Avondale, Arizona (AP) – Joey Lugano won his second NASCAR Championship to give Roger Pinsky two titles in the same season with a win in the Phoenix GP final on Sunday.
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 NASCAR’s new 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 Penske Team Cup cause in September, and Logano’s dominant run on Sunday marked the first time Penske won both the NASCAR and IndyCar championships in the same season.
“I knew going into this thing we were going to win the championship. I told the guys we were the favorites from Daytona, and we really believed it, and that’s the difference,” Lugano said. To be sure. I was never really ready for a championship race, and yes, we did, man. I do not believe that “.
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 had a lot of conversations over the past two weeks before bedtime. First it was ‘Daddy’s going to have a pole, he’s going to meet me here and we’ll win the race’, and I can’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.
32-year-old Lugano was the oldest driver in the fourth championship, as well as the only driver who is married with children. The Next Generation leveled the competition this season and the Cup Series celebrated 19 different winners, including five first-time players and two drivers who made their championship race debuts.
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.
“Two championships in the same year, that’s what we’re here for,” Pinsky said. “That’s the goal we achieve every year.”
Lugano won the pole and faced no challenge on Sunday, driving 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.
It’s the second trophy for crew chief Paul Wolf, who won with Kiselovsky in 2012.
Ross Chastain finished third on his championship racing debut, and Christopher Bell was 10th on his debut. bell He raced hours after Joe Gibbs Racing learned that Vice Chairman Coy Gibbs, the 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 definitely 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, ended our day and ended our chance of winning or the championship. 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 a position,” Chastain said. “I got to (Elliott’s) left and saw an erratic movement he made to turn left to cover it, but I was already there. It’s not the way 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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