Joey Logano dominated Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, winning the Bank of America 500 and clinching a spot in the third round of NASCAR’s Chase.
Logano’s victory, coming in the first race of the playoffs’ second round, was his first in 14 career races at Charlotte.
“This helps us sleep the next couple of weeks,” said Logano.
Kevin Harvick finished second – his 11th runner-up finish of the season. Martin Truex Jr. was third and Denny Hamlin. Austin Dillon was the only non-Chase driver in the top 10, finishing seventh.
The race — postponed by rain from Saturday night —was tough on three Chase drivers. Kyle Busch, after a wreck with Kyle Larson entering pit road, was 20th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 28th and pole-winner Matt Kenseth 42nd.
The top eight from the second round advance to the third round. The second race of the Chase’s second round is next Sunday at Kansas Speedway.
Logano took the lead on Lap 77 from Kenseth and showed his strength the rest of the way. He would lead a total of 227 of 334 laps.
How the NASCAR Chase drivers fared:
1. Joey Logano (3,048 points): Race winner has few worries over the next few weeks with a berth in third round of Chase assured.
2. Kevin Harvick (6 behind): Quietly finished second for the 11th time this season. Wasn’t as dominant as he’s been recently, but stayed out of trouble, something he had didn’t do during first round.
3. Martin Truex Jr. (7 behind): Was fortunate when gas can that had been dropped during pit stop late in the race didn’t cross line into next stall. That would have been a penalty. As it was Truex finished third and is in solid position heading to Kansas.
4. Denny Hamlin (8 behind): Started fifth and finished fourth. He’s had top five-caliber car for most of the Chase.
5. Kurt Busch (9 behind): Not hearing much about Busch and his No. 41 Chevy, but he’s been consistent during the playoffs. Fifth-place Sunday confirms that.
6. Carl Edwards (9 behind): Made contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr. early in the race (sending Earnhardt into the wall and starting problems that lasted for much of the race), but had an otherwise quiet day and finished sixth.
7. Jeff Gordon (11 behind): His No. 24 Chevy was giving him problems early, but he stuck it out and finished eighth.
8. Brad Keselowski (13 behind): Reported what he feared was a loose wheel with nine laps left, but was able to finish the race and finish ninth.
9. Ryan Newman (19 behind): Nothing went terribly wrong for Newman, other than making contact briefly with Kenseth, but he finished 15th and finds himself in the bottom four.
10. Kyle Busch (23 behind): Wreck entering pit road with Kyle Larson knocked him out of contention, eventually finishing 20th.
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (32 behind): Had a rough time of it all day, hitting the wall on Lap 69, then again at least once more later in the race and eventually finishing four laps down and in 28th place.
12. Matt Kenseth (45 behind): Troubles for pole-sitter began when he hit the wall after tangling with Ryan Newman on Lap 175, had a pit-road penalty a while later and eventually went to the garage on Lap 240 after banging wall again when right front tire went down. Finished 42nd.
▪ Drivers like Earnhardt and Kyle Busch, who were able to briefly breath easier after working so hard to advance into the second round last week at Dover, find themselves back in similar predicaments heading to Kansas, the second race of the second round. At least one of them is going have to rely on a victory or strong finish in two weeks at Talladega.
▪ It seems odd not to see Jimmie Johnson among those in the Chase. Johnson, eliminated from the Chase last week in Dover when a part broke in his No. 48 Chevy, was having a typically strong run at Charlotte until something again went wrong -- this time in his engine late in the race. His crew pushed the No. 48 Chevy to the garage, where its day ended in 39th place.
▪ Lots of risks were taken by drivers all day, but none greater than those taken by daredevil Erendira Wallenda before the race. Wallenda was suspended approximately 150 feet above the infield (without a net) on an aerial ring hanging by a cable under a helicopter. At one point, Wallenda was hanging upside down, using only her toes.
They said it
“We know we can beat them.” – Logano, on the Kevin Harvick’s team, which consistently had the fastest car of the Chase’s first round.
“Talladega is still there. Third is great and all, but it’s no guarantee.” – Truex.
“These are never the kind of days you want to have, for sure.” -- Kenseth.
Hollywood Casino 400
Where: Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kan.
When: 2:15 p.m. Sunday.
TV: NBC Sports Network.