Logano wins at Michigan

Logano celebrates
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Add another name to the Chase conversation.

Joey Logano started Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from the pole, and after a convoluted mix of strategy and racing incidents, it was Logano who claimed the victory and established himself as a contender for a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

The victory was Logano's first of the season, his first at Michigan, his first for Penske Racing and the third of his career. Kevin Harvick ran second, followed by Kurt Busch, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer.

The victory moved Logano from 16th to 13th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings, 17 points out of 10 place. The youngest winner in MIS history also is in play for a Wild Card, with two spots available to the drivers in positions 11-20 in the standings with the most victories.

"This is huge for our Chase hopes," Logano said. "We needed this to have a shot at getting in the Chase. We're close now, but we can't make any mistakes. This sure does help a lot."

Mark Martin took off after a restart on Lap 178, as Kurt Busch, Logano and Harvick battled for the second spot behind him. But Martin was short on field, and after the running order shuffled out with Logano in second and Harvick in third, the pursuers began to close in on the leader.

But Logano, 23, who came to the public eye as a 14-year-old with praise from the 54-year-old Martin, couldn't make the pass for the lead, even though Martin was trying mightily to save fuel.

"I noticed he was lifting early, because I was catching him on entry (into the corners)," Logano said. "He was able to pull me on exit. I wanted to get by him, because I knew the 29 (Harvick) was fast, too…

"It is so cool to be here in Victory Lane. It's crazy racing Mark Martin, my childhood hero. I was able to race against him in Pocono last year for the win. It is so cool racing against a guy like that
But when Martin slowed in Turn 3 on Lap 197 and brought his car to pit road for fuel, Logano shot past him into the lead with Harvick in hot pursuit. Logano held the top spot for the final four laps and took the checkered flag by 1.018 seconds over the No. 29 Chevrolet.

To Harvick, the race was decided on the final restart. Harvick lined up inside Martin with Logano's No. 22 Ford behind the No. 29 Chevy.

"Just mistimed that last restart there," Harvick said. "I had a great run on the 55 (Martin). Was going to beat him to the line by too much. Wound up having to drag the brakes. From there, it was going to be sketchy if we were going to keep the 22 back there.

"Went for it, backfired a little bit there as we got three-wide and lost some track position. I didn't think we were going to be racing the 55 there for the win (because Martin was short on fuel). I thought if we could just get out of Turn 2 in second we'd be in good shape. Got a little bit greedy and lost a couple spots there. That's what ultimately cost us the win."

Series leader Jimmie Johnson couldn't exorcise his Michigan jinx. After wrecking his primary car in Saturday's practice, Johnson started Sunday's race from the rear of the field in a backup car. He took the lead on Lap 43 during a cycle of green-flag pit stops, but shortly thereafter Johnson exited the race because of an engine failure.

"The engine broke there," Johnson said after bringing the car to the garage. "I guess when we came in for a green flag pit stop, something started then and made it a few more laps and didn't really notice anything off.
"Then it finally dropped a cylinder or two down the backstretch. Definitely an unfortunate thing, but we had plenty of speed in the car and I think we were going to be a factor."

Johnson could afford that sort of failure, having locked himself into the Chase last week at Watkins Glen. The same couldn't be said of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., who smacked the Turn 2 wall on Lap 135 — after leading 20 circuits earlier in the race — and took his crippled car to the garage for repairs.
Earnhardt finished 36th and dropped from sixth to seventh in the standings, 20 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne with three races left before the Chase field is set at Richmond.

Though he was the victim of an early spin in Turn 4, Austin Dillon rallied from a lap down to finish 14th in his substitute role for injured Tony Stewart, the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet is in a tight battle with the No. 56 of Michael Waltrip Racing for a spot in the owners' Chase.

After Sunday's race, the two cars are tied for the final Wild Card spot, with the No. 56, driven by Martin Truex Jr. holding the tiebreaker based on quality of finishes..


Pos No. Driver Make St Laps Led Status.
1 22 Joey Logano Ford 1 200 51 Running
2 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 15 200 0 Running
3 78 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 2 200 43 Running
4 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 20 200 0 Running
5 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 11 200 0 Running
6 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 26 200 1 Running
7 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 31 200 0 Running
8 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 5 200 0 Running
9 16 Greg Biffle Ford 16 200 28 Running
10 99 Carl Edwards Ford 19 200 0 Running
11 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 6 200 0 Running
12 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 9 200 17 Running
13 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 21 200 0 Running
14 14 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 27 200 0 Running
15 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 12 200 0 Running
16 56 Martin Truex Jr Toyota 17 200 0 Running
17 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 13 200 0 Running
18 43 Aric Almirola Ford 14 200 0 Running
19 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford 22 200 0 Running
20 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 8 200 9 Running
21 21 Trevor Bayne Ford 18 200 1 Running
22 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 29 200 0 Running
23 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 28 200 0 Running
24 34 David Ragan Ford 24 200 1 Running
25 13 Casey Mears Ford 33 200 2 Running
26 30 David Stremme Toyota 36 200 0 Running
27 55 Mark Martin Toyota 4 199 23 Running
28 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota 38 198 0 Running
29 32 Timmy Hill Ford 34 198 0 Running
30 7 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 42 197 0 Running
31 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 10 197 0 Running
32 33 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 43 197 0 Running
33 51 Brendan Gaughan Chevrolet 39 196 0 Running
34 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 37 192 0 Running
35 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota 30 186 0 Running
36 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 7 171 20 Running
37 38 David Gilliland Ford 23 165 1 Engine
38 83 David Reutimann Toyota 25 153 0 Running
39 35 Josh Wise Ford 40 56 0 Vibration
40 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 3 54 3 Engine
41 95 Scott Speed Ford 32 35 0 Vibration
42 98 Johnny Sauter Ford 41 34 0 Vibration
43 36 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet 35 12 0 Accident

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