Joey Logano wins at Phoenix, advances to Championship 4 along with Kyle Busch

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Joey Logano and Kyle Busch were both winners in Sunday’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Logano won his 17th career Sprint Cup race while Busch finished second, advancing both drivers into the Ford EcoBoost 400 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Logano will be seeking his first Sprint Cup championship, while Busch will be going for his second consecutive title.

Also in the Championship 4 will be Jimmie Johnson, who is seeking his seventh Sprint Cup crown — which would tie him with NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt — as well Carl Edwards. Edwards, like Logano, will be seeking his first championship.

“I’ve never felt this good about a win before,” Logano said of his first career Sprint Cup win at Phoenix. “There was so much on the line and everyone brings their A-game when it comes to winning championships and this team did it. Man, this feels so good.

“I had a good restart there at the end and holding off Kyle (Busch) to try to get this thing into Miami. We’re racing for a championship now. We did exactly what we had to do. We’ve got to go to Homestead and do the same thing. I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”

Kyle Larson finished third followed by Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch.

MORE: Statistics and results from Phoenix

MORE: Sprint Cup point standings after Phoenix

Just when it appeared that Matt Kenseth would win the race on Lap 318, he made contact with Alex Bowman, causing Kenseth to spin into the wall and see his championship hope come to an abrupt end.

Bowman had been tapped from behind by Kyle Busch, which caused Bowman’s car to wiggle, but it appeared Kenseth came down too soon in front of Bowman and the duo made contact.

Logano was scored as the leader at the previous scoring loop when the caution came out and would hold on during the ensuing restart.

Harvick, who won the first Sprint Cup championship under the new elimination format in 2014 and also reached the final round last season, fell short of his third consecutive appearance in the final round.

“That’s all you can ask, to go down swinging and that’s what we did,” Harvick told NBCSN.

Also falling short of reaching the championship round were Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch. As a result, only two of the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers will be in the final round, while Stewart-Haas Racing will have no representatives.

Sunday’s race was scheduled for 312 laps, but due to a caution on Lap 311 when Michael McDowell crashed, as well as Kenseth’s wreck on Lap 318, the event went an extra 12 laps of overtime for a total of 324 laps.

Substituting for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr., pole-sitter Alex Bowman led the first 92 laps. That was quite a contrast as Bowman had led a total of just nine laps overall in his first 79 Sprint Cup career starts. Bowman eventually led a race-high 194 laps in the race.

After being at the front of the field from the green flag, Bowman finally yielded the lead on Lap 93 to Logano. Johnson then took the lead on Lap 120, Bowman regained it for one lap on Lap 133, and then Logano went back ahead when he beat all other cars off pit road during caution on Lap 134.

HOW LOGANO WON: When Matt Kenseth spun on Lap 318, Logano was declared the leader. Logano then held on through the ensuing restart on Lap 323 all the way to the checkered flag to reach the Championship 4 round for the second time in three years.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE? Runner-up Kyle Busch did what he needed to do to hold off Kevin Harvick and advance to defend last year’s championship. Also, kudos to Alex Bowman for his effort and Kyle Larson for their strong runs.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE? Kenseth saw his championship bid go up in smoke with his wreck on Lap 316. He finished 20th … Austin Dillon finished 39th, while Martin Truex Jr. finished last.

NOTABLE: Greg Biffle finished 16th in his 500th consecutive Sprint Cup race … Canadian driver D.J. Kennington finished 35th in his first career Sprint Cup race … Tony Stewart finished 15th in the second-to-last race of his Sprint Cup career.

QUOTE OF THE DAY No. 1: “I’m speechless right now.  I feel like I just won the Daytona 500 again. What a special day.” — Race winner Joey Logano.

QUOTE OF THE DAY No. 2: “We have to put our arms around Matt and let him know how much we care for him.” – Team owner Joe Gibbs on Matt Kenseth’s late wreck that eliminated him from the last round of the Chase.

WHAT’S NEXT: The season championship will be decided Sunday, Nov. 20, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Green flag is slated to drop shortly after 2:30 pm ET.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Driver-to-Driver with Jimmie Johnson: ‘I’ve got a lot to prove still’

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Jimmie Johnson is in his 17th year of full-time Cup racing and is in the midst the longest winless streak of his career at 42 races.

But the seven-time champion’s competitive drive is as strong as ever.

Johnson sat down with NBC Sports’ Dale Jarrett to discuss his career at this point in the latest edition of Driver-to-Driver.

“I can honestly say I spend more time now than I did my rookie year focusing on my job,” Johnson said. “I think that the support I have from my wife (Chandra), my kids are 7 and 4, to have them watch me be passionate about something has another meaning I didn’t anticipate coming. I’m lovin’ what I’m doing. I wish the results were a little better than what we have right now, but the process of what I’m going through is really fun.”

Hendrick Motorsports as a whole is in a slump. The team is in the middle of the second longest winless streak in its history at 35 races.

Johnson admits it’s hard to know when the right time will be for him to retire.

“The thing I can pull out of it is, don’t pick a number, make sure that fire’s gone out and that fire hasn’t gone out,” Johnson said. “The other thing that’s weighing on me, I don’t want to go out not at my fullest potential and not on my terms. The last thought that’s going to run through my mind is to walk away or, ‘Oh, it’s not going right, time to stop.’ Uh uh. I know I still got it. I’m going to go down swinging. I’ve got a lot to prove still.”

Watch the above video for more.

 

New Hampshire Cup race in rain delay

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The Foxwoods Resort & Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is in a rain delay.

The race was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET. The start time had been moved up from 2 p.m. ET due to the threat of weather.

Kurt Busch is on the pole and Martin Truex Jr. will start second.

Check back for more.

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at New Hampshire

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Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Nate Ryan

Denny Hamlin. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver rediscovers his magic here and locks into the playoffs.

Dustin Long

Martin Truex Jr. wins back-to-back races for the first time in his career.

Daniel McFadin

Kevin Harvick earns a career-best sixth win of the season.

Dan Beaver

Martin Truex Jr. is getting into the same groove he had last year. This week he catches Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. Next week, he starts to pull away,

Today’s Cup race at New Hampshire: Start time, lineup and more

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The Cup Series holds its only race of the year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway today with the Foxwoods Resort & Casino 301.

Kurt Busch starts on the pole and Martin Truex Jr. starts second.

Here’s all the info you need for today’s race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given by Jean Swift, treasurer of Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Counsel, at 12:51 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 1 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 301 laps (318.46 miles) around the 1.058-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 75. Stage 2 ends on Lap 150.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 35

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 7:30 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 11 a.m. Driver introductions are at 12:05 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Vanessa Salvucci will perform the anthem at 12:45 p.m. The Canadian National Anthem will be performed by Kirk Young at 12:42 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 1 p.m. Coverage begins at noon with Countdown to Green on NBCSN. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at noon p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for a high of 70 degrees and a 78 percent chance of rain and storms at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Denny Hamlin won this race last year over Kyle Larson. Kyle Busch won the playoff race over Larson.

TO THE REAR: Landon Cassill (backup) and Michael McDowell (backup).

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the complete starting lineup.