EXCLUSIVE – Logano: NASCAR ‘needed to regain control of our sport’

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LAS VEGAS – Joey Logano said NASCAR made the right decision to suspend Matt Kenseth two races for wrecking him at Martinsville Speedway because series officials “needed to regain control of our sport.’’

Logano made those comments in an exclusive interview Wednesday with NASCAR Talk’s Tony DiZinno at the Whelen booth at the SEMA Show in the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“Obviously, they put their foot down,’’ Logano told DiZinno. “I feel like it’s a good thing. They needed to regain control of our sport. I feel like it’s a good direction and the right thing to do.’’

Denny Hamlin, a former teammate of Logano and current teammate to Kenseth, was vocal Wednesday in saying that NASCAR’s penalty to Kenseth left the driver code on conduct toward one another “more compromised than ever.’’

Hamlin noted that “NASCAR has said in years past and they even said this year, they like the drivers to police themselves.’’

Logano told DiZinno he didn’t see it that way.

“I don’t think there’s an actual code,’’ Logano said. “I think everyone’s driver code is different. No one has ever sat down with anyone and said this is the code. I think everyone uses common sense, and that’s what the driver code is.’’

Logano also reaffirmed that his contact with Kenseth at Kansas was different from what happened at Martinsville. At Kansas, they were racing for the lead in the final laps. At Martinsville, Kenseth was 10 laps down and Logano led with 45 laps left.

“If I look at Kansas, it’s a racing thing,’’ Logano told DiZinno. “If I look at the way we were racing each other, he threw some blocks, I understand that. The third one, I was on the inside, I didn’t back out. There’s really not much for me to say to him after that.

“That was kind of what happened. And he knows what happened. He’s a smart enough race car driver to know what happened. Whatever happened at Martinsville was, apparently to NASCAR, unacceptable.’’

Both Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. said this week that they believe Logano didn’t help himself with comments he made after the Kansas race, saying that further ignited the situation with Kenseth and played a role in Kenseth’s desire for retaliation.

Logano said he had not heard what Gordon or Earnhardt said, but defended himself.

“I think this is a test of your character and a test of your faith,’’ Logano told DiZinno. “You need to stay true to your character in these types of situations and the type of person you are. It’s an amazing opportunity is the way I look at it. We have an opportunity right now to win a championship.

“Our minds are focused on doing that. We can be the great team we know we are. This isn’t going to shut us down. We’re way stronger than that. I’m excited to get to Texas. I’m excited to get back on the track and give it our best shot.’’

The Sprint Cup series heads to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for the second race in the third round. It airs on NBC. Eight title contenders remain. Four will advance to the championship round at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Jeff Gordon secured a spot in the championship round with his Martinsville win.

Kenseth is not eligible for the title after failing to advance from the second round. He is appealing the two-race suspension. That will be heard Thursday.

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NASCAR Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick still No. 1 after quiet Vegas

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Kevin Harvick didn’t have a flashy night Sunday in Las Vegas, but it didn’t keep him from retaining the No. 1 spot in this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings.

After winning the Bristol night race, Harvick finished in the top 10 in the first two stages in Vegas before placing 10th at race’s end.

Kurt Busch’s win at his home track vaulted him into the top 10 as 12 drivers received votes.

More: Playoff standings after Las Vegas

Here is this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings:

1. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 1): In the last eight races he’s won three times and finished outside the top 10 only twice.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 5): Placed fourth for his 11th top-five finish in the last 14 races.

3. Alex Bowman (Last week unranked): Finished fifth for his second top five and fifth top-10 finish in the last six races.

4. Denny Hamlin (Last week unranked): Left Vegas with a third-place finish to snap a three-race streak of finishing outside the top 10.

5. Kurt Busch (Last week unranked): Snapped a 46-race winless streak with his victory and advanced to the Round of 8.

6. Kyle Busch (Last week No. 3): Finished sixth after a “dismal” night. He has four consecutive top 10s.

7. Brad Keselowski (Last week No. 5): Finished 13th to give him two finishes outside the top 10 since he won at Richmond.

8. Chase Briscoe (Last week unranked): Opened the Xfinity playoffs with his second consecutive win.

8. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 2): Led 73 laps, but had to settle for a 22nd-place finish in Vegas.

8. Joey Logano (Last week No. 3): Finished 14th for his second straight finish outside the top 10.

Also receiving votes: Erik Jones and Chris Buescher.

NASCAR announces changes to Kansas playoff weekend

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Citing “programming changes,” NASCAR announced shifts in the race dates and start times for its visit next month to Kansas Speedway.

The Xfinity, ARCA and Truck Series races have been shifted, while the Cup race remains at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 18.

The biggest move is the Truck Series race shifting from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.

Here are the changes.

Friday, Oct. 16, 8:30 p.m. ETARCA Menards Series on FS1 or FS2; network TBD at a later date (previously at 10 p.m. ET)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 4 p.m. ETTruck Series on FOX (previously Friday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. ET on FS1)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m. ET Xfinity on NBCSN (previously 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

 

Xfinity Series playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Chase Briscoe opened the Xfinity Series playoffs by earning his second consecutive win.

His victory Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway gives him 57 playoff points and an automatic spot in the Round of 8.

Harrison Burton holds the final transfer spot. He has a two-point advantage over Ross Chastain.

Behind Chastain below the cutline are Michael Annett (-10 points), Riley Herbst (-14) and Brandon Brown (-20).

Below is the full Xfinity Series playoff standings going into Saturday’s race at Talladega (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance. Drivers in yellow are in the remaining playoff spots.

Xfinity Series playoff standings

Cup playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Kurt Busch flipped the script on the Cup playoff standings with his win Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

He entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings, but is the first driver to clinch a spot in the Round of 8.

Replacing Busch in the bottom spot of the playoff standings is Austin Dillon. He is 32 points behind Alex Bowman, who holds the final cutoff spot.

Behind Bowman is Kyle Busch (-9 points), Clint Bowyer (-20), Aric Almirola (-27) and Dillon.

“Obviously, the 1 car (Kurt Busch) was not a car that we needed to win a race,” Clint Bowyer said after Sunday’s race. “It’s been a hell of a battle back there with cars that are kind of in the same wheelhouse as far as points-wise. (Kurt Busch) winning changes that landscape quite a bit, but we’re only 20 points out.”

Here is the full playoff standings entering Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance to the Round of 8. Drivers in yellow hold the remaining available playoff spots.

Cup playoff standings