Joey Logano became the first Cup Series driver to punch his ticket to Phoenix in 2020 by winning at Kansas Speedway on Sunday afternoon.
“You’ve got to want it, man!” said an exhausted and exuberant Logano after the race. “I’m worn out. I spent more time in the mirror than I was in the windshield there. But pitstops put us in position there to get the lead. And, the 4 [of Kevin Harvick] fast. He’s really fast, especially on the straightaways. I thought, if I can hold him off the first 15 laps, I have a chance.”
The Round of Eight in the NASCAR Cup Series took the green flag at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, October 18th, with winds blowing 15 mph North Northeast, bringing no aid to a crisp temp of 42 degrees.
Chase Elliott would lead the field to the drop of the green flag in his No. 9 NAP Auto Parts Chevy Camaro, with Joey Logano in his No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang to his outside. Behind them lined up fellow Playoff Drivers Kurt Busch in his No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 Jimmy Johns Ford.
Scheduled to start 5th was Martin Truex Jr., however, due to two inspection failures pre-race, he was forced to start from the back of the field. This moved Alex Bowman in his No. 88 ChevyGoods.com Chevrolet into 5th. Denny Hamlin lined up 6th in his No. 11 FedEx Toyota, with Brad Keselowski in the No. 2 Discount Tire Ford lined up 7th, rounding out the eight playoff drivers.
Elliott would lead the way through the first 25 laps until the competition caution came out. Harvick was in 2nd with Hamlin in third and Logano rounding out the top four.
After the caution, Byron led the field momentarily before being overtaken by Elliott. However, Elliott was then overtaken by Harvick on lap 32. However, in the final laps of stage one, Elliott would regain the lead from Harvick to take the stage win.
After the pit stops under caution, Hamlin found himself in the lead. Elliott would regain it from Hamlin momentarily before Hamlin reasserted himself at the front of the pack just a lap after losing it.
Hamlin would lead through lap 124 before heading to the pits, relinquishing the lead to Brad Keselowski, as the field cycled through green-flag stops. Keselowski would come in to pit on lap 130, giving the lead to Kurt Busch, who then pitted on the following lap.
This put Matthew DiBenedetto in the lead momentarily as they continued to shuffle through green-flag stops. Before the field shuffled all the way through, the caution came out with 17 laps to go in the stage with DiBenedetto still leading.
The caution was for an incident between Erik Jones in the the No. 20 Toyota, and Matt Kenseth in the No. 42 Chevy. This lined the field back for a restart with 11 laps to go in stage two and Hamlin back in the lead.
As the final stage got underway, Kyle Busch led the field, with Logano on his inside. Busch relinquished the lead to Logano. Then a lap later, it was Harvick taking the top spot. On lap 197, the caution came back out as Kurt Busch’s engine blew. This would allow Hamlin a chance to get his lap back.
As the field went back green, it was Harvick still leading the field and Kyle Busch in 2nd, with 62 laps to go. Harvick took full control of the lead and started to pull away.
Tha caution would come out for a 6th time as Tyler Reddick got into the wall in turn three. After the pit stops, it would be Logano at the front with Harvick on his inside.
The two drivers would battle it out in the final 25 laps for the win, as Logano worked the lanes and tried to hold off Harvick. In the final three laps, Harvick would try to make his move multiple times. However, Logano was able to block him every time.
As the checkered flag flew, it was Logano’s win, as he punched his ticket to Phoenix and the Championship Four. Harvick finished in 2nd just over three-tenths of a second behind Logano, and Bowman clocked in 3rd.
The NASCAR Cup Series will now head south to Texas Motor Speedway, as the window for the final Seven drives not in the Champ 4 to make their claim to fame, and a shot at glory in Phoenix.
Featured Image Courtesy of NASCAR