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Logano passes Martin late to win Pocono 400

Joey Logano celebrates in victory lane after winning

Joey Logano celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 auto race at Pocono Raceway. (June 10, 2012) Credit: AP

LONG POND, Pa. -- Joey Logano slipped under Mark Martin in the closing laps Sunday at Pocono Raceway for his first victory since 2009 to become the first Sprint Cup driver this season to win from the pole.

The 22-year-old Logano rallied past the 53-year-old Martin for a thrilling finish in the first 400-mile Cup race at Pocono. Pocono shortened the race by 100 miles this season.

Logano's only previous career Cup victory was a rain-shortened win at New Hampshire. Logano had the top car all weekend, posting the fastest practice time Friday and then taking the pole Saturday. Tony Stewart was third, Jimmie Johnson fourth and Denny Hamlin fifth.

Logano, once a much-hyped phenom when he broke in with Joe Gibbs Racing, was under pressure to produce victories in the final year of his four-year contract. His win continues a recent uptick of solid results in the Cup series. He has insisted this season his contract status has not added pressure. But in Victory Lane, he hoped the win sent a message to his critics. "I hope it shuts them all up," he said.

At a track known for its tedious 500-mile race, 400 miles was the perfect length to produce a fantastic finish on fresh asphalt on the 21/2-mile track.

Martin took the lead with eight laps left. Logano, though, bumped Martin out of the way and zipped past for the winning move with three laps left.

"I'd call that a bump-and-run," Martin said. "It has been acceptable in this racing for a long time. It's not how I would have done it. Certainly, had I had a fast enough car, he would have gotten a return."

Logano finished a season-high eighth in the Cup race at Dover last week and now has three top-10s in his last four starts. It could be a sign that things are finally falling into place in his first season with crew chief Jason Ratcliff.

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