Logano Conquers Talladega as Surprise Eliminations Shake up Chase Field

Two blown engines, jacks going upwards of 150 mph, punches thrown and four drivers eliminated from The Chase. Just another Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway.

When the checkered flag flew on the Hellman’s 500 from the 2.66-mile oval, Chase contender Joey Logano was the victor. The No. 22 survived an overtime finish to hold Brian Scott (career-best second place finish) and the rest of the field to secure his spot in the Round of 8.

It’s never a layup here at Talladega. It’s always close,” Logano told NBCSN post-race. “You never get a big lead. Todd (Gordon) made some good adjustments during the race and found some speed in the car, so that was pretty neat to see some of that.”

Logano’s win on Sunday afternoon was his second of the season and his second at Talladega in his career.

“We got that track position and just hung onto it,” he went on to say. “I was able to stay on the bottom and try to run the bottom and keep everyone in line, and that worked out really well.”

The four drivers that were eliminated from championship contention were Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. Elliott led nine laps, but ultimately fell short of advancing to the next round. His season has been one for the books, though, as he has the 2016 Rookie of the Year award all but finalized behind the wheel of the No. 24 car.

As for Keselowski and Truex Jr., it was heartbreak. The No. 2, which has been dominant on restrictor plate racks lately, winning four of the last six coming into Sunday, had the engine expire while leading the race due to debris on the grille overheating the car.

The same happened to the No. 78–the championship favorite. His engine let go on lap 41 of 188, ending his day and his best chance for a Sprint Cup title.

Dillon missed out on advancing by a mere two feet. That margin is familiar to Denny Hamlin, who advanced to the next round via tiebreaker with the No. 3. Dillon’s frustrations were summed up in a simple tweet following the conclusion of the race.

For Hamlin, it was far from disappointment. “For me, I really truly believe this is the first really great fortune that we had in a Chase in my 11-year career,” Hamlin told NBCSN post-race following his third place finish. “Things just happened well for us. We went out there and we did our jobs. It was very tough to be able to run against guys that had a lot of teammates up front. I knew that was going to be a problem for us all day.”

Hamlin’s other three Joe Gibbs Racing teammates were virtual non-factors all day. Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch came home 28th, 29th and 30th after running in the back of the pack all day aiming to avoid “The Big One,” which never occurred.

Kurt Busch finished fourth and is on to the next round. However, there was a spat with his teammate Kevin Harvick (who also advanced to the next round).

There was an apparent misunderstanding on the cool-down lap where the No. 41 bumped the No. 4. Harvick, not happy, got out of his car, walked to Busch’s and appeared to throw a punch inside the cockpit.

Nevertheless, Jimmie Johnson, Harvick, Logano, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Edwards, Hamlin and Kenseth are the eight that remain after three rounds. The updated Chase Grid has a new look as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads from the biggest track on the circuit to the smallest, Martinsville Speedway, next weekend for the first race in the Round of 8 (Oct. 31, NBCSN).