Joey Logano won his third consecutive race in NASCAR’s Chase on Sunday, taking the CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in bizarre fashion.
Logano, who swept the three second-round races in the Chase, edged a desperate Dale Earnhardt Jr. after a wreck broke out at the start of a green-white-checkered finish. Logano led Earnhardt by just a few feet when the multcar accident happened behind them, ending the race. The overtime had gone back to caution a few laps earlier when another wreck –involving Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson – occurred before Logano and Earnhardt crossed the start-finish line.
Earnhardt, who needed to win to advance to the third round, finished second. Jeff Gordon was third and Brad Keselowski fourth.
NASCAR hadn’t announced the eight drivers who will advance into the third round of the Chase as of 30 minutes after the race. Because of his victories, Logano is the only driver who was guaranteed a spot.
Logano was the only driver who automatically qualified for the eight-man third round. He’s joined by Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. Earnhardt, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth were eliminated.
It was the second consecutive week that Logano won in controversial fashion. He nudged Kenseth out of the way last weekend with five laps left to win at Kansas.
Logano led Earnhardt by just a few feet – if that – when a multicar wreck brought out the yellow flag at the start of a green-white-checkered finish. That ended the race, giving Logano the victory.
How the NASCAR Chase drivers fared:
1. Joey Logano (3,142 points)*: Dominated second round completely –winning all three races.
2. Carl Edwards (27 behind): Was never in position to win but finished fifth and moved easily into third round.
3. Jeff Gordon (29 behind): Pole winner was near the front of the pack for much of the day, finished third and moved into third round.
4. Kurt Busch (30 behind): Managed to stay out of trouble all day, finishing 10th and advancing comfortably into third round.
5. Brad Keselowski (31 behind): Fourth-place finish allows him to advance, stayed in front of all the mayhem during the green-white-checkered finish.
6. Martin Truex Jr. (35 behind): Recovered from having to start at rear of field after qualifying penalty (going below yellow line), finishing seventh and moving into third round.
7. Kevin Harvick (41 behind): Makes third round after finishing 15th, but wreck he caused during green-white checkered finish will be questioned for a long time.
8. Kyle Busch (44 behind): Passed three cars during overtime, allowing him to slip into third round.
9. Ryan Newman (47 behind): Wasn’t among top eight entering race, and he could manage no better than a 12th-place finish..
10. Denny Hamlin (52 behind): Had problems with broken escape hatch in his roof, having to pit at least three times to tape it down. Had made it back where he had a chance to advance but was taken out in final wreck, finishing 37th.
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (59 behind): Had the fastest car and led the most laps but that doesn’t always work out. Needed to win to advance but finished second.
12. Matt Kenseth (88 behind): Another driver who was in a must-win situation, but a 26th-place finish dashes his championship hopes.
Notes: * automatically advances with three second-round victories; third-round field will start with 4,000 points each.
▪ The single green-white-checkered flag rule was tested to its limits. NASCAR held fast to its rule – that the first wreck happened before the green flag waved, allowing for a restart. Then the race was halted after the second wreck, which happened after the caution light came on.
▪ Like Jimmie Johnson at Dover (Del.), Hamlin’s championship hopes ended because of a broken part. Johnson’s car had a broken rear axle seal, Hamlin’s a broken latch to the escape hatch in the roof of his car.
▪ Yes, points are all equal heading into the third round, but the momentum Logano is carrying is going to be tough for others to overcome. But, again, all it takes is one bad race ...
They said it
“I didn't think it was possible, I can tell you that much.” – Logano, on winning three races in the second round.
“It was crazy the way it always happens here, but I guess that’s what does always happen here.” – Kyle Busch.
“I would say we were probably the lowest stressed group coming into today.” – Logano crew chief Todd Gordon.
This week’s race
Where: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway
When: 1:15 p.m., Sunday
TV: NBC Sports Network