In what turned out to be perhaps one of the most exciting Chase races of the 2016 playoffs, Joey Logano can now check his heart rate, as his spot in the Final 4 is confirmed.
Logano’s win earned him the third spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend behind Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards, who each won earlier in the Round of 8. Kyle Busch, who finished second today at Phoenix International Raceway, takes the final spot in the Chase on points.
The win didn’t come easy for Logano as he had to survive NASCAR Overtime after his points rival, Matt Kenseth, crashed late in the race on a restart with two laps to go. When Alex Bowman, the dominant driver on the day, spun the tires while restarting third, Kyle Busch made a daring move to try to pass the No. 88. Bowman reacted and blocked the No. 18’s momentum, but was hit by Busch going into Turn 1 while already carrying a lot of momentum, and turned Kenseth when he entered the corner unusually low. Kenseth crashed into the outside wall, giving the lead to Logano who never looked back.
“Man, this feels so good,” Logano said in victory lane. “I’ve never felt this good about a win before. So much on the line, and everyone brings their A-game when it comes to winning championships, and this team did it.”
While Logano earned his third win of the year, the No. 18 of Busch finished second, which was just enough to clinch a spot in the Final 4. It was intense times for the Nos. 22 and 18, who found themselves racing for a tiebreaker spot at the end of the race before the final two cautions flew.
Kyle Larson came back from two spins early in the race to finish third with Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch finishing fourth and fifth. Unfortunately for the Stewart-Haas Racing duo, top-five finishing spots weren’t good enough to earn them a spot in the Championship 4.
Bowman led an impressive 194 laps after starting on pole, and finished a career-best sixth. Denny Hamlin finished seventh followed by Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Paul Menard.
Carl Edwards, who was already locked into the Championship 4 by virtue of a win at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend, finished 19th, while his teammate Kenseth finished a disappointing 21st and will not advance.
Jimmie Johnson had a strong car early in the race, and even led a few laps, but was bit by a pit road penalty midway through the race for passing the pace car under caution while entering pit road. The same penalty bit Martin Truex, Jr. earlier in the race, and it resulted in a one-lap penalty for both. Both drivers would be hit with worse ramifications later in the race as they were both subject to a late-race wreck. Johnson wound up 38th, while Truex finished last.
As Johnson, Edwards, Logano and Busch head into Homestead next week, Edwards and Logano are trying to win a championship for the first time, while the other two will try to add another trophy to their already impressive resumés.