Joey Logano grabs big win at Charlotte to start 2nd round of Chase

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Joey Logano dominated Sunday’s Bank of America 500, leading 227 of 334 laps to capture the checkered flag at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

It was Logano’s first career Sprint Cup win at the 1.5-mile track and his fourth of the season.

“You always want to win at Charlotte,” Logano told NBCSN. “It’s everyone’s home turf, everyone lives around here, the race shops are around here, so to be able to win here is a special thing to knock off the bucket list.”

Logano not only takes over the lead in the Sprint Cup standings with the win, he also has an automatic advancement berth to the third round of the Chase.

“It’s nice to get that pressure off and really allow yourself to recharge your batteries before the next round and not have your tongue hanging out just to get through this round,” Logano said. “This is a big weight off our shoulders as a team, and especially as a driver, and it feels really good and to be able to know we’re in the next round.”

Kevin Harvick finished second, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Austin Dillon, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski and Aric Almiroa rounding out the top 10.

But it was a bad day for a number of other drivers, including Matt Kenseth (finished 42nd), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (28th) and Kyle Busch (20th), who all had issues that resulted in mediocre to poor finishes, leaving them deep in the Chase standings.

MORE: Results, stats and winnings for the Bank of America 500

MORE: Sprint Cup driver points following Bank of America 500

How did Logano win: Once he got past Matt Kenseth on Lap 77, Logano’s car drove like it was on a rail. The only driver who seemed like he might have anything to challenge Logano was Kevin Harvick. But Harvick could never catch up and wound up finishing second. “We had such a fast car today, leading a ton of laps,” Logano said. “This Shell Pennzoil Ford was unstoppable.”

Who else had a good race: Looking like he did earlier this season, Martin Truex kept digging to wind up third. … The highest-finishing non-Chase driver was Austin Dillon, who had one of the best races of his Sprint Cup career with a seventh-place showing. … Aric Almirola continued his run of strong races, finishing 10th. … Clint Bowyer (11th) and Jamie McMurray (12th), who were both eliminated from the Chase after Dover, also had strong runs.

Who had a bad race: Dale Earnhardt Jr. made contact with Carl Edwards on Lap 73, stayed on the track, and then smacked the wall two laps later with a blown tire. Earnhardt again wrecked on Lap 190 when he hit fluid on the track. He finished 28th. … Matt Kenseth was having a great day until Lap 178, when he had contact with Ryan Newman and slammed the right side of his car into the wall. Kenseth, who led 73 laps early, had to return seven times to pit road for additional repairs. He wrecked yet again on Lap 241, was officially declared out and ultimately finished 42nd. … Kyle Larson was having one of his best runs of the season when he wrecked with Kyle Busch entering pit road on Lap 195. Both cars had moderate damage but were able to continue, even though they both had to come back onto pit road at least two times each to make further repairs. Larson was attempting to come on to pit road, while Busch decided to stay out, faking he was going to pit, and ran into Larson. Busch finished 20th, while Larson finished right behind in 21st. … Kasey Kahne twice hit the wall early in the race after apparent tire issues. He went to the garage after the second incident on Lap 62, his day over. Kahne finished 43rd.

Notable: Joey Logano passed the 1,000 laps led in a season mark Sunday for the first time in his career. And there’s still six races to left for him to add to that total. … Jimmie Johnson’s bad luck struck again. Johnson, who was eliminated from the Chase last week, was running third when he came onto pit road on Lap 267. His crew pushed him to the garage when Johnson suffered a broken oil pump, ending his day with a 39th place finish. … Denny Hamlin battled electrical issues for much of the race, but still finished fourth. … Brad Keselowski drove nearly the last 20 laps with a loose wheel, but still came away with a ninth-place finish. “It was a lot of work,” Keselowski said.

Quote of the day, No. 1: “You do the best you can every week. And if this is the best I can do, it’s amazing I have a job.” – Matt Kenseth after his rough day, including two wrecks that led to an eventual 42nd place finish. Kenseth is now last (12th) in the standings, 45 points behind series leader Joey Logano.

Quote of the day, No. 2: “I lost count how many times we hit (the wall) today. … It ain’t over, but it certainly didn’t help today and that’s not how we want to do it.” – Dale Earnhardt, who finished 28th, four laps down, and finds himself 11th in the standings, 32 points behind series leader Joey Logano.

What’s next: Sunday, Oct. 18 at 2:15 pm ET, Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.

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Xfinity playoff grid after Indianapolis

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Chase Briscoe‘s continued dominance of the Xfinity Series over the weekend on the Indianapolis road course ensured no additional drivers locked themselves into the 12-driver playoff field.

Through 13 races, Briscoe and four other drivers have qualified for the playoffs via race wins. Briscoe, who has five race wins, leads the field with 28 playoff points.

The last two drivers currently in the top 12 are Riley Herbst (+19 points above cutline) and Brandon Brown (+6 points).

The first four drivers outside the top 12 are Myatt Snider (-6), Alex Labbe (-32), Jeremy Clements (-49) and Josh Williams (-57).

Cup Series playoff grid after Brickyard 400

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With Kevin Harvick‘s victory Sunday in the Brickyard 400, no additional drivers locked themselves into the Cup Series playoff field.

But there was some movement at the bottom of the playoff grid as drivers jockey to make the 16-car field.

After he missed the race due to his COVID-19 diagnosis, Jimmie Johnson fell from 12th to 15th on the grid. He’s now 36 points above the cutline.

Matt DiBenedetto earned stage points in each stage before finishing 19th. He moved from 14th to 12th in the standings.

After earning stage points in both stages Sunday, Austin Dillon has cracked the top 16, moving up one spot. He has a six-point advantage over Erik Jones, who crashed out of Sunday’s race and had a 14-point advantage over Dillon entering the weekend.

With his ninth-place finish Sunday, Bubba Wallace is now within reach of the top 16. He sits at 19th, 42 points back from 16th.

Here’s the full playoff grid.

Oval or road course? Cup drivers address future of Brickyard 400

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For 27 years, the Cup Series has competed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with its annual Brickyard 400. All 27 of those races have been run exclusively on the track’s traditional 2.5-mile oval.

But following Saturday’s Xfinity Series race on the track’s 2.4-mile, 14-turn road course, an obvious question has been raised:

Should the Brickyard 400 remain on the oval, where passing is made difficult due to a combination of the rules package and the design of the track, or should moving it to the road course be considered?

“I would never vote for that,” Kevin Harvick declared last week before he won his third Brickyard 400 on Sunday. “I love everything about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For me it is all about the oval … racing on the traditional track because for me I am kind of old school and I think that the Cup cars belong and really started the Brickyard 400.

“That was kind of what it was always meant to be, that iconic one-off, just the Cup cars event. I think with the Xfinity cars and the trucks and (ARCA Menards) cars and all the things that used to race at IRP (Indianapolis Raceway Park), it was a great event. Hopefully the road course can kind of take that role that IRP used to have and be able to bring the Indy cars and NASCAR together to add to that event at the Speedway. For me personally, I would never vote for the Cup cars to not run on the oval.”

Harvick is joined in that camp by his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Aric Almirola, who finished third in Sunday’s race for his first top five and top-10 finish at Indy.

“I hope that we never stop running the oval,” Almirola said. “I just think it’s one of these places that regardless if it puts on the greatest race or not, it’s historic. It’s just a special place. It’s hard to explain when you don’t grow up a racer and you don’t aspire to come to race at Indy.

“But for me, I grew up watching stock car racing and dirt sprint car racing. I grew up watching Thursday Night Thunder, seeing so many guys go from USAC racing and sprint car racing to racing at Indy. It’s something I’ve always kept up with, always dreamed about getting the opportunity to race here. I get that opportunity now.”

Matt Kenseth, who finished second Sunday in his 20th Brickyard 400, said the Cup Series “should be” on the oval. But the Chip Ganassi Racing driver is open to the idea of Cup using the road course in some manner.

 “I think it’s one of those racetracks that we need to race at as long as we can,” Kenseth said of the oval. “It’s arguably the most famous speedway in the world, or one of them.

“To be able to race on the ovals with the Cup cars, which is the highest form of stock car racing here, we should be on the big track as well. I don’t think it would be bad to maybe test the road course and look into it, maybe do a second race on a road course, kind of like the IndyCars did this week.

“I really do think the Brickyard 400 has a lot of prestige. It’s not a southern race, but similar to the Southern 500, races like that. I think there’s a few of those races you sure would hate to see disappear.”

Crew chief describes ‘frightening’ scene on pit road at Indy

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Crew chief Todd Gordon said it was “frightening” to see rear tire changer Zach Price hit on pit road and then try to scoot away from cars during Sunday’s Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Price, who changes tires for Ryan Blaney’s team, was injured when he was struck by Brennan Poole’s car during a melee near the entrance of pit road early in the race.

Gordon, speaking Monday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, said indications are that Price’s injury was a “fracture someplace in the knee area.”

Price was treated and released from an Indianapolis hospital on Sunday night and traveled home with the team. Gordon said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that Price was scheduled to see a doctor Monday.

“Just hope to get him back and get him back going again and healthy,” Gordon said.

Gordon described what he saw as cars made contact.

“A really frightening moment for me,” he said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I was really terrorized when I saw (Price) drag himself back across the pit box arms only for a while there. As the situation kind of progressed and the medical staff was working with him, I could see in his face he was better off than I thought he was to start with.

“Fortunate that the guys got up and got at least in the air. The jackman (Graham Stoddard) got on top of the car. Just one of those terrible situations. I felt like those accidents happened mid-pit road. That’s why I picked way back there to be behind it.”

Said Justin Allgaier, who was involved in the accident on pit road that led to six cars eventually being eliminated:  “The No. 15 (Poole) actually got in the back of me. I didn’t know if I got the gentleman on (Blaney’s pit crew) or not. Once the wreck started happening in front of us and we all got bottled-up there, one car after another were getting run into.”

Indianapolis’ pit road is the most narrow of all the tracks the Cup Series races. The two travel lanes are 24 feet wide. The pit stall for each team is 15 feet wide.