Logano spins Kenseth with 7 laps left, goes on to win at Kansas

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Joey Logano pushed Matt Kenseth out of the way with seven laps remaining and then sailed on to his second consecutive win in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Logano, who already is qualified for Round 3 of the Chase after last week’s race at Charlotte, clipped the left rear of Kenseth’s car after the latter attempted to block Logano.

Kenseth told NBC: “I pulled up in front of him and he just lifted my tires off the ground and wrecked me. I won’t talk to Joey. I don’t have anything to talk to him about really. … I’ve always raced him with a ton of respect and have been one of his biggest fans. I’m certainly not anymore.”

Logano defended his actions: “I felt like I got pinched twice on the straightaways. He raced me hard and I raced him hard back. If I get raced like that, I’ll race the same way.”

Kenseth led the most laps (153) and finished 14th.

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

The scheduled 267-lap race was extended to 269 laps due to a green-white-checker finish brought about by the caution for Kenseth’s spin.

It was Logano’s 13th career Sprint Cup win and his second consecutive fall Chase victory at Kansas.

Denny Hamlin finished second, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch.

 

HOW LOGANO WON: Kenseth blocked Logano and the latter wasn’t going to let it happen again. The contact caused Kenseth to spin and put Logano into the lead.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD DAY: Despite what happened to Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing had yet another strong run with its other three drivers in the top eight: Denny Hamlin (second), Kyle Buch (fifth) and Carl Edwards (eighth). … Hendrick Motorsports also had a strong day – with the exception of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 21st. Jimmie Johnson, who was eliminated from the Chase after the first round, finished third. New father Kasey Kahne was fourth, and Jeff Gordon finished 10th. … Ryan Blaney finished seventh.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Clint Bowyer wrecked his Toyota on Lap 170. Bowyer finished 40th. … Dale Earnhardt Jr. finds himself in a must-win situation next Sunday at Talladega after finishing 21st. … Tony Stewart and Kyle Larson both spun in the first half of the race. Stewart finished 35th, six laps down, while Larson was 29th, four laps down. … Austin Dillon was running as high as fifth when he lost a right front tire on Lap 155, just past the halfway mark. Dillon suffered significant damage to the right side of his car after it hit the wall, leading to a 41st-place finish.

NOTABLE: AJ Allmendinger and Trevor Bayne had a scrum on Lap 108. Allmendinger told his team on the radio that Bayne forced him into the wall, so Allmendinger retaliated with a number of bumps into the rear end of Bayne’s car. … Kevin Harvick lost his bid to win when the gas can fell out of his pit stall after Harvick pulled away, leading to a stop-and-go penalty that caused him to lose at least one lap. When he came to serve his penalty, the shifter handle in his car broke, forcing him to shift manually for the remainder of the race. Harvick finished 16th. … Martin Truex Jr. is eighth in the standings, just six points ahead of Kyle Busch, who is one of four drivers below the Chase cut-off line heading to Talladega.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I got some air, it bit and turned me. I probably should have just spun to the inside, but I thought I could save it. Guess what? I did not save it. It was a hard hit. It was a wake-up call.” – Clint Bowyer after his crash.

WHAT’S NEXT: The most unpredictable race of the Chase is on tap next Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway in the CampingWorld.com 500. This is the final race of Round 2 of the Chase; the four lowest-ranked drivers afterward will be eliminated from further advancement in the Chase.

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NASCAR America: Matt Kenseth unable to realize potential due to team’s mistakes

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Sunday’s pit road mistake — having seven crew members over the wall when only six are allowed — not only knocked Matt Kenseth out of the race, it also knocked him out of advancing in the NASCAR Cup playoffs.

As a result, Kenseth lost out on his bid to earn a second Cup championship in what could potentially be his last season in the Cup series.

And it wasn’t the first time Kenseth has suffered through issues not of his making this season and in prior seasons.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, Kyle Petty, Dale Jarrett and Nate Ryan all gave their thoughts on what happened to Kenseth — and they didn’t hold back, either.

Click on the above video to hear what they had to say about Kenseth’s misfortune and how it could potentially impact his legacy going forward.

 

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s picks for Championship 4

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On Monday’s editions of NASCAR America, Dale Earnhardt Jr. gave his predictions for which of the eight remaining championship-eligible drivers — including Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott — will make it to the Championship 4 round.

In addition to Johnson and Elliott, Junior also makes it known in the above video that he’s also pulling for Ryan Blaney. He may even throw in a surprise to his picks.

Our NASCAR America team of analysts go over Junior’s picks and give their take, as well.

We don’t want to spill the beans of who Junior is picking here, so click on the video above to find out, as well as what our analysts think about his picks.

 

 

 

Long: Kyle Larson’s playoff exit significant to title contenders

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Lost among questions about rules, confusion on pit road and chaos on the track Sunday was just how significant Kyle Larson’s departure from the playoff is.

The owner of four wins this season, Larson was one of the few drivers who typically could race with Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch on the 1.5-mile tracks and some even considered Larson the championship favorite if he made it to Miami.

“I think Kyle Larson was going to be the car to beat, and still will be the car to beat at Homestead,’’ said Adam Stevens, crew chief for Kyle Busch. “Now that he’s not in the (playoff) mix anymore, it probably opens it up for the rest of us.’’

Said Kevin Harvick: “I think you eliminated the best car at Homestead. That’s a big deal. For everybody.’’

Larson entered Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway with a 29-point cushion before his title hopes ended when his engine blew with nearly 200 laps left. He finished 39th.

“It’s crazy,’’ Cole Pearn, crew chief for Martin Truex Jr., said of Larson’s playoff exit. “You can’t ever be safe, for sure.’’

Sunday marked the first time since 2013 that Larson failed to finish a race because of an engine failure. His first two career Cup races ended early because of engine issues that season.

Larson’s departure was as shocking as Busch’s exit in 2014 when he entered the elimination race at Talladega second in the standings with a 25-point cushion to advance to the next round.

Now a spot many presumed would be taken by Larson is open for someone else.

WORK REMAINS

Jimmie Johnson overcame two spins to finish 11th and advance to the Round of 8, moving a step closer to an eighth championship.

Crew chief Chad Knaus, though, wasn’t pleased after Sunday’s race.

On the radio afterward, Knaus said: “That was a pitiful performance.’’

Knaus had more to say after the race, telling NBC Sports:

“We ran like (expletive deleted). It was a bad weekend. We managed to capitalize on some other people’s misfortune, which was great for us. We’ve got some work to do. I don’t know what’s going on. We definitely don’t have the speed that we need.

“Good news is we’ve got three really good race tracks coming up for us, at least historically. Very optimistic heading into Martinsville and going to Homestead this week to test, so hopefully we can hit on some stuff there to take to Texas. We obviously have run well there in the past. Phoenix has been a really good race track for us as well. We’ve got three great opportunities. Just got to do the best.’’

Knaus is right to be concerned. The second round was mistake-riddled for the team.

The pit crew failed to tighten all the lug nuts late in the race at Charlotte, forcing Johnson to back up partially into his stall to remedy the issue, costing him time and positions.

An error by the team’s spotter led to the crew working on Johnson’s damaged car before the red flag period had ended, leading to the team being parked. The team had hoped to run one more lap after being collected in a crash to gain at least one more point.

Then came Kansas’ woes with the lack of speed, an ill-handling car and a seven-time champion causing back-to-back cautions.

“It’s no real surprise that mile-and-a-halves have been a little bit of a struggle for us this year,’’ Johnson said. “We’re putting in the effort. These guys are working around the clock. I’m looking under every stone I can to try to find something as well. We just don’t have the speed yet.

“We’ve got a real opportunity at Martinsville. If we’re able to win there … it sets us up for Homestead.’’

COMMUNICATION WOES

The communication issues Matt Kenseth’s team had Sunday wasn’t the first time for that team and crew chief Jason Ratcliff in the playoffs.

In the penultimate race of the 2013 season, Kenseth struggled all weekend and then had a disastrous pit stop when there was confusion on if the team would change two or four tires. After the call was made for four tires, Kenseth had to back up because the car was on the air hose.

The result was a 23rd-place finish that left Kenseth so far behind Johnson needed only to finish 23rd or better in Miami to win the title. Ratcliff apologized to his crew on the radio after the race for the effort.

Sunday’s scenario was different but communication again proved key and a miscue will keep the team from having a chance to race for a title.

“That’s one thing about that pit stall (closest to pit entrance), makes it difficult,’’ Ratcliff said. “You get to pit road really quick. You have a little less time to communicate. Thankfully, we don’t fall under the damaged vehicle policy that much. Other than last week at Talladega we did. We missed a head count there.’’

So what happened?

“Two of them were holding tires (over the wall),’’ Ratcliff said of crew members. “We have a gameplan. We have a gameplan that has worked really good for us all year and … I don’t know if someone missed the call there or I didn’t communicate properly. Typically, it boils down to communication and that’s what happened there.’’

When Kenseth was told on the radio that he was being parked for having too many crew members work on his car while under the five-minute clock for crash damage, the former champion sounded incredulous that his — last? — chance to win a title ended in such a way.

With no plans announced for next year, there’s no guarantee Kenseth will be racing for a championship again. Now the goal becomes a win.

“We’ve had some great runs at Martinsville and there would be nothing greater than going there and finally getting that win with Matt,’’ Ratcliff said. “That would be special. Would it make up for not having a shot at Homestead? No, but it would be sweet to have that happen with just a few races to go in the season.’’

PIT STOPS

The final eight Cup playoff contenders include four former champions — Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. There has been a first-time champion in three of the last five years, which could be a good sign for playoff drivers Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. … With winning the pole at Kansas, Truex Jr.’s team earned the first pick of pit stalls also at Martinsville this weekend because qualifying is on the same day as the race there.

Memorial service to be held Friday for Furniture Row Racing team member Jim Watson

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A memorial service for Furniture Row Racing crew member Jim Watson will be held Friday in Lincolnton, North Carolina, his family announced Monday.

Watson, who served in a number of roles for both the No. 78 of Martin Truex Jr. and No. 77 of Erik Jones, passed away Saturday night after suffering a heart attack in Kansas City, Kansas, where the teams were preparing for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race.

Watson was 55.

MORE: Furniture Row Racing crew member dies of heart attack

MORE: Long: Tears turn to cheers for Furniture Row Racing

The memorial will be from 4-6 p.m. ET Friday at the Warlick Funeral Home, 125 Dave Warlick Drive, in Lincolnton.

Watson’s obituary was included in the announcement of the memorial service:

Watson was born Sept. 27, 1962, in Kenosha, Wis., to Betty Paulus Watson and the late David Harrison Watson. He is survived by his wife, Laurie Ann Watson; a daughter, Brittany May Watson; his mother, Betty L. Watson; brother, Mike Watson; stepchildren, Eric James Conover and fiancé Claudia Rodriguez, and Matthew Sean Conover; Michael Patrick Conover, and wife Michele, and Nicholas Ian Conover; three grandchildren, Patrick Michael Conover, Michael Winston Conover, and Coleton Daniel Conover; nieces, Jennifer Watson and Katie J. Ballou; and many other uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorials be made to hatsalive.org.