Joey Logano may have been saving his best for last. After going winless since before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sport, Logano punched his ticket into the final round of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with a win at Kansas Speedway Sunday.
The race winning move came on a final round of pit stops with 40 laps to go after Logano beat Kevin Harvick off pit road. Logano then held off Harvick on a final long green flag run to win by .312 of a second.
“You gotta want it man,” Logano said. “What an amazing team this Shell Pennzoil team is. I am worn out. I spent more time in the mirror than I did in the windshield there. Pit stops got us positions and got us the lead.”
Harvick, who was the class of the field all day leading a race high 85 laps and leads the series with 9 wins this season had to settle for second.
“We just needed to get off of pit road first,” Harvick said. “It came down to controlling that restart and we lost the lead there on the restart and wound up trying to battle.”
“I was a little bit tighter low. I needed the lap cars to time out well. Joey is a good blocker.”
Alex Bowman took third place with Brad Keselowski fourth and Kyle Busch rounding out the top five. Six of the eight playoff drivers finished in the top 10: Chase Elliott finished sixth after starting on pole, winning Stage 1 and leading 48 laps with Martin Truex Jr., who started at the back of the field after his Toyota failed pre-race inspection three times finished ninth behind Ryan Blaney and William Byron. Christopher Bell was tenth.
Harvick seemed to have the faster car all day long, but in the end Logano was able to block Harvick anticipating his moves and using lapped cars to his advantage. It was the 26th win of his career.
“The 4 was fast, real fast, especially down the straightaways,” Logano said. “I thought if I could hold him off the first 15 laps that I would have a chance. Dirty air was the best for us. As we caught lap traffic, I was able to gap ourselves as he got more dirty air and I was able to draft somebody because I was a little slow down the straightaway.”
Two Playoff drivers had issues. One of the title favorites, Denny Hamlin led the second most laps on the day, 57, won Stage 2 after a duel with Harvick and was looking for his third consecutive win at Kansas Speedway. On lap 179 however he came up in front of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch while running inside the top five and was forced into the wall. Hamlin pitted immediately but fell two laps down. He later took a wave around to get one of his laps back but continued to struggle finishing the day 29th one lap down.
Kurt Busch also ran strong much of the day. But slowed with a loss of power in his Chevy on lap 193. While trying to diagnose the problem on track, the engine blew, and he was out of the race by lap 199 finishing 38th.
Logano started the day 19 points below the cutoff but with the win, his first since Phoenix in March, now locks himself into the Championship 4.
“This is a tough three weeks,” Logano said. “Especially with the 4 (Harvick) and the 11 (Hamlin) having so many points coming into this. We were already behind the cut line. It was going to be tough without scoring a lot of stage points to do it without winning. Obviously, we were able to do that today. We won Phoenix earlier this year and have a lot of confidence in our short track program. Now it gives us two weeks to kind of take a deep breath and really focus on that car and what we need to do to win that championship.”
Elliott, Bowman, Truex and Kurt Busch are outside the cutoff as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for 500 laps next Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Hollywood Casino 400
Kansas City, Kansas
Sunday, October 18, 2020
1. (2) Joey Logano (P), Ford, 267.
2. (4) Kevin Harvick (P), Ford, 267.
3. (6) Alex Bowman (P), Chevrolet, 267.
4. (8) Brad Keselowski (P), Ford, 267.
5. (20) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 267.
6. (1) Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 267.
7. (9) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 267.
8. (10) William Byron, Chevrolet, 267.
9. (5) Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 267.
10. (22) Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 267.
11. (17) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 267.
12. (18) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 267.
13. (16) Aric Almirola, Ford, 267.
14. (13) Cole Custer #, Ford, 267.
15. (7) Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, 267.
16. (23) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 267.
17. (32) John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, 267.
18. (24) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 267.
19. (26) Michael McDowell, Ford, 267.
20. (11) Erik Jones, Toyota, 267.
21. (21) Chris Buescher, Ford, 267.
22. (28) Ryan Newman, Ford, 267.
23. (29) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 267.
24. (25) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 266.
25. (15) Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, 266.
26. (12) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 266.
27. (27) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 265.
28. (35) Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 263.
29. (19) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 262.
30. (34) JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 261.
31. (14) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 261.
32. (33) James Davison, Ford, 258.
33. (31) Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, 258.
34. (37) Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 256.
35. (39) Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 254.
36. (36) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 250.
37. (38) Joey Gase(i), Ford, 228.
38. (3) Kurt Busch (P), Chevrolet, Engine, 197.
39. (40) Chad Finchum(i), Toyota, Transmission, 154.
40. (30) Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, Accident, 144.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 138.329 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 53 Mins, 43 Secs. Margin of Victory: .312 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 6 for 31 laps.
Lead Changes: 17 among 11 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Elliott (P) 1-27;W. Byron 28-30;K. Harvick (P) 31-63;C. Elliott (P) 64-83;D. Hamlin (P) 84-86;C. Elliott (P) 87;D. Hamlin (P) 88-124;B. Keselowski (P) 125-130;K. Busch (P) 131-132;M. DiBenedetto 133-144;R. Newman 145;D. Hamlin (P) 146-163;K. Busch 164-167;J. Logano (P) 168-169;K. Harvick (P) 170-201;C. LaJoie 202;K. Harvick (P) 203-222;J. Logano (P) 223-267.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kevin Harvick (P) 3 times for 85 laps; Denny Hamlin (P) 3 times for 58 laps; Chase Elliott (P) 3 times for 48 laps; Joey Logano (P) 2 times for 47 laps; Matt DiBenedetto 1 time for 12 laps; Brad Keselowski (P) 1 time for 6 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 4 laps; William Byron 1 time for 3 laps; Kurt Busch (P) 1 time for 2 laps; Corey LaJoie 1 time for 1 lap; Ryan Newman 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 9,2,11,12,20,88,4,19,22,18
Stage #2 Top Ten: 11,4,12,88,9,2,21,19,1,14
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