Joey Logano dominates to win FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan

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Joey Logano dominated to win Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Logano won for the second time in three years (August 2013) at the 2-mile oval, leading 138 of the 200 laps. It also was Logano’s first points win of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series season and 15th of his Cup career.

MORE: Results of FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan

MORE: Sprint Cup points after Michigan — Dale Jr. loses ground, Tony Stewart gains

Logano took the lead for the final time on Lap 153 and never yielded the remainder of the way. It was also the 100th career Sprint Cup win for Roush Yates Engines.

Rookie Chase Elliott finished second, followed by Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick.

Two major incidents in the race stood out.

Misfortune struck Kyle Busch for the fourth consecutive race when his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry caught fire on the backstretch of Lap 54, after the engine expired, spewing oil that ignited. Busch managed to douse the fire with the onboard fire extinguisher, and his car limped to the garage.

“I had a 30-lap warning it was coming,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “It was shaking real bad and going south for a while and building it’s own heat.”

Busch came into Sunday’s race having finished 30th at Dover International Speedway, 33rd at Charlotte Motor Speedway and 31st at Pocono Raceway. He finished a season-worst 40th.

On Lap 62, coming off Turn 2 and three-wide, Chris Buescher made contact with the left-rear fender of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car, sending it up into the outside retaining wall and collecting A.J. Allmendinger’s car in the process.

“(Buescher) just drove into the left-rear quarter panel, man,” Earnhardt told Fox Sports 1. “I don’t know. On restarts and all that, you’ve got a responsibility to take care of everybody out there, even when you’re three-wide. I’m disappointed in that.”

Earnhardt finished 39th.

HOW LOGANO WON: Logano’s Ford was the class of the field. He led five times for 138 laps, including regaining the lead on Lap 153 and staying there for good.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD DAY: Elliott had an excellent run and nearly captured his first career Cup win. The rookie carried the torch for Hendrick Motorsports, as Kasey Kahne (13th), Jimmie Johnson (17th) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (39th) struggled. … Tony Stewart (seventh) posted a good finish that provides hope potentially being able to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Kyle Busch (engine, 40th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (crash, 39th), A.J. Allmendinger (crash, 38th), Jeffrey Earnhardt (car fire, 37th), Brian Scott (crash, 36th), Regan Smith (crash, 35th), Denny Hamlin (crash, 33rd) Casey Mears (crash, 32nd) all were involved in incidents.

NOTABLE: Team Penske’s next victory in Sprint Cup will be its 100th. … Logano is the 10th driver to win a Sprint Cup race in 2016. He’s also the seventh different winner in the past seven races. … It was Logano’s third career win from the pole, and the second time at MIS.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We’ve been knocking on the door for a win all season. It’s nice to get that win and lock ourselves into the Chase. To see the execution that this team had throughout the day, having a perfect weekend like this, starting on the front row with the pole, being able to have good pit stops and stay up in the top 2 the whole race is a lot to say about this team.” – Race winner Joey Logano.

WHAT’S NEXT: The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is off next weekend. The next Sprint Cup race is the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on June 26 at Sonoma Raceway.

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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.