By AMANDA VINCENT
Joey Logano dominated the rain-delayed Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon, leading 227 laps of the 334 that made up the race en route to his win of the first race in the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“We had a great car,” Logano said. “Todd Gordon (crew chief) and this Shell/Pennzoil team, all of Team Penske, you always want to win it. Charlotte is everybody’s home turf and you want to make it happen here. What a great car. We led a ton of laps and I just have to thank Ford and Shell and AutoTrader, SKF, Coca-Cola — everyone that supports what we’re doing.”
Kevin Harvick finished second, Martin Truex Jr. was third, Denny Hamlin fourth, and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five.
Logano took the lead by staying out during a yellow flag on lap 75 and ran up front for most of the remaining distance, giving up the lead only during cycles of green-flag pit stops. Harvick took second on a restart following a lap 194 yellow flag and ran second to Logano the rest of the way.
“We could hang with him (Logano), but I would just lose him every once in awhile in traffic,” Harvick said. “It was just extremely hard to pass. But all in all, we weren’t very good all weekend, and the guys just did a great job on pit road and made our car better throughout the day and were able to make our Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet better as we went on, so I’m just really proud of that. And if those are the off days, we’ll be just fine.”
Kenseth started on the pole and led all but four laps before pitting and handing the lead over to Logano during the lap 75 caution. Kenseth had trouble throughout the remainder of the race though. After seven drivers stayed out and he had a slow pit stop because his jackman slipped, Kenseth restarted the race 13th.
Kenseth was able to get back up to ninth before contact with Ryan Newman. He also was the recipient of two pit road penalties before hitting the wall because of a right-front tire issue on lap 240.
“Everything just kind of snowballed, you know,” Kenseth said. “We were real fast out front. We were kind of tight in traffic and got behind pitting, and then I missed the pit stall tryng to come around the 21 (Ryan Blaney) and had to back up in the pit, and that put us back there, so just kind of snowballed. But with Ryan (Newman), I honestly don’t know. I’ve got to look at it. He went up like I thought he was broke, so I went up through the middle, and I thought I left him plenty of room and then next thing I know, I was pointed at the fence.”
Kenseth wasn’t the only Chase driver to struggle, though. Kenseth’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch and Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. also encountered problems.
Busch led the first four laps of the race and remained in the top-five throughout the first half before crashing with Kyle Larson at the entrance of pit road while the race was already under caution on lap 194. Earnhardt, meanwhile, hit the wall because of a tire issue to bring out the caution that saw Logano take his first lead of the race.
“I lost count of how many times we it it (the wall) today,” Earnhardt said. “I don’t know. We had a pretty decent car.”
Earnhardt wasn’t the first nor the last Hendrick Motorsports driver to have problems, either. Gordon was the only driver around and on the lead lap at the end, posting and eighth-place finish.
Hendrick driver Kasey Kahne had two tire issues that resulted in contact with the wall early in the race. The second one was significant enough to bring out a caution on lap 61.
Teammate Jimmie Johnson retired from the race because of an engine issue with just under 80 laps to go after running inside the top-five through musch of the race to that point.
Two non-Chase drivers finished inside the top-10 — Austin Dillon in seventh and Aric Almirola in 10th. Other top-10 finishers included Carl Edwards in sixth and Brad Keselowski in ninth.
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