It was a wild finish in the desert Sunday. It took two green-white-checkered attempts to decide it and in the end the fortunes for several drivers changed in just one lap. Joey Logano won his first Phoenix race, and the Championship 4 at Homestead was set. Here’s how it all went down Sunday at Homestead.
From his first career pole, and in a substitution role for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Alex Bowman led the field to the green. Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin made up the top five starters.
Bowman led entering turn 1, Logano and Larson dueled for second; entering turn 3, Larson got loose and spun the two touched but Logano was able to get by, and the first caution came out. Larson also had no damage and continued.
Kevin Harvick had charged from his sixth starting spot and took over second behind Bowman, followed by Hamlin, Logano and Elliott. Logano’s team reported a possible left rear tire rub.
Green came out on lap 6, Bowman retook the lead as Logano jumped up into second, Harvick was third. Hamlin and Elliott made up the top five. Logano’s Ford was trailing a bit of smoke, but still pressuring Bowman for the lead. Elliott had fourth by lap 10.
Martin Truex Jr., who had started in last place after cashing his primary car in practice Friday, then not getting the backup car through inspection in time to qualify, was 18th by lap 14. Elliott went to third around Harvick on lap 17.
Bowman had a 1.3 second lead by lap 20 and had caught the back of the field.
Hamlin took fourth from Harvick on lap 26; Austin Dillon took fifth a lap later. Jimmie Johnson who had started 17th was seventh and soon looking for sixth from Harvick. Matt Kenseth lurked close behind. Johnson finally got the sixth spot on lap 38.
In lapped traffic, Logano was closing in on Bowman by lap 47. Harvick was continuing to fall back.
Elliott and Logano were fighting for second by lap 53; he had the spot just after they had started lap 54, Harvick was tenth. The lead for Bowman was just over 2 seconds. Logano was third behind Elliott, Johnson was fourth, Hamlin fifth.
Truex took 10th from Harvick on lap 64. There were 22 cars on the lead lap.
Johnson took third from Logano on lap 70. Kyle Busch took 11th from Harvick on lap 72.
Bowman lapped Tony Stewart who was running 22nd on lap 78. Deeper in the field green flag stops were starting. Hamlin, Harvick and Kyle Bush pitted on lap 82. On the track, Larson spun trying to enter pit road after contact from Ryan Newman and the second caution of the day came out. Both were able to continue with no damage.
Bowman, Johnson and Logano were among those who had yet to pit. The pitted as soon as pit road opened. Bowman was out first followed by Logano, Johnson, Kenseth and Brad Keselowski. Truex was penalized for “pulling up to pit” and held for a lap. He had pitted but had passed the pace car hence “pulling up to pit”. He did not get service on his car, and he went back out. After it was over with the penalty, he was two laps down. 18 cars took the wave around.
Green came out on lap 91; Bowman had the lead by turn 1; Logano fell into second, Kenseth third, Greg Biffle was fourth, Johnson fifth. Kyle Busch restarted 15th, Harvick 19th. Truex was 35th two laps down.
Logano was looking for the lead by lap 93; he took the lead on the outside at the start of lap 94. Kenseth was soon looking for second from Bowman. By lap 100, Biffle had fallen outside the top five, Johnson was fourth, Keselowski fifth.
Johnson took third on lap 108. There were 19 cars on the lead lap.
Bowman was reeling in the leader by lap 117; Bowman was looking for the lead by lap 118 and the two were side by side; Johnson joined the fray and at the end of the lap Logano held the lead, Johnson was second, Bowman third; Johnson grabbed the lead on lap 120. Bowman took second a lap later.
The third caution came out on lap 131 for debris on the frontstretch. The leaders all pitted. Logano came out first followed by Bowman, Johnson, Kenseth and Keselowski.
Johnson was penalized for “pulling up to pit” as Truex was earlier, or passing the pace car while entering pit road. He was brought back in and held a lap. Kenseth and Keselowski up a spot, Elliott took over fifth. Johnson restarted 20th, one lap down.
Green came out on lap 140; Logano rocketed to the lead, Bowman held second. Keselowski, Kenseth, and Hamlin. Harvick had worked up to 10th by lap 146.
Bowman was looking for the lead on lap 156. He was able to grab the lead back on lap 157. Kenseth went to third on lap 164; the lead up front was just over 2 seconds. Kenseth took second on lap 171.
Keselowski was looking for third from teammate Logano by lap 184. Kasey Kahne was fifth on lap 185. The lead for Bowman was 3-seconds. Kahne had moved to third by lap 200.
Kyle Busch reported a vibration on lap 204.
The fourth caution of the day came out on lap 210 for debris between turns 1 and 2.
The leaders all pitted. Bowman came out first followed by Kahne, Kenseth, Logano and Hamlin.
Green came back out on lap 218: Bowman took the lead on the outside into turn 1 with a push from Logano; behind however Austin Dillon spun entering turn 1; Johnson got into the back of Greg Biffle and had heavy damage. Johnson headed straight to the garage as caution five was displayed.
The question was who would try to stretch out their fuel to the end, or who might pit for a splash. Dillon got his car re-fired, but stalled again at the exit of pit road while he was going backwards. He got it started again and made it to his pit stall backwards.
Most of the top runners stayed out; among those pitting, Kurt Busch, Keselowski and Carl Edwards. Busch and Keselowski had been running inside the top 10. Harvick stayed out in seventh and was told he would be 8 laps short on fuel.
Green came out on lap 229. Bowman took the lead, Logano fell into second, Kenseth third. IT was a three way battle behind with Kahne fourth. When the battle settled, Kyle Busch was fifth.
Kyle Busch took fourth on lap 239, Hamlin followed.
Kenseth was looking for second on lap 243. Harvick had fallen back to 9th. Johnson returned to the race 24 laps down, on lap 244. Kenseth took second on lap 245. The move put him into the Championship 4 by one point over teammate Hamlin who was running 6th. The lead up front for Bowman was 2.2 seconds. Kyle Busch was soon looking for third from Logano. They fought side by side with Logano able to defend. Soon Elliott was in range looking for the spot; he passed Kyle Busch for fourth on lap 251.
Elliott took third on lap 255. On the next lap,256, Truex and Ryan Newman got together, spun and crashed in turn one and caution six came out.
Leaders came in for stops, with the exception of Hamlin. Kenseth with only two tires and fuel was out first followed by Kahne, Kurt Busch, Bowman and Logano. Kyle Busch, Harvick, Elliott, and Jamie McMurray were close behind.
The restart came on lap 261. Hamlin took the lead by turn 1, but Kenseth was soon in front of him. Kurt Busch was looking for second a lap later with Logano in the mix. Hamlin defended and Kurt Busch fell into third behind.
Caution seven came out for debris on lap 265. There were 19 cars on the lead lap.
No one pitted and the top five were Chase drivers when the green came out on lap 269. Kenseth charged to the lead, Logano fell into second. Hamlin and Kurt Busch were side by side for third, with Busch taking the spot by the end of the lap. Kyle Busch had fifth on lap 271. Harvick, needing a win was sixth, but said his engine was running hot. Kyle Busch had fourth a lap later from Hamlin.
Bowman, Harvick and Hamlin were three wide on lap 275; Hamlin defended, Harvick feel back, but Bowman was soon looking for fifth. Bowman soon had fifth; Harvick followed and soon had sixth. Up front the lead for Kenseth was just over a second.
Kyle was looking for third from his brother with 31 laps to go, and soon had the spot. Bowman was fifth behind Kurt Busch.
Bowman took fourth on lap 285.
Needing to finish second to make the Championship 4, Kyle Busch was trying to reel in Logano with 25 laps to go.
Harvick went to fifth on lap 291.
Busch caught Logano, Bowman had caught Busch with 19 to go. Bowman and Busch were soon side by side. Bowman got the spot with 17 to go.
Bowman took second with 15 to go. The lead for Kenseth was nearly 4 seconds.
Kyle Busch took third with 12 laps to go. Harvick lurked close behind Logano; should Harvick get past Logano, Logano would be out of the Chase.
With 10 to go, Logano was looking for third from Busch but Harvick was closing. With 8 to go Busch, Logano and Harvick were nose to tail. Logano and Harvick were side by side with 7 to go.
Logano was still defending and still in the Chase with 5 laps to go. The lead for Kenseth was still over three seconds.
Kenseth had no threats with two to go, the battle was between Logano and Harvick.
But with 2 to go, Michael McDowell hit the wall exiting turn 2 after losing a tire and caution 8 flew and set up a green-white checkered flag finish.
Hamlin and Kurt Busch were among the few who pitted; both took two tires and fuel.
Kenseth took the green from the outside, Bowman on the inside. Logano and Kyle Busch were directly behind. Kenseth led into turn 1, but tried to came down to block Bowman who had spun his tires and was hit by Kyle Busch behind . Bowman tapped Kenseth sending Kenseth into the wall. Bowman slowed, Kyle Busch took the lead, but Logano was able to get by on the outside and had the lead when the caution came out. Kenseth had heave damage and his chance at the win, and the Championship 4, were over. Kyle Larson was third, Harvick fourth, Bowman fifth.
Logano led from the outside, Kyle Busch on the inside, Larson and Harvick behind on the second attempt. Logano took the lead, Busch held second. Larson and Harvick were side by side. Logano had the lead on the final lap, Kyle Busch second, Larson third; Harvick fourth.
That’s how it ended with Logano winning by .587 of a second and Kyle Busch second. Both were the final two to advance to the Championship 4. Harvick was fourth, and Kurt Busch fifth. Bowman was sixth, Hamlin seventh followed by Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, and Paul Menard. Others in the Chase: Edwards was 19th, Kenseth held on for 21st, and Johnson was 38th 28 laps down. The full results can be found here.
The final race of the season will be next Sunday with the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Live coverage will be on NBC with the green flag coming just after 2:30 p.m. ET.
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