano and the fifth for Team Penske, which also won with Kurt Busch (2010), Ryan Newman (2002) and Ryan Blaney (2022).

“A lot of fun when you‘ve got a car this fast,” said Logano, who is winless in 13 NASCAR Cup Series points events this season. “The Shell/Pennzoil Mustang, it‘s just so great to get in Victory Lane.

“All of our sponsors and everyone who stuck with us to get a win, it feels nice. It‘s been a while. I wish it was for points, but a million bucks is still a lot of money, and I feel great about that.”

Though Logano spent the race at the front of the field, Larson drew his share of attention, too, as he shuttled between 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the historic 0.625-mile short track.

After qualifying fifth for next Sunday‘s Indianapolis 500—the first leg of a planned double with the Coca-Cola 600 next Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway—Larson left Indy on a helicopter at 5:44 p.m.

After transferring to a private jet registered to HMS Holdings and arriving at Wilkes County Airport, Larson took a helicopter to nearby North Wilkesboro Speedway and landed on the track property at 7:15 p.m.—to loud applause from fans in the grandstands.

Larson started from the rear of the field because of a driver change, given that Kevin Harvick had qualified the No. 5 Chevrolet while Larson was at Indy.

During a planned caution at Lap 151, Larson pitted for option tires that had spent only one green-flag lap on his car and charged through the field from 10th at the restart to challenge Hamlin for the runner-up spot before fading in the closing laps.

Larson ran out of steam, and Hamlin was frustrated by his inability to make a move on the race winner.

“I needed more of an advantage to pass, for sure,” Hamlin said. “I would run to him, and then you couldn‘t pass. I would lose a little bit of air there, and I would try to give my car a break and then run to him again—just have to be so much faster to get around.

“Hats off to the track, NASCAR and Goodyear for giving (two tire choices) a try. Hopefully, we learned something here for future short tracks.”

The fireworks started early on Sunday. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. went up the middle to create a three-wide scenario mid-pack and angered Kyle Busch on the outside when the cars collided. Busch retaliated on Lap 2 and turned Stenhouse‘s Chevrolet into the outside wall, eliminating Stenhouse from the race.

Stenhouse drove his damaged car to pit road, parked it in Busch‘s stall and expressed his displeasure to Busch‘s crew chief, Randall Burnett. After the race, Stenhouse vented his pent-up rage in a brief fistfight with Busch, which also involved crews from the two teams.

“At least we had an exciting fight in the end—something to talk about,” said Hamlin, always the curmudgeon.

Under the caution for Stenhouse‘s wreck, five drivers—Logano, Tyler Reddick, Brad Keselowski, Buescher and Blaney—stayed on the track on the softer option tires, while the rest of the field came to pit road and switched to the prime tires.

Preserving track position proved to be the winning move for the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. When crew chief Paul Wolfe saw the car‘s performance on the option tires, he chose not to change to primes at the 100-lap halfway break.

“Well, we did the first 100, so why wouldn‘t it last the second 100?” agreed Logano. “That was our thought, so it was definitely an aggressive strategy, but it worked out good.”

Blaney came home fifth, followed by Bubba Wallace, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, Michael McDowell and Busch.

Toyota drivers Ty Gibbs and Wallace transferred into the main event by finishing first and second, respectively, in the 100-lap NASCAR All-Star Open.

For Gibbs, the victory was a cakewalk. Starting from the pole, the driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Camry led every lap and crossed the finish line 1.572 seconds ahead of Wallace, who had to hold off charging Josh Berry and Justin Haley to secure his spot in the show.

Berry was third in the Open, less than a half-second behind Wallace, with Haley trailing in fourth. Berry‘s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Noah Gragson, finished fifth but transferred into the All-Star Race by winning the Fan Vote.

“I can‘t say enough about the fans,” Gragson said after learning he had been voted into the race. “They‘re bad-ass. They keep us motivated each and every weekend to come out and do our jobs.

“When times aren‘t great, the fans always pump us up and we feed off their energy. I appreciate everybody‘s support and we‘ve got 200 laps to go chase a million bucks.”

The chase came up short. Gragson started at the back of the 20-car field and finished 11th.

— NASCAR Wire Service —

See race details at: Race Results and Penalty Report.

See more information on the All-Star race page.

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