Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Ford Mustang for Team Penske, pulled away from the field on the final restart to win the Inaugural Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway. He talked about his success on new venues with his three wins at inaugural events and said, “I think it is a combination of things. I think our team did a great job and they did it quickly. This weekend was kind of different because of the fact that all of us (referring to the three Team Penske drivers) were really good.
“All of us had really good speed in the car. You have to be so fast when adapting to these new race tracks as far as how you race, call the race, and doing restarts. You have to be open minded to win at these new venues.”But his second points-paying win of the 2022 regular season didn’t come without controversy throughout the day. It all started on lap 28, when the pole sitter and leader at the time Chase Briscoe, wrecked in turns one and two after a left rear tire failure. Austin Cindric would lead after his tire blowout, and would go on to win stage one and collect his 10 points and one playoff point.
Then the controversy that took place during the middle of the race was when Ross Chastain took out Denny Hamlin on lap 66 in turn one. Hamlin then tried to retaliate several times during the course of the race, most notably when he ran Chastain all the way down to the field grass on the back straightaway of the racetrack. That wouldn’t be the last of Chastain though, as he would start another incident that would involve the No. 9 of Chastain and then No. 23 of Bubba Wallace, who drives for Denny Hamlin's team 23XI Racing, on lap 103.
Several drivers led in the first running of the Enjoy Illinois 300. Michael McDowell, Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., and many others were out front during the 240 laps in the event, but it was clear that it was either going to Kyle Busch or Joey Logano. On the final restart from a caution on lap 237 due to a hard hit by Kevin Harvick from a loose wheel, Kyle picked the outside lane to restart in, which would eventually hurt him in the long run. Although he did have the lead on the back stretch with two laps to go, Logano passed him to take the white flag, and eventually win in Madison, Ill.
Kyle Busch on why he chose the outside on the final restart. “My car was better on the outside, but it did take a couple of laps to get set in. I thought Joey (Logano) taking the bottom would help him to put him with my teammate and my brother (Kurt Busch) would start behind me, but I couldn’t do hand signals because Joey was half a car beside me looking at my hand to see when I would go. He just timed a good restart on me and Kurt wasn’t there to help so we didn’t have anything for him getting into turn one.”
Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Logano and the No. 22 crew, hasn’t visited World Wide Technology Raceway since October of 2010, where he and former Penske driver Brad Keselowski scored the last race at Gateway for the Xfinity Series. When asked on what it's like to win in his return visit to the track, he said, “It’s special to win anytime in the Cup Series these days. This level of racing is so hard and to be able to do it in the Cup level, which is a whole other league, it's special. It’s neat for me at least since the last time I was here was 12 years ago and coming out here to win is great. I forgot a lot of things about this track. The track did a great job of preparing for us to race here and I’m sure Joey had a lot of fun racing today and winning the event.”
All in all with a sell out crowd of over 57,000 people in the stands and thousand’s of more in the infield/walkways, it is safe to say that the greater St Louis area loves their NASCAR racing. The energy throughout the entire weekend was electric, and they look forward to hosting more Cup Series action in the upcoming years.
The time of the race was three hours, seven minutes, and 34 seconds, and had an average speed of 97.965 mph with 10 caution flags for 53 of the 245 laps ran Sunday afternoon (overtime finish with the total miles being 306.25). The race had 12 lead changes throughout nine different drivers with 36 in total starting the race, and the margin of victory between Logano and Kyle Busch was 0.655 seconds.
Next week the Xfinity Series has Saturday and Sunday off, but the Cup and Truck Series will take place at the famous Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Cal. The NASCAR CampingWorld Truck Series will race the DoorDash 250, starting at 7:30 p.m. Eastern with coverage by FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Then the Cup Series races the Toyota Save Mart 350 on Sunday starting at 3:30 p.m. Eastern with coverage on FS1, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.