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Middletown native Joey Logano holds off Brad Keselowski for Vegas NASCAR win

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 03: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Pennzoil Ford, leads Daniel Hemric, driver of the #8 Caterpillar Chevrolet, and William Byron, driver of the #24 Hertz Chevrolet, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil Oil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 3, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS — Joey Logano held off teammate Brad Keselowski on Sunday to win the NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Logano drove his Team Penske Ford to his 22nd career victory and his first of the season, narrowly answering Keselowski’s last-lap passing attempt down the stretch. Logano had never won a Cup race in Vegas in 11 tries during his first 10 full-time seasons, although he won an Xfinity Series race at the track in 2017.

The first race under NASCAR’s full new rules package produced a caution-free event that still had some exciting action up front, including a couple of wild restarts after the two segment breaks.

“What a great race,” Logano said. “Brad and I were so evenly matched, and you just can’t pull away (under the new rules). My heart is still running.”

Keselowski drove up from 19th to take the lead with 27 laps left, but his hopes for back-to-back victories were dashed when Logano passed him while getting held up by lapped traffic.

“I’d like to have one more lap,” Keselowski said. “It was a good battle, and we were both fighting really hard at the top. It seemed like it came down to what the lapped cars were going to do.”

Kyle Busch finished third, unable to recover from a mid-race speeding penalty in the hometown driver’s quest for the third three-race weekend sweep in NASCAR history.

“If we didn’t have the speeding penalty on pit road, we would have won this race,” Busch said. “The driver threw it away.”

Busch won the Trucks race Friday and the Xfinity event Saturday, giving him 197 victories in all three series. He has won only one Cup race in Vegas, and he lamented his mistake after speeding down pit road.

Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick was fourth, and Kurt Busch finished fifth for the Las Vegas native’s first top-five finish at his home track since 2005. Fords took five of the top seven spots.

NASCAR debuted the entirety of its new rules package designed to foster tighter racing and more passing. Drivers expected to be in big packs of racers with plenty of lead changes due to the reduced speeds and increased downforce — but the changes didn’t lead to any big wrecks.

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