Logano wins at ‘Dega; Earnhardt, Kenseth, Hamlin, Newman eliminated

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Joey Logano held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the start of a green-white-checker attempt before another caution froze the field of Sunday’s CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, handing the victory to Logano.

The race finished eight laps longer than the 188 scheduled laps, making it a 196-lap event. There was one attempt at a green-white-checkered finish after NASCAR altered the policy (which normally permits three attempts) for Talladega only.

Logano swept all three races in Round 2 with wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Talladega.

There was one GWC attempt to restart the race after a late caution on Lap 184 when Jamie McMurray‘s engine expired. However, the field failed to reach the start/finish line prior to yet another caution resulting from contact between Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson, prompting NASCAR to rule it was not an official GWC attempt and that the race had not resumed.

That prompted another GWC, and Logano was ahead of Earnhardt by about a half-fender when the green flag dropped on the restart, followed almost immediately by a race-ending caution that involved at least a dozen cars, the only big wreck of the race.

The multicar crash appeared to start when Kevin Harvick, whose No. 4 Chevrolet was experiencing engine problems, hit the No. 6 Ford of Trevor Bayne.

Just as important as the win was for Logano, the other big story was the four drivers who were eliminated from advancement in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Nearly one hour after the race ended and much discussion and review of video tape, NASCAR officials determined that the final results stood — for now. However, those results remain unofficial until NASCAR does further review and rules those results official on Monday.

Pending any change when results are made official, Earnhardt, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman were eliminated as the Chase field was cut from 12 to just eight remaining drivers.

Earnhardt led a race-high 61 laps and finished second, unofficially followed by Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards. Sixth through 10th appeared to be Paul MenardMartin Truex Jr.,Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kurt Busch.

MORE: Results and earnings from CampingWorld.com 500

MORE: Points reset heading into Round 3 of the Chase

How Logano won: In perhaps the most important restart of the season, Logano crossed the start/finish line as the green flag fell on Lap 196. Almost immediately afterward, a multi-car wreck occurred, prompting NASCAR to throw a caution flag that immediately froze the field and ended the race.

Who else had a good race: Despite being eliminated from advancement to Round 3 in the Chase, Dale Earnhardt Jr. still had a strong run. He led the most laps (61) and finished second. … Even though he still has yet to win a race in 2015, pole-sitter Jeff Gordon finished third in his final race at Talladega and advances to Round 3 of the Chase. … Even though he was eliminated from the Chase after Round 1, Paul Menard had a strong run and finished sixth in Sunday’s race.

Who had a bad race: Denny Hamlin was hampered by a loose exit hatch above him, causing him to fall two laps off the pace and to be eliminated from the Chase. It was a similar situation to that of teammate Kyle Busch last year, who came into Talladega ranked No. 2, but exited No. 11 and was eliminated from advancing to Round 3. … Jamie McMurray was running strong until his engine expired on Lap 184. Justin Allgaier and Ryan Blaney both suffered early exits due to engine problems, as well. … Matt Kenseth was in a win-or-else situation, but finished 26th, being involved in the last-lap multi-car wreck.

Notable: In his 59th career start at Talladega, Michael Waltrip had a strong run, finishing 13th. … Logano has now won 11 races in the last two seasons, the most of any driver in that period. Logano is also the first driver to win three straight Chase wins since Jimmie Johnson in the 2007 Chase and 2004 Chase. … There were no issues in post-race inspection. The cars of Logano, Earnhardt, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman and Michael Waltrip were all taken back to the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, N.C., for further inspection, as is routine after every race.

Quote of the day: “I was thirsty anyway. There were a couple of iced cold Coca-Cola’s, too. Everything’s okay. I was trying to peg them off the front bumper, off the windshield. It was cool they exploded. It was kind of neat.” – Race winner Joey Logano after his car was hit by several thrown cans of beer and soda after the final lap.

What’s next: Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500, Nov. 1, Martinsville Speedway.

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