Logano wins at Kansas to clinch spot in Cup Series finale
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Joey Logano used every bit of the track to hold off Kevin Harvick over a long, finishing green-flag run to win the NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday and earn a spot in the championship round at Phoenix.
The 2018 series champion had hung around the front of the pack all afternoon, but he had only led one other time on a cold, blustery day before taking the lead from Harvick with 44 laps to go.
Harvick, the winningest driver so far this season, kept pulling up to Logano’s bumper coming out of corners but simply couldn’t make a pass stick. Logano deftly used a parade of lapped traffic to score the win and head to Phoenix, where he already has won this season, with a chance to win a second Cup Series tile.
It was the first win for Logano since before the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the track to reduce the crowd to about 10,000 fans. But it came at the best of times, giving Team Penske a couple of weeks to prepare for another title run rather than stress about races at Texas and Martinsville.
Alex Bowman finished third, Brad Keselowski was fourth and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five.
Chase Elliott, who won the opening stage, wound up sixth after dealing with radio problems that at one point caused him to mistakenly pit. Elliott tried using a backup radio and at one point resorted to hand signs with his team on pit road to convey what he wanted done with the car.
Ryan Blaney, William Byron, playoff driver Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell rounded out the top 10.
Elliott picked up his ninth stage win of the season by getting around Harvick midway through the opening stage, but the radio trouble that had conspired against him really bit him during the second stage.
Most leaders already had pitted when Matt Kenseth hit the front-stretch wall to bring out a caution. The remaining cars headed down pit road with 12 laps left in the stage, but Elliott crew chief Alan Gustafson wanted his driver to stay on the track. The message not got through, and Elliott took a left turn onto pit road and lost a handful of spots.
Hamlin and Harvick, who had combined for 16 wins this season, wound up dueling for the stage win. Hamlin managed to hold off the 2014 series champion to win his 10th stage of the season.
Truex and Kurt Busch spent the day trying to overcome mistakes.
Truex’s team failed inspection twice before finally making it through, but that sent his No. 19 Toyota to the back of the field for the start. He quickly worked his way into the top 10, where he spent much of the rest of the afternoon.
Kurt Busch had to serve a penalty for speeding on pit road that hurt him in the opening stage. Then midway through the final stage, Kurt Busch began to communicate with his team about a problem in his car. His engine finally gave out with a cloud of smoke heading into Turn 1 with 68 laps to go that left him in a win-or-else situation at Texas and Martinsville.
“Usually there’s no warning. Everything is so buttoned-up these days in the engine department. And wow, I haven’t had an engine problem in years,” said Kurt Busch, whose Chip Ganassi Racing team gets its engines from Hendrick Motorsports.
“No fault of anyone at Hendrick. We were just running hard,” he said. “We were right in the mix. We were doing the deal. It’s a shame for everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. Having an engine failure in the playoffs, it’s like a huge parachute that slows you up. We’ll pack that parachute up and go tot Texas.”
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