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.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Kurt Busch seeks first Las Vegas win, but without hometown fans

Kurt Busch
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A win by Kurt Busch in tonight’s Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBCSN) couldn’t come under more bittersweet circumstances for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver.

Should Busch claim the victory on the 1.5-mile track, he’d go from being the last driver on the playoff grid (3,001 points entering the race) to the first driver to advance to the Round of 8.

While it would be his first victory of the year, it would also be his first NASCAR win at his home track in 23 starts across the Cup and Xfinity Series.

More: Stage points critical at Vegas

“The Vegas track has definitely been one of the tough ones for me over the years with results and finishes not where I would have expected them to be,” Busch said this week. “And the teams that I’ve raced for just have never quite found that right magic set-up or combination. And then for me, it’s a track that I just have that trouble with.

“There are a few tracks like Indianapolis and Martinsville; those are a few places where I struggle. And so with Vegas, I always put that little extra hometown pressure on myself and I would love to win there.”

The 42-year-old Las Vegas-native rolls off ninth on the 1.5-mile track. It’s his fourth while driving for Ganassi.

In his 21 Cup starts in Las Vegas, Busch’s best result is third in 2005 when he competed for Roush Fenway Racing. He has just one other top five. That came in last year’s spring race when he drove a throwback paint scheme to his 1999 NASCAR Southwest Series championship.

That day he led 23 laps. It was only the seventh time he’d led laps there and just the third time he’d totaled more than six laps led.

In February, Busch finished 25th.

If Busch were to finally make it to Vegas’ Victory Lane, the celebration would be somewhat muted.

It was announced last weekend that fans would not be allowed to attend the races at Las Vegas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would love to win through the spirit of the camera and everything on NBC Sports; and I know the fans there, local, will be watching and cheering on the Busch brothers,” Busch said. “So, that’s where I would connect. And hopefully do it through the TV side of it. We’ll get fans back one day and we’ll come back and race.”

Busch enters the Round of 12 having earned just one top 10 in the first round, an eighth-place finish at Darlington. He finished 13th at Richmond and 15th at Bristol.

“What I like is we have had better lap times at all three races so far compared to maybe the five or six races leading into the playoffs,” Busch said. “We know that our cushion is gone. We ended Bristol with 33 points to the good. And now we start Vegas minus four (points behind Austin Dillon in the cutoff spot). So that’s just part of the system and now we have to be perfect. We have to get every point possible that we’re able to get on our own at Vegas, Talladega, and the Roval. And, that should help us advance.”

Carolina Blue: Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan bonded by NASCAR

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Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan were teammates from 1982-84 at the University of North Carolina and Eastern Conference rivals throughout the 1980s and ’90s in the NBA.

But their friendship was about more than just hoops. While growing up on opposite ends of the Tar Heel State, Daugherty and Jordan both developed a passion for following NASCAR.

Tobacco Road meant fast cars and hard-driving heroes for these two North Carolina natives.

LIFELONG FAN: Michael Jordan explains why he’s partnering with Denny Hamlin

In a NASCAR on NBC feature, Daugherty recalls how NASCAR impacted his life and Jordan’s and led both into team ownership. Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin announced they will form a team to field cars for Bubba Wallace next season.

Daughterty notes in the feature that Wallace “has led a dynamic transformation as NASCAR banned Confederate flags and recommitted to inclusion amidst times of great unrest. This is a huge moment for NASCAR, a cultural momentum shift. This is people of all colors coming together to create an all-American race team already with championship lineage.

“With proper funding, equipment and crewmembers, this will be the best chance ever for a Black driver to win – and while driving for a Black owner. An opportunity to shock the world like Muhammad Ali once did.”

Watch the feature above on Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan or by clicking this link.

Las Vegas Xfinity results, driver points

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Chase Briscoe‘s victory Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway sends him into the next round of the Xfinity playoffs.

Noah Gragson led a 2-3-4 finish for JR Motorsports. Gragson was second and followed by Daniel Hemric and Justin Allgaier. Ryan Sieg finished fifth.

Briscoe dominated the race, leading 164 of the 200 laps.

Click here for Xfinity race results

POINTS

Ross Chastain finished 16th, last among the playoff drivers, and fell out of a transfer spot to the second round. He’s two points behind Harrison Burton for the final transfer spot. Michael Annett is 10 points behind Burton. Riley Herbst is 14 points behind Burton. Brandon Brown is 20 points behind Burton.

Click here for driver points report

Chase Briscoe scores 8th Xfinity win of year with Las Vegas triumph

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Chase Briscoe met a preseason goal of winning eight races with his victory in Saturday night’s Xfinity playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Briscoe, who also won at Las Vegas in February, advances to the second round.

Briscoe dominated, winning both stages on the way to his second consecutive victory and eighth of the year. He led 164 of 200 laps.

“Awesome car,” Briscoe said on the radio of the car that also won at this 1.5-mile speedway earlier this year. “Can’t say enough, awesome car.”

Gragson said of Briscoe’s car on NBCSN: “Lot of race cars out here and one space shuttle.”

Las Vegas native Noah Gragson finished second and was followed by JR Motorsports teammates Daniel Hemric and Justin Allgaier. Ryan Sieg placed fifth.

Austin Cindric placed sixth and was followed by Michael Annett, Anthony Alfredo, Harrison Burton and Justin Haley.

Briscoe’s eight wins through 27 races ties him with Jack Ingram and Sam Ard for the most wins by non-Cup drivers through 27 races in a season. Ard and Ingram both did it in 1984. Briscoe’s eight wins ties him with Carl Edwards for most wins by a Ford driver in a season in the Xfinity Series. Edwards accomplished the feat in 2011.

“I knew this team was fully capable of achieving that and even more,” Briscoe told NBCSN of winning eight races this year. “I just can’t say thank you enough to Gene Haas and Tony Stewart and everyone that lets me drive these race cars. It has been an unbelievable season and we still have a lot, six more wins that we can try to get and a championship. That is what we are going to try to do. I am so happy to start the playoffs like this. After the last couple weeks we had, to go to Bristol and win and now here is a pretty good way to start our playoffs.”

The 25-year-old Briscoe does not know where he’ll run next season. He has a year left on his contract with Ford.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Chase Briscoe

STAGE 2 WINNER: Chase Briscoe

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ryan Sieg’s fifth-place finish is his fifth top five of the season, the most he’s had in a season. … Runner-up Noah Gragson has finished in the top six in all four of his Xfinity Las Vegas starts. He did it by overcoming a bloody nose during the race. At one point, he put roll bar padding up his nose to clog it. … Daniel Hemric had finished 24th or worse in four of his last five starts before Saturday’s race. He finished third at Las Vegas.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ross Chastain finished 16th, last among the playoff drivers. It’s his first finish outside the top 10 at a 1.5-mile speedway this season.

NEXT: The series races Oct. 3 at Talladega Superspeedway (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) in the middle race of the opening round of the playoffs.