Logano Wins at Phoenix as Wild Race Sets Championship Four

When the day started, eight entered. When the day ended, only four left.

Joey Logano won the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in a double overtime finish to advance to the Championship Four next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The win is his third of the season, the 17th of his career and his first victory at PIR.

Along with him, defending champion Kyle Busch advanced based on points after finishing in second place to join his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards (finished 19th) and six-time champion Jimmie Johnson (finished 38th after an accident).

“Man, this feels so good. I’ve never felt this good about a win before,” Logano told NBCSN in victory lane. “There was so much on the line and everyone brings their A-game when it comes to winning championships, and this team did it.

“I had a good restart there at the and holding off Kyle (Busch) to try to get this thing into Miami. We’re racing for a championship now. We did exactly what we had to do. We’ve got to go to Homestead and do the same thing. I’m speechless right now.”

Failing to advance for the first time in three years of this Chase format was 2014 champion Kevin Harvick. The king of Phoenix just didn’t have the speed all weekend long and ran outside the top ten for the majority of the race. The No. 4 rebounded to finish fourth, but will not race for the title.

His Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch was also in a must-win situation and failed to deliver in his No. 41 Chevrolet.

Matt Kenseth led 55 of the 312 laps but finished in 21st place after a late-race incident with Arizona native Alex Bowman sent his day up in smoke. Kenseth had the lead on the restart when he turned down. The No. 88 of Bowman, who dominated and led 194 laps to finish sixth, clipped the No. 20’s left rear and sent him into the outside wall.

On the restart, Kyle Busch got a good run on Bowman and made slight contact with him, causing the No. 88 to wiggle. Then, Bowman held his line on the inside heading into turn one, Kenseth came down, and the rest is history.

Kenseth’s spotter, Chris “Crazy” Osborne took the blame for the accident.

His JGR teammate Denny Hamlin missed out on qualifying for the Championship Four by seven points, but he can live with the consequences after giving it all he had in the No. 11 Toyota.

Some other notable finishers included Kyle Larson in third, Ryan Blaney in eighth, Chase Elliott in ninth, Brad Keselowski in 14th, Tony Stewart in 15th and Danica Patrick in 29th.

Next week, all three NASCAR series head to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the final race of the 2016 season. All four drivers—Johnson, Edwards, Busch and Logano–have one goal in mind, and that’s to finish ahead of each other in order to win the championship.

NOTES:

  • Kyle Busch’s No. 18 car was found to have 19 of 20 lug nuts secure in post-race inspection. The only penalty expected is a fine.
  • Daniel Suarez won the Camping World Truck Series race on Friday. Johnny Sauter, Timothy Peters, Matt Crafton and Christopher Bell make up the Championship Four, as the dominant truck all season in William Byron blew an engine late while leading.
  • Kyle Busch also won the XFINITY Series race on Saturday. Elliott Sadler, Daniel Suarez, Justin Allgaier and Erik Jones make up the Championship Four. Sadler’s crew chief Kevin Meendering will be suspended for next week’s race due to a lug-nut violation in post-race inspection (two were not secure onto the wheel).