With a dominating victory in Sunday’s rain-delayed Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Joey Logano punched an early-bird ticket to the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Now Logano can take a much more carefree trip to unpredictable Talladega in two weeks. The same can’t be said for three of the sports superstars. Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch. These three drivers all had major issues at Charlotte, and will have to rebound in the remaining two races of the Contender Round to keep their title hopes alive.
Logano led 227 of the 334 laps and crossed the finish line .703 seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick, who posted his 11th runner-up finish of the season to go with three victories.
The win was Logano’s fourth of the season, his first at Charlotte and the 12th of his career. Most important, however, was this victory gave Logano the “get out of jail free pass” into the Eliminator Round. Equally important was the $329,873.00 that the team won today!
“Logano’s the only one who’s going to sleep for the next two weeks,” said Martin Truex Jr., who finished third at Charlotte.
Logano echoed those same sentiments!
“This makes Talladega way easier,” Logano said. “I know that’s on everyone’s mind when this round starts, and last year we won Kansas when it was the first race of this round and now we were able to get it this time at Charlotte. We’ll get lots of sleep here the next couple of weeks.”
Logano grabbed his victory one week after Harvick notched a must win at Dover that allowed him to proceed to the Contender Round.
“I think everyone saw how fast he was last week and it probably made a lot of people nervous, but our team kept their heads up and stayed confident,” Logano said. “We know we can beat them. We know we’ve got what we need over here, and our team is as tight-knit as they get.
“I’m proud of them. I couldn’t be more proud of them. We had a lot of money stops today to keep us out front. The pit stops were great and I couldn’t be more proud of what they’re doing right now.”
Kenseth, the polesitter, led 72 laps in the early going before a litany of issues ultimately knocked him out of the race in 42nd place and left him in dire jeopardy of elimination from the Chase.
The coup de grace came on Lap 177 when contact between Kenseth and Ryan Newman sent both cars into the outside wall. Kenseth’s day ended on Lap 240, when his car shot into the Turn 3 wall after blowing a right front tire, the result of suspension damage from the earlier incident.
Multiple brushes with the outside wall, the first after contact with Carl Edwards , relegated Earnhardt to a 28th-place finish, four laps down.
Kyle Busch, the final major casualty, was running third under caution when his car collided with Kyle Larson after both made feints near the entrance to pit road. Busch bluffed a pit stop and Larson turned down into the No. 18 Toyota when Busch was trying to steer his car back onto the racing surfaces.
Despite subsequently sliding in a patch of oil and further damaging his car against the outside wall, Busch salvaged a 20th-place finish after the collision, but trails eighth-place Keselowski by 10 points. After the Oct. 25 race at Talladega, the Chase field will be cut from 12 drivers to eight. Newman finished 15th and is ninth in the standings, four points ahead of Busch.
Twelve drivers, six races, one championship, who will be the last man standing?
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!