By AMANDA VINCENT
In a controversial move while racing Matt Kenseth in the closing laps of the Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., Joey Logano took the lead with five laps to go in the race’s scheduled 267-lap distance and mainted the lead on a green-white-checker restart to claim his second-consecutive win and remain as the only race-winning driver in the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup with only one race remaining in the round — Oct’ 25′s wild card race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
“The fact that we’re the only team that can relax right now is gonna pay big dividends when we get to Martinsville (Speedway, the first race of the third round),” Logano said. “Everyone is a little bit nervous. Our goal is still to win the race. Even though we’re moved on to the next round, our goal is still to win that race and try to get some guys nervous for next week. That’s kind of the strategy of this Chase, and to be able to do that today, like I said, I couldn’t be more proud. These guys work so hard and Todd Gordon (crew chief), he’s a freaking genius, so it’s fun to drive his car.”
After contact from Logano while leading, Kenseth spun, bringing out the seventh and final yellow flag of the race. After leading a race-high 153 laps, he wound up with a 14th place finish and in the basement of the Chase standings, 35 points behind Martin Truex Jr., the driver in the provisional final advancing spot, eighth.
“It was really cut and dry; he picked my rear tires off the ground and wrecked me, so there’s no debate about that one,” Kenseth said. “We had a great Dollar General Camry today. He was a little bit tighter on that short run than I was, and I couldn’t get away from him. All day we had him pretty good. I still thought I was going to be able to stay in front of him and saw those lapped cars coming and tried getting a couple runs off the top, there, and I was plenty clear. Got up in front of him, and he just decided to take us out.”
Denny Hamlin lined up next to Logano on the front row for the final restart of the race and maintained that position for runner-up honors.
One other Chase driver, Kyle Busch, finished fifth after hitting the wall and prognosticating an engine issue late in the race.
“We just kept fighting, kept trying to persevere through everything that was thrown at us,” Busch said. “The guys did a great job today. I was trying to run the top like those guys and make speed up there like they were, and I slipped in the oil that was off turn two. I just didn’t get enough off the corner. I can’t say enough about everyone; this M&Ms Camry was awesome today. Adam Stevens (crew chief) and the guys did a really good job repairing the right side and gave us really good adjustments all day. About got us behind there, but late in the going, I must have had an exhaust issue or something and just started laying down the power. I was hoping it would go green and we’d salvage a seventh, but with the restarts there, we were able to get a fifth out of the thing.”
Non-Chase drivers, Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne, finished third and fourth. A total of three non-Chasers finished in the top-10, with Ryan Blaney taking seventh.
Other top-10 drivers included Kurt Busch in sixth, Carl Edwards eighth, Brad Keselowski ninth, and Jeff Gordon rounding out the top-10.
Early laps were led by pole sitter Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick before Logano led for the first time on lap 50. Kenseth took the lead for the first time on lap 72 after a caution during which he took four tires and restarted fifth.
Kenseth led most of the remaining laps before Logano took the lead from him on a restart on lap 179. On lap 196, Kenseth retook the lead.
Aside from Kenseth, four other Chase drivers finished outside the top-10. Ryan Newman finished 11th. Martin Truex wound up 15th after a late-race pit road penalty for an uncontrolled tire. Harvick was penalized during the same caution for taking equipment out of his pit stall. He also had to run the remaining distance with a broken shifter lever and wound up 16th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the worst finishing Chase drivers, winding up outside the top-20 in 21st.
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