Joey Logano Books His Ticket to NASCAR’s Championship Four

With his win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Ford Mustang Driver Joey Logano becomes the first driver to secure a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Phoenix

0
961
Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, NV — October 16, 2022

The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs are down to the Round of Eight. Today at Las Vegas, a driver may take the first step to lock up a spot in the Championship Four at Phoenix. Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin are the only two playoff drivers with wins at the Sin City track.

Las Vegas Active Race Winners Wins Seasons
Brad Keselowski 3 2018, ’16, ’14
Joey Logano 2 2020, ’19
Kevin Harvick 2 2018, ’15
Martin Truex Jr 2 2019, ’17
Alex Bowman 1 2022
Denny Hamlin 1 2021
Kyle Larson 1 2021
Kyle Busch 1 2009

NASCAR News

Two significant NASCAR news stories broke this week leading up to the South Point 400. Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin, owners of 23XI Racing, reached an agreement with Richard Childress Racing to buy out the contract of Tyler Reddick so that he can join their team a year earlier than planned.

That move was significant because Kurt Busch announced he was retiring from full-time Cup Series racing. Reddick will pilot the #45 car Busch occupied until his injury at Pocono in July. Bubba Wallace will return to the #23 car in 2023. Giving 23XI a solid lineup to compete with as a two-car team.

Today’s Race

Reddick sits on the pole for today’s Vegas race. The Team Penske Ford Mustang of Austin Cindric joins him on the front row. Denny Hamlin is the defending champion of the race. Alex Bowman won the spring race here, he remains sidelined, still suffering from concussion symptoms.

Stages are 80/85/102 laps around the 1.5-mile speedway.

Stage One

After racing door-to-door for four laps, Tyler Reddick(8) was able to clear Austin Cindric(2) and establish the early lead. Denny Hamlin(11) started 31st and began making his way through the field early in Stage One.

Bubba Wallace(23) served notice that he would be a contender when he took the lead and raced to the green and white checkered flag. Kyle Busch(18) spun off turn four ending the Stage under caution and assuring Wallace the win.

 

Stage One Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 45 Bubba Wallace 10
2 22 Joey Logano* (P) 9
3 99 Daniel Suarez 8
4 20 Christopher Bell (P) 7
5 12 Ryan Blaney* (P) 6
6 2 Austin Cindric* 5
7 5 Kyle Larson 4
8 19 Martin Truex Jr. 3
9 8 Tyler Reddick 2
10 24 William Byron (P) 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Stage Two

It did not take long for things to heat up in Stage Two. Kyle Larson(5) tried to pass Wallace on the inside, got loose, and slid up the track forcing the #45 car into the wall. Wallace immediately dove to the bottom of the track hitting Larson in the right rear quarter panel and spinning the defending NASCAR Cup Champion up the track and into playoff driver Christopher Bell’s(20) car.

All three race cars ended up in the garage, dealing Bell’s championship hopes a severe blow. Wallace said he lost steering after hitting the wall and could not control his race car. It appeared to be a case of simple retaliation. Expect NASCAR to weigh in on the subject later in the week when penalties are announced.

After the Wallace and Larson incident, Daniel Suarez(99) and Hamlin swapped the lead until Ross Chastain(1) moved to the front and hung onto the top spot during the first portion of Stage Two. Ryan Blaney(12) closed on Chastain. After racing side-by-side for a few laps, Blaney was able to make the pass. He held onto the position driving to the green and white checkered flag at the end of Stage Two. Grabbing the 10 bonus points and a valuable playoff point for the stage win. Blaney’s teammate at Team Penske, Joey Logano(22), made it a one-two Ford Finish.

Stage Two Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 12 Ryan Blaney* (P) 10
2 22 Joey Logano* (P) 9
3 99 Daniel Suarez 8
4 1 Ross Chastain (P) 7
5 11 Denny Hamlin (P) 6
6 24 William Byron (P) 5
7 4 Kevin Harvick* 4
8 19 Martin Truex Jr. 3
9 2 Austin Cindric* 2
10 18 Kyle Busch 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

The Final Stage

Logano won the race off pit road, followed by Hamlin, Blaney, Chastain, and Aric Almirola(10)

Four wide into Turn One on the restart, it was Logano who prevailed over Chastain. Early season antagonists Hamlin and Chastain battled for third.

Early in the Final Stage Logano and Blaney pulled away from the pack with just a quarter of a second separating the pair. Chastain moved into third but could not cut the 2.5-second interval he trailed behind the leader. A pit stop for fuel and tires will be required to complete the 102 laps of Stage Three.

JJ Yeley(15) spun off turn four on lap 193, just outside the safe fuel window. Still, the lead lap cars all pitted. Chastain exited the pit road with the lead. Followed by Blaney, William Byron(24), Kevin Harvick(4), and Hamlin. Logano, who stayed to make sure his car was completely full of Sunoco Racing Fuel, came out in the 10th position.

Chastain easily pulled away from the field on the restart. Blaney and Byron battled for the second spot. With Byron on the bottom of the track, he got loose and slid up into Blaney. Both drivers had to check up, allowing Aric Almirola to move into the second spot.

Blaney recovered quickly to regain the third spot, followed by Kyle Busch(18), Logano, and Michigan’s Erik Jones(43) in sixth. With 44 laps to go, Blaney regained the second position.

Most teams are reporting they are a few laps short on fuel. If that is true or a strategy ploy remains to be seen.

With 40 laps to go, Blaney wiggled and hit the outside wall. He slid down the track and made contact with the inside barrier. The caution will eliminate the fuel concerns and likely scramble the field again.

After pit stops, Kyle Busch was circling the track under caution and had the left front wheel come off his car. The mistake caused Busch to return to pit road and will certainly mean severe penalties for his team. Logano’s team had trouble removing a wheel from his car and lost six positions on their stop.

Back to green, Justin Haley(31) led after a two-tire change pit stop. Chase Briscoe(14) held second, followed by Chastain, Suarez, and Byron.

The caution came out again when Tyler Reddick(8) pulled up in front of Suarez as they battled for position. The disturbed air flow caused Suarez to spin down the front stretch and onto the pit road.

The Finish

Back to green with 22 laps to go, three playoff drivers sat in the top six. Briscoe, Chastain, and Byron. Briscoe had just taken the top spot when Landon Cassill(77) spun as the leaders were crossing the start/finish line.

On the next restart is was Briscoe, Haley, Chastain, Martin Truex Jr.(19), and AJ Allmendinger(16) racing to the green flag with 16 laps to go. By the time the pack returned to the flag stand, Chastain was the leader.

With 10 laps to go, Logano passed Briscoe and trailed Chastain by one second. Logano was cutting into the lead two seconds per lap. With six laps to go, Logano was on Chastain’s bumper.

Logano made a clean pass with three laps to go and quickly moved away from Chastain before the number one car could put a bumper on him. Logano becomes the first driver to advance into the Championship Four at Phoenix. With two more races, Miami and Martinsville will determine the other three drivers to vie for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship.

Logano was hyped after the victory. “We’re racing for a championship! Let’s go! Man, what a great car. Penske cars were all fast. All of them were really fast today. Oh, man, all you want to do is get to the Championship 4 when the season starts and race for a championship, and we’ve got the team to do it.”

“I don’t see why we can’t win at this point. Things are looking really good for us, awesome Pennzoil Mustang, this bad boy, and man, just a lot of adversity fought through the last 50 laps or so. I thought we were going to win and then we kind of fell out and then had the tires, and racing Ross was fun. He was doing a good job air-blocking me, and just trying to be patient, and eventually, I was like, I’ve got to go here. Just great to win out here in Vegas again, and it means so much getting to the championship.”

Playoff Standings

Rank Driver Points Status
1 J. Logano* 4084 In Win
2 R. Chastain 4063 +18
3 C. Elliott 4062 +17
4 D. Hamlin 4051 +6
NASCAR Cup Series Championship Cut Line
5 W. Byron 4045 -6
6 C. Briscoe* 4042 -9
7 R. Blaney* 4040 -11
8 C. Bell 4028 -23

*Ford Mustang Drivers

No one was officially eliminated after today’s race. However, Christopher Bell may find himself in the same position he was in last week at the Roval, needing a win to advance.

Results of the South Point 400 From Las Vegas Motor Speedway

POS CAR DRIVER LAPS
1 22 Joey Logano 267
2 1 Ross Chastain 267
3 18 Kyle Busch 267
4 14 Chase Briscoe 267
5 11 Denny Hamlin 267
6 8 Tyler Reddick 267
7 19 Martin Truex Jr. 267
8 43 Erik Jones 267
9 16 AJ Allmendinger 267
10 3 Austin Dillon 267
11 48 Noah Gragson 267
12 4 Kevin Harvick 267
13 24 William Byron 267
14 31 Justin Haley 267
15 17 Chris Buescher 267
16 99 Daniel Suarez 267
17 6 Brad Keselowski 267
18 10 Aric Almirola 267
19 34 Michael McDowell 267
20 41 Cole Custer 267
21 9 Chase Elliott 267
22 23 Ty Gibbs 267
23 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 267
24 7 Corey LaJoie 267
25 38 Todd Gilliland 267
26 21 Harrison Burton 266
27 51 Cody Ware 264
28 12 Ryan Blaney 260
29 2 Austin Cindric 259
30 78 B.J. McLeod 256
31 15 J.J. Yeley 253
32 77 Landon Cassill 246
33 42 Ty Dillon 237
34 20 Christopher Bell 94
35 5 Kyle Larson 94
36 45 Bubba Wallace 94