Logano clinches Championship 4 spot with late Cup victory at Las Vegas

Joey Logano punched his ticket to the Championship 4 round at Phoenix Raceway after muscling his way to a late thrilling victory in the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, October 16.

The 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion from Middletown, Connecticut, led two times for 32 of 267-scheduled laps overall. Prior to his victory, Logano pitted for fresh tires during a late caution period and prior to a restart with 22 laps remaining. Following another restart with 16 laps remaining, he used the tires to methodically work his way back to the front before executing a bold pass for the lead on Playoff rival Ross Chastain with three laps remaining.

From there, Logano made the remaining three laps work to his advantage as he claimed both his third Cup Series victory of the 2022 season and one of four spots to the championship finale.

By winning the first of three events in the Round of 8 and automatically earning a transfer spot to the finale, Logano and his No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang team will contend for a second series championship in November.

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Saturday, Tyler Reddick captured his third pole position of the season after posting a pole-winning lap at 184.603 mph in 29.252 seconds. Joining him on the front row was rookie Austin Cindric, who posted the second-fastest qualifying lap at 184.288 mph in 29.302 seconds.

When the green flag waved and the race started, Reddick and Cindric dueled early for the lead as the field began to fan out entering the first two turns. Following an early duel for the lead, Reddick led the first lap by a hair over Cindric while Playoff competitors Ryan Blaney and William Byron battled for third place. Behind, Playoff competitor Joey Logano battled and overtook Daniel Suarez for sixth place as the field continued to jostle for early spots.

Through the first five scheduled laps, Reddick, who continued to battle dead even with Cindric until he prevailed by the third lap, was leading by three-tenths of a second over Cindric followed by Byron, Blaney and Logano while Suarez, Christopher Bell, Bubba Wallace, rookie Harrison Burton and Austin Dillon were in the top 10. Meanwhile, Kyle Larson was in 11th followed by Kevin Harvick, Ross Chastain, Chris Buescher and Kyle Busch while Michael McDowell, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, AJ Allmendinger and Noah Gragson occupied the top 20.

By Lap 10, Reddick continued to lead by seven-tenths of a second over Cindric while Byron was scored as the highest-running Playoff competitor on the track in third place in front of Blaney and Logano. In addition, four of the remaining eight Playoff competitors were running in the top 10 on the track as Bell remained in seventh while Elliott, who started 20th, was up in 15th in front of Chastain. Meanwhile, the remaining Playoff competitors of Briscoe and Hamlin were mired back in 24th and 25th.

Fifteen laps later, Reddick stabilized his advantage to four-tenths of a second over Cindric while Blaney, Byron and Logano remained in the top five. By then, Suarez, Bell and Wallace remained in sixth through eighth, respectively, while Larson and Kyle Busch cracked the top 10. Behind, Elliott picked up two additional spots on the track to move up to 13th in front of Chastain, Hamlin was back in 22nd and Briscoe was mired in 28th behind Brad Keselowski and Ty Dillon.

Another nine laps later, Cindric muscled his No. 2 AutoTrader Ford Mustang into the lead. In addition, teammate Blaney overtook Reddick for the runner-up spot. Shortly after, the first round of green flag pit stops commenced as Chris Buescher pitted followed by Cole Custer, Suarez, Kyle Busch, Truex, Larson, Wallace, Reddick, Logano, Byron, Harvick, Keselowski, Blaney, Hamlin, McDowell, Chastain, Bell, Elliott, the leader Cindric and others.

By Lap 45 and with the first round of green flag pit stops complete, Suarez cycled his way into the lead followed by Wallace, Logano, Kyle Busch and Reddick while Blaney, Bell, Cindric, Byron and Larson were scored in the top 10. By then, Chastain, Elliott and Hamlin were scored in the top 16 while Briscoe was back in 26th.

On Lap 57, Wallace gained a strong run on Suarez entering Turn 1 before muscling his No. 45 McDonald’s Toyota TRD Camry into the lead through the backstretch. Suarez, however, kept Wallace close within his sights as Logano started to close in on the two leaders in his No. 22 Pennzoil Ford Mustang. Behind, Blaney was locked in a tight battle against Bell and Kyle Busch for fourth place while Cindric and Reddick were back in seventh and eighth.

By Lap 70, Wallace retained the lead by half a second over Logano and nearly a second over third-place Suarez. Behind, Bell trailed by more than a second in fourth place while Blaney and Kyle Busch remained in a tight battle for sixth place. By then, Playoff competitor Briscoe, who earned the final transfer spot into the Round of 8 following his late charge at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course a week ago, was lapped by Wallace.

Then with three laps remaining in the first stage, the first caution of the event flew when Kyle Busch got loose and spun his No. 18 M&M’s Toyota TRD Camry across the frontstretch. Busch’s spin was enough for the first stage scheduled on Lap 80 to conclude under caution as Wallace captured his second stage victory of the 2022 season. Logano settled in second followed by Suarez, Bell, Blaney, Cindric, Larson, Truex, Reddick and Byron. By then, four of eight Playoff competitors were scored in the top 10. The remaining Playoff competitors that included Chastain, Hamlin, Elliott and Briscoe were mired back in 11th, 15th, 19th and 25th, respectively.

Under the stage break, the leaders led by Wallace pitted and Wallace retained the lead after exiting pit road first followed by Suarez, Logano, Truex, Chastain and Byron. 

The second stage started on Lap 85 as Wallace and Suarez occupied the front row. At the start and with the field fanning out through the first two turns, Suarez reassumed the lead followed by teammate Chastain while Wallace fell back to third. Behind, the field continued to fan out to three lanes as Logano moved up to fourth followed by Blaney, Harvick and Truex while Larson, Bell and Byron battled within the top 10.

Nine laps later, the caution returned when Larson, who made a dive bomb move entering Turn 3 while trying to overtake both Harvick and Wallace and move into the top five, slid up the track and ran Wallace towards the outside wall as Wallace hit the wall before bumping against Larson. Then when both competitors were trying to straighten their cars entering the frontstretch, Wallace veered dead left into Larson as both competitors spun and wrecked alongside the frontstretch wall while also collecting Bell, who sustained damage to his No. 20 Rheem Toyota TRD Camry. Moments after the carnage, Wallace, who emerged uninjured from his wrecked car, made his way to Larson and instigated a shoving match to express his displeasure towards the reigning Cup champion before walking back to his pit stall.

During the caution period, the leaders returned to pit road and Hamlin emerged with the lead following a two-tire pit stop followed by Suarez, Chastain, Logano, Blaney and Harvick. By then, Bell was still on pit road as his crew was trying to repair the damage to his car. The damage, however, was enough to knock Bell out of the race as his 10-minute DVP clock period expired.

During the following restart attempt on Lap 102, the caution quickly returned when Stenhouse spun below the apron in the frontstretch as he was entering Turn 1. In addition, Briscoe made contact with Truex as he pitted during the caution period.

When the race restarted on Lap 107, Suarez, who reassumed the lead from Hamlin during the initial, brief restart, received a push from teammate Chastain to retain the lead as the field fanned out. Not long after, however, Chastain overtook his Trackhouse Racing teammate to move his No. 1 Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 into the lead as the field continued to jostle for spots on the track.

By Lap 125, Chastain was leading by three-tenths of a second over teammate Suarez followed by Blaney, Logano and Byron while Hamlin, Reddick, Harvick, Cindric and Erik Jones occupied the top 10. Three laps later, however, Blaney cycled his No. 12 Menards Ford Mustang atop the leaderboard.

At the halfway mark between Laps 133 and 134, Blaney was leading by seven-tenths of a second over teammate Logano while Chastain, Suarez, Byron, Reddick, Hamlin, Harvick, Cindric and Gragson occupied the top 10 as 30 of 36 starters were running on the lead lap. By then, five of eight Playoff competitors were running in the top 10 on the track while one, Bell, was out of the race. Meanwhile, Elliott was mired back in 20th and Briscoe was running behind him in 21st place.

With 15 laps remaining in the second stage, Blaney continued to lead by more than a second over teammate Logano while Chastain, Suarez and Hamlin were running in the top five. By then, Byron was back in sixth followed by Cindric, Reddick, Harvick and Truex while Kyle Busch, Gragson, Almirola, Allmendinger and Erik Jones were scored in the top 15. 

When the second stage concluded on Lap 165, Blaney captured his eighth stage victory of the 2022 season. Teammate Logano settled in second followed by Suarez, Chastain, Hamlin, Byron, Harvick, Truex, Cindric and Kyle Busch. By then five of seven Playoff competitors on the track were scored in the top 10 while the remaining Playoff competitors that included Briscoe and Elliott were back in 19th and 23rd, respectively. In addition, 27 of 36 starters were scored on the lead lap.

Under the stage break, the leaders led by Blaney pitted, but teammate Logano exited pit road first followed by Hamlin, Blaney, Chastain, Almirola and Harvick. Following the pit stops, Ty Gibbs was penalized for speeding on pit road.

With 96 laps remaining, the final stage started under green as Logano and Hamlin occupied the front row. At the start, Logano muscled into the lead on the inside lane and teammate Blaney rocketed his way to second place as the field fanned out to multiple lanes through the backstretch and back to the frontstretch.

With 80 laps remaining, Logano was out in front by two-tenths of a second over teammate Blaney while Chastain, Harvick, Hamlin, Byron, Cindric, Reddick, Kyle Busch and Truex were running in the top 10. By then, Briscoe was up in 12th while Elliott was back in 20th.

Six laps later, the caution flew when JJ Yeley spun in Turn 4. During the caution period, the leaders led by Logano pitted, but Chastain exited first with four fresh tires. Following the pit stops, Custer was penalized for speeding on pit road. In addition, teammate Harvick pitted again to have the left-rear wheel on his car tightened.

When the race restarted with 68 laps remaining, Chastain retained the lead and checked out over the field that fanned out entering the backstretch.

Down to the final 50 laps of the event, Chastain was leading by more than a second over Almirola while Blaney, Logano and Kyle Busch were in the top five. Erik Jones, Hamlin, Briscoe, Byron and Justin Haley were scored in the top 10 as 28 of 36 starters were scored on the lead lap. With six of seven Playoff competitors running on the track in the top 10, Elliott was the lowest-running Playoff competitor in 17th place behind Harvick. By then, Cindric, who made early contact with the wall in Turn 1, was strapped in 32nd, multiple laps down, as he pitted under green.

Then with 40 laps remaining, the caution flew when Blaney, who was battling teammate Logano for the runner-up spot, wiggled up the track in Turn 1 and brushed against the outside wall. Blaney then hit the wall again as he got loose and slid below the frontstretch before hitting the inside wall and damaging his car. Despite damaging his car, Blaney, who lost multiple laps to the leaders, was able to meet minimum speed to continue.

During the caution period, the leaders led by Chastain returned to pit road for service and Haley exited with the lead following a two-tire pit stop followed by Chastain, Almirola, Kyle Busch. Byron, Ty Dillon and Briscoe. As the field exited pit road, Kyle Busch’s car went up in smoke before the left-front wheel, which was not properly installed, came off of Busch’s Toyota through the backstretch, which forced the two-time Cup champion to pit for another wheel.

During the following restart with 35 laps remaining, the field fanned out to multiple lanes as Haley retained the lead. Behind, Briscoe carved his way to second while Chastain and Suarez battled for third. The following lap, Briscoe slipped up the track, which caused Chastain to bump him and step out of the gas to avoid igniting a wreck. 

Five laps later, Ty Dillon made contact with the wall, but the race remained under green flag conditions as Haley was leading by three-tenths of a second over Briscoe followed by Suarez, a hard-charging Reddick and Chastain. Another three laps later, however, the caution flew when Reddick slid up in front of Suarez in a battle for third entering the frontstretch. Reddick’s move caused Suarez to slide sideways as he spun and looped his No. 99 Kid Rock Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 through the frontstretch grass before proceeding. During the caution period, some led by Logano pitted while the rest led by Haley remained on the track.

With 22 laps remaining, the race restarted under green as Haley and Briscoe dueled for the lead. As the battle for the lead intensified while the field fanned out, the caution quickly returned when Landon Cassill spun in Turn 4. 

Down to the final 16 laps of the event, the race proceeded under green. At the start, Haley and Briscoe dueled for the lead through the first two turns until Chastain pulled a bold three-wide move on both to reassume the lead entering Turn 3 and when the field returned to the frontstretch. 

With 10 laps remaining, Chastain was leading by nine-tenths of a second over Briscoe and a second over a hard-charging Logano, who would overtake Briscoe a lap later, while Kyle Busch and Hamlin were in the top five. By then, Erik Jones, Truex, Haley, Reddick and Allmendinger were running in the top 10 as the field jostled for late positions.

Five laps later, the battle for the lead and a championship spot for the finale crescendoed to its highest peak as Logano, who was inching closer to Chastain, drew himself to Chastain’s rear bumper. While Logano got close to Chastain’s rear bumper, Chastain withstood his ground and managed to retain the top spot while running close to the outside wall for momentum. Their battle allowed Kyle Busch and Briscoe to close in on the two leaders.

After trying to navigate his way around Chastain amid lapped traffic, Logano seized an opportunity with three laps remaining as he moved beneath Chastain in Turn 1 before sliding up and clearing Chastain in the backstretch. With the clean air to his advantage, Logano started to slowly pull away while Kyle Busch tried to close in on Chastain for second place.

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Logano was out in front by half a second Chastain and eight-tenths over third-place Kyle Busch. As Chastain and Busch battled for second, they were unable to close back in on Logano, who navigated his way back to the frontstretch and streaked across the finish line to grab the victory and his spot to the championship finale.

In addition, Logano claimed his third Cup triumph at Las Vegas, his 30th career victory in NASCAR’s premier series and his first since winning at World Wide Technology Raceway in June. After becoming the first competitor to secure a spot in the 2022 Championship 4 finale, it will mark Logano’s fifth appearance as a title finalist for the finale.

“We’re racing for a championship! Let’s go!” Logano exclaimed on the frontstretch on NBC. “Man, what a great car. The Penske cars were all fast. All of them were really fast today. All you want to do is get to the Championship 4 when the season starts and race for a championship. We got the team to do it. I don’t see why not we can’t win at this point. Things are looking really good for us. Awesome Pennzoil Mustang. Man, just a lot of adversity. [I] Fought through the last 50 laps or so. I thought we were gonna win, then we kind of fell out, had the tires. Racing Ross [Chastain] was fun. He was doing a good job, blocking me. I was trying to be patient and eventually, I was like, ‘I gotta go here.’ Just great to win out here in Vegas again and it means so much to get into the championship [finale].”

Chastain fended off Kyle Busch, who scrubbed the wall after getting blocked by Chastain approaching the checkered flag, to finish second while Briscoe and Hamlin completed the top five.

“For our Tootsies Chevy, that was all we had,” Chastain, who is 18 points above the top-four cutline in the Playoff standings, said. “There was a clear difference in tires there, so we fully believed that we could hold [Logano] off and win the race on the tires we had. Joey did a good job of getting through the field. At the end there, I hope I’m racing that guy for a really long time. Like we’ve been saying all year, this is the arrival of Trackhouse [Racing], and I wouldn’t want to be doing it with anybody else. I’m sure I can go back and find a few things, and to run the top there and let him get inside of me, I thought I had one more corner to do that, and he just got positioned on me there on the frontstretch, and we were just really tight.”

Reddick, Truex, Erik Jones, Allmendinger and Austin Dillon came home in the top 10 as 25 of 36 starters finished on the lead lap. With four of eight Playoff competitors finishing in the top 10 on the track, the remaining Playoff competitors that included Byron, Elliott, Blaney and Bell ended up 13th, 21st, 28th and 34th, respectively.

There were 18 lead changes for 11 different leaders. The race featured eight cautions for 42 laps.

Results.

1. Joey Logano, 32 laps led

2. Ross Chastain, 68 laps led

3. Kyle Busch

4. Chase Briscoe, six laps led

5. Denny Hamlin, five laps led

6. Tyler Reddick, 32 laps led

7. Martin Truex Jr.

8. Erik Jones

9. AJ Allmendinger

10. Austin Dillon

11. Noah Gragson

12. Kevin Harvick

13. William Byron

14. Justin Haley, 16 laps led

15. Chris Buescher

16. Daniel Suarez, 31 laps led

17. Brad Keselowski

18. Aric Almirola

19. Michael McDowell

20. Cole Custer

21. Chase Elliott

22. Ty Gibbs

23. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., one lap led

24. Corey LaJoie

25. Todd Gilliland

26. Harrison Burton, one lap down

27. Cody Ware, three laps down

28. Ryan Blaney, seven laps down, 39 laps led, Stage 2 winner

29. Austin Cindric, eight laps down, eight laps led

30. BJ McLeod, 11 laps down

31. JJ Yeley, 14 laps down

32. Landon Cassill – OUT, Accident

33. Ty Dillon – OUT, Suspension

34. Christopher Bell – OUT, Dvp

35. Kyle Larson – OUT, Accident

36. Bubba Wallace – OUT, Accident, 29 laps led, Stage 1 winner

*Bold indicates Playoff contenders

Playoff standings

1. Joey Logano – Advanced

2. Ross Chastain +18

3. Chase Elliott +17

4. Denny Hamlin +6

5. William Byron -6

6. Chase Briscoe -9

7. Ryan Blaney -11

8. Christopher Bell -23

The Round of 8 in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs will continue next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. The event is scheduled to occur on Sunday, October 23, at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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