Joey Logano Sweeps Contender Round Following Epic Finish At Talladega Superspeedwayby Hunter Thomas October 25, 2015 0 comments
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images
TALLADEGA, Ala. – In an epic, controversial green-white-checkered finish on Sunday, Joey Logano was declared the winner of the CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth failed to advance to the Eliminator Round.
After winning at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and then this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, Joey Logano became the first driver in history to sweep one of the four rounds of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Sunday’s win marked Logano’s sixth victory and 26th top-10 finish of the 2015 season. The 25-year old and his Team Penske No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford team are certainly on and roll, and it doesn’t appear they’ll be losing the momentum any time soon.
“We got momentum,” Logano said. “That’s for sure. This team has been firing on all eight (cylinders) right now. It’s amazing all these different types of racetracks we’ve been able to win at this season, how hard everyone keeps fighting.
“We want the big trophy at the end of the year. We want to win every trophy in between, but we want the big one at the end of the season.”
Although Logano and his team have made their performances look easy, the trifecta didn’t come easy. On Sunday with five laps to go, Jamie McMurray went up in smoke, bringing out only the second caution of the afternoon and setting the field up for a green-white-checkered finish. Earlier in the week, NASCAR announced that there would only be one attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, so it was all on the line as Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought the field down to the green flag with just three laps remaining. Just as the field received the green flag, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson spun through the frontstretch grass. The yellow flag was thrown prior to the leaders crossing the start-finish line, so NASCAR ruled that the effort wasn’t an official attempt.
The field lined up again and took the green flag, but this time, Kevin Harvick who was having mechanical issues clipped Trevor Bayne, causing a massive pile up and ending the race. Following a review of the final yards, it was announced that Joey Logano was ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the time of the yellow flag, therefore, he was declared the winner.
“I know we had a good start,” Logano said. “Being that control car was a big deal. Having the 24 (Jeff Gordon) to push me getting up to second, third gear gave us enough of a lead that as he (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) started pulling us back on the inside, he definitely had momentum as he was starting to catch us, probably was going to be in the lead at some point. I don’t know if he would have cleared us, but we would have been side‑by‑side off of two most likely.”
As for Dale Earnhardt Jr. who led 61 laps and rebounded from a pit road penalty, a second place finish wasn’t enough for him to advance to the Eliminator Round. The No.88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet team were the favorites heading into the weekend, but they were on the outside looking in, 31 points back and realistically needing a win to advance.
Following the controversial finish, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said, “I feel like no matter the rules, when the race is over, I can live with the result as long as everyone else is going by the same rules.
“So I felt like, per the rule book, it sorted out and I finished second. I’m okay with that. We could argue they could have waited another hundred foot to throw the caution, but they didn’t have to. They threw it when they needed to. I’m fine with that.
“I know those guys up in the booth, and I really believe in the choices they make and decisions they make for the sport, whether it’s in the middle of a race or a new rule in the middle of the week, whatever it is.”
Finishing third on Sunday was Jeff Gordon, who was making his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series appearance at Talladega Superspeedway. Gordon entered the weekend sixth in the standings, only seven points to the good for the Eliminator Round. With the solid top-three finish, he jumped up to third in the point standings.
“Oh my gosh,” Gordon said. “I just cannot believe… this season has been a crazy season for us. But since the Chase started the attitude of this team, the momentum and the execution the things that we weren’t doing earlier in the year we are doing them all right now at the right time. I never thought in a million years I would be looking forward to coming to Talladega to advance through, but boy I did today.”
Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards will also advance after finishing fourth and fifth respectively. Rounding out the top-10 was Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kurt Busch.
The first driver missing out on the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup points wise is Richard Childress Racing’s Ryan Newman. He finished 12th on Sunday and ended up only three points behind Kyle Busch who earned the final transfer spot. Newman finished runner-up in the standings last season, but this year, he’ll only have the opportunity to finish as high as ninth, where he currently sits.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. may have been okay with the ending results, but Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin weren’t. They placed the blame of the massive crash on Kevin Harvick. Hamlin went to Twitter to vent his displeasure, while Kenseth talked with the media.
“He pulled out of the way the first time because he knew he was blowing up and this time he said he was going to hold his lane, so we went up to go around him and then he clipped the 6 (Trevor Bayne),” Kenseth said. “He knew if he put him in a slow spin the race was over and he’d make it, so, like I said, it feels we lost control here the last two weeks. I don’t think that’s what racing is about.”
After the race, 15th place finisher Kevin Harvick said, “It wasn’t running really well on the restarts. Then at the end I was trying to get out of the way. I don’t know if I clipped the 6 or if he came across as I was coming up. It was one of those days where everything went well until the very end until the bottom fell out on those lap couple of restarts when it cooled off. It has a broken exhaust pipe or something.”
Matt Kenseth finished 26th, and Denny Hamlin finished 37th after not only crashing but also dealing with a bizarre malfunction with the roof hatch. Hamlin had to visit pit road under green flag conditions on several occasions to try and correct the issues.
“I don’t know what broke or whatever,” Hamlin said. “It just peeled up. I guess what’s frustrating is they didn’t tell us we had to, but we came in and fixed it, we didn’t get it fixed, we tried to come in again and get it fixed, didn’t fix it and went a bunch of laps down. It’s tough, we’ll just move on to next year.”
Heading into Martinsville Speedway, the eight drivers that are continuing on in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and competing in the Eliminator Round, include Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
Coverage for the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 will broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 1:15 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 1.
CampingWorld.com 500 Results:
1.) #22 Joey Logano
2.) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3.) #24 Jeff Gordon
4.) #2 Brad Keselowski
5.) #19 Carl Edwards
6.) #27 Paul Menard
7.) #78 Martin Truex Jr.
8.) #15 Clint Bowyer
9.) #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
10.) #41 Kurt Busch
11.) #18 Kyle Busch
12.) #31 Ryan Newman
13.) #98 Michael Waltrip
14.) #3 Austin Dillon
15.) #4 Kevin Harvick
16.) #43 Aric Almirola
17.) #9 Sam Hornish Jr.
18.) #48 Jimmie Johnson
19.) #5 Kasey Kahne
20.) #16 Greg Biffle
21.) #6 Trevor Bayne
22.) #35 Cole Whitt
23.) #32 Bobby Labonte
24.) #42 Kyle Larson
25.) #14 Tony Stewart
26.) #20 Matt Kenseth
27.) #10 Danica Patrick
28.) #95 Michael McDowell
29.) #34 Josh Wise
30.) #55 David Ragan
31.) #13 Casey Mears
32.) #38 David Gilliland
33.) #7 Alex Bowman
34.) #40 Landon Cassill
35.) #33 Travis Kvapil
36.) #47 AJ Allmendinger
37.) #11 Denny Hamlin
38.) #26 JJ Yeley
39.) #1 Jamie McMurray
40.) #83 Matt DiBenedetto
41.) #62 Timmy Hill
42.) #51 Justin Allgaier
43.) #21 Ryan Blaney