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Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup fourth-place finisher, Joey Logano , gives a speech at the Sprint Cup Series Awards in Las Vegas.
Logano already in Eliminator Round; Kes wins his way in RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize Brad Keselowski 's chances of advancing to the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup appeared to take a hit when he was involved in a Lap 59 wreck that brought out the first caution of the day during Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway . But the 2012 Sprint Cup champion serged late on the second of two green-white-checkered finish attempts to win the GEICO 500 and race his way into the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Keselowski was running with the lead pack when Jamie McMurray suffered a cut left-rear tire that ignited a chain reaction. McMurray got into Keselowski and Michael McDowell , and sent Keselowski's Team Penske teammate Joey Logano spinning into the infield. Keselowski suffered minor damage and took four tires in the ensuing pit stop, and his crew took a long look at his damage. Logano fell a lap back at the time but already advanced to the Eliminator Round after winning at Kansas. He finished the race in 11th place. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Recapping the day at Homestead for the three odd drivers out MORE: Full race results " Final season standings " Harvick wins championship HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- With 20 laps left in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale, all four title contenders were occupying the top four positions on the track. Some of the hardest racing of the season had gotten them there, but only one could hoist the championship trophy after the nerve-shaking finish. Kevin Harvick survived everything the remaining three could throw at him, claiming his first title in NASCAR's premier series Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Ryan Newman , Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano came up short in the Ford EcoBoost 400 , but the varying paths prompted varying reactions with equal parts resignation, acceptance and heartache. How the three odd men out of the Championship 4 fared Sunday: Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet Sunday's finish: 2nd. Final standings: 2nd (previous career-best: 6th in 2002, 2003 and 2005) How it played out: The lone winless driver eligible for the crown started the farthest back on the grid, in 21st place, but steadily worked his way up the leaderboard to crack the top five by Lap 72. Newman benefited from crew chief Luke Lambert's call for two tires during the team's final pit stop, then inherited second place when Jeff Gordon pitted under caution with 11 laps remaining. From there, Newman fought hard but gave way to Harvick's charge to the front on the next-to-last restart, taking the checkered flag exactly half a second behind the 2014 champion in the team's best finish of the season. What they said: "I was happy the situation I was in. I mean, our sport would have been better if the four of us were on the front two rows, absolutely, but in the end I was one of the guys that had a shot at it, and I was happy to be in that position. But man, you live for the moment and you drive as hard as you can. We didn't have quite enough. That's disappointing, but like I said, it was an awesome team effort, and I think, again, this is a great race track to have a race like this, and I thought there was some amazing passing, and we don't get that at every race track. It was fun from my standpoint to come from where we came from this year. We started the season in Daytona getting spun out in the last five laps to being the runner‑up for the championship. It was a good rebound for us." Support system: Team owner Richard Childress has won championships before, securing six as a team owner with NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt. But a win Sunday would have given the 69-year-old former driver his first title in 20 years. "It hurts. Now I know talking to Ned Yost last week how he feels, coming up short," Childress said, comparing his situation to the World Series loss for the Kansas City Royals manager, a close personal friend. Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota Sunday's finish: 7th Final standings: 3rd (career-best: 2nd, 2010) How it played out: Hamlin started eighth and wound up being the only driver among the ousted three to lead laps in the season finale. His race turned, however, when crew chief Darian Grubb elected to keep his driver on the track during the 11th of 13 yellow flags. The move gave Hamlin the lead in the 253rd of 267 laps, but the driver said over his team radio that he wasn't sure about the strategy: "I don't know. I thought we could have beat them on pit road." On older tires and with two restarts still to come, Hamlin held the top spot for as long as he could until Harvick stormed to the front with eight laps left. His car continued to fade, a top-five slipping away in the final few circuits. What they said: "You know, for me there's not one thing I would have done different. I mean, we brought a car that was capable of winning. I just don't know how to express it enough. Sometimes breaks go your way, sometimes they don't. They just didn't go our way. There's not much else we could have done with the strategy that we played with the cautions that came out. I wouldn't do a thing different. I think we overachieved greatly by being here, and we haven't had the speed to compete for race wins all year, and we did today, on the race that really mattered. Just came up short. You know, this is the third time around that I've had an opportunity to win a championship, but each one has been different, and this has by far been our best effort as far as going out there and trying to get it done." Support system: Hamlin had NBA legend and personal friend Michael Jordan behind his pit stall as part of a star-studded cheering section. But he also had Grubb thinking outside the box in an effort to gain track position. The crew chief led a team huddle at the back of the hauler, offering words of encouragement. Though he said he'd have loved a do-over, he wasn't completely faulting the decision. "Hindsight is 20-20. It's the wrong call. But, at the time it was the perfect call," Grubb said. "We were able to get out there and get the lead. We had, I think, 17 laps to go. We were walking away from them and the next closest guy with tires was in seventh, I believe. So, we had it wrapped up there and then two quick cautions are what killed us." Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford Sunday's finish: 16th Final standings: 4th (previous career-best: 8th, 2013) How it played out: Logano started his day in ninth place and soon became a fixture among the top five. Though he found plenty of speed in his No. 22 entry, pivotal miscues on his final pit stops were his undoing. Logano lost some momentum after scraping the wall near the Lap 180 mark, but the bigger pitfalls came during the team's final stops. In the race's seventh caution, Logano lost six spots in a 14.6-second stop when a dropped lug nut caused a delay. Two stops later, disaster struck when the car slipped off the jack right after the crew had removed the left-side tires. The Penske crew fixed the issue but only after the No. 22 had spent an agonizing 49.3 seconds in the pit box. Logano rejoined the race in 29th place, slamming his fist on the steering wheel as his hopes for a first Sprint Cup title evaporated. What they said: "Unfortunately, a great season like that makes this overall finish fourth because of one mistake, but that's what the rules are. We understand that. This team did a great job of consistently being fast. In the previous years that would have been perfect. But coming into this race and the way the points go, it doesn't pay any more obviously. Just didn't execute perfectly tonight, and for that reason we'll finish fourth. But we still feel like we did a lot better than fourth this season." Support system: Crew chief Todd Gordon said he suspected Sunday's pit-road gaffe was the first time all season that the car had slipped off the jack. The level of dejection was evident on his driver's face afterward, but Gordon said that once time passes after Sunday's setback that the team will be able to relish the strides made in Logano's second year under the Penske umbrella. "If you look at the whole deal, all the work, there is a lot to be proud of this season," Gordon said. "Five wins and getting ourselves into the Championship Round are good things. I felt like execution would be the dictator tonight and we didn’t do that. That is the long and the short. We had issues and had them late enough that you can't recover from them. We had a few and we just didn't execute." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Three of Championship 4 will start in top nine at Homestead-Miami RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota MORE: Roger Penske: Nobody gets inside Joey's head HOMESTEAD, Mia. – No one stuffed it in the wall, no one cracked under pressure. And Kevin Harvick continued to needle fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano . The first day of on-track activity for NASCAR's final race, the Ford EcoBoost 200 (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN) to determine the 2014 Sprint Cup championship concluded without a hitch for the Championship 4 contenders -- Denny Hamlin , Harvick, Logano and Ryan Newman . Fireworks failed to materialize, although Harvick did his best to stay front and center here at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Harvick was fastest among the four in qualifying, and his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet will start fifth in Sunday's 43-car field. Hamlin ( Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota) qualified eighth; Logano ( Team Penske No. 22 Ford) ninth and Newman ( Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet) 21st. The pole went to Jeff Gordon , his third this season and the 200th for his Hendrick Motorsports organization. With Logano and Hamlin conducting their portion of the post-qualifying press conference, Harvick walked into the room and made a beeline for the stage, ignoring a request to wait and join Newman on stage after the Logano /Hamlin session had been completed. "Sit next to my buddy," Harvick said as he took a seat next to Logano . "What's up, friend?" Logano asked. "Long time no see." It was a minor act in a major play and no one knows how much or how little effect Harvick's antics will have come Sunday. Two days earlier and a bit further north, Harvick was quick to reference the finish of an earlier Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega in which he felt Logano held up the outside line on a late restart, slowing Harvick and others enough to allow teammate Brad Keselowski to score the win and advance one more round. "He knows I wasn't joking," Harvick said at the time. Gamesmanship aside, Harvick said he was pleased with his team's first day on the track. And with access to data from three teammates, as well as the teams of Gordon and the Hendrick organization, there's plenty of information at his team’s disposal. "We know we can get better tomorrow," he said of the two practice sessions slated for Saturday. "We have a good spot to start in race trim and seven other cars that are running good to see some of the trends on their stuff today. "All in all, we have a lot to look at and a lot of resources to pull from, and everybody is pulling the rope in the same direction, and we'll just keep plugging away." Logano , eighth here a year ago but a winner of five races this season, called it "an OK day." The speed wasn’t there during practice, he said, but "once again, the 22 bunch kept their heads together, and we were able to make some good changes and found quite a bit of speed out of our car." Hamlin, the defending race winner, likened the feel of his car to last year's piece. "I knew we were going to win the race," he said. "I knew in practice we were going to win the race, and my car feels equally as good this time around." Newman's the lone one of the four without a victory this year, a point he's been asked about constantly. The pragmatic driver hasn't changed his outlook -- he knows the task that awaits his team. "We start 21st ... and I don't think that's the end of our day," he said, "but my comment after qualifying was we beat half of them today, and we've got 267 laps to beat the other half on Sunday. "We've got good equipment, good cars, good people. Our pit stops have gotten better. It's going to be a crazy race, I think. It's going to be some really crazy restarts, but I don't think your starting position defines who's going to finish there." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Driver has won a career-best four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2014 RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize In the midst of a career-best season, Joey Logano has signed a new "multi-year" agreement with Team Penske, the team announced Thursday. Logano will continue to pilot the No. 22 Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the No. 22 Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series under the terms of the deal. " Joey Logano has been everything we hoped he would be, both as a driver and as a representative of our organization and for our partners," team owner Roger Penske said. "He continues to put points on the board for us and the continuity and chemistry he has developed within the team has been terrific. We believe he can be a leader and championship-level driver for Team Penske for years to come." Logano is currently second in the points standings and, with his win last week at New Hampshire, has guaranteed himself a spot in the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He has four wins, 12 top-fives and 17 top-10s this year. "I am fortunate and excited to be a part of Team Penske for the foreseeable future," Logano said. "Mr. Penske gives us everything we need to keep our eye on the prize and compete for wins and championships. I think that is clear by the number of wins we have across the board this year. "I'm fortunate to represent great companies like Ford, Shell-Pennzoil, AAA, AutoTrader.com, Discount Tire, Hertz and all of the great partners we have here at Team Penske. I think our best years are in front of us for sure." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Johnson, Earnhardt Jr. and Keselowski among those involved in incidents MORE: Full race results " Updated series standings RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- In a race that saw Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup favorites Jimmie Johnson , Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr . fall by the wayside, Joey Logano earned a ticket to the Eliminator Round of the Chase with a hard-fought victory in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway . Logano beat rookie Kyle Larson to the finish line by .480 seconds to notch his fifth victory of the season, tied with Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski for most in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this year. The win was Logano ’s first at Kansas and the eighth of his career. Kyle Busch ran third, posting his first-ever top-five at a track that has plagued him mercilessly in races past. Martin Truex Jr . came home fourth, posting his first top-five of the season and his second consecutive top-10. Carl Edwards was fifth, with fellow Chase drivers Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin right behind him in sixth and seventh, respectively. Logano can now enjoy the next two races at Charlotte and Talladega worry-free, assured of earning one of the eight spots in the Eliminator Round. “It makes Talladega a lot easier, that is for sure,” Logano said. “To know we are onto the next round, we can focus on a few more races coming up, and we’ll keep trying to capitalize like we’re doing. ... “It’s so much fun to race these cars lately. Everyone at Team Penske has given me great stuff to work with. It’s awesome to be back in Victory Lane again. I felt we had a good car all weekend, but I wasn’t 100-percent sure; but once that top (lane of the race track) opened up, it just took off.” Clobbered in a Lap 85 wreck also involving Greg Biffle , Justin Allgaier and Josh Wise , Johnson finished 40th, matching his worst result ever in a Chase race (2005 at Homestead) and faces an uphill battle toward a possible record-tying seventh series championship. Johnson goes to Charlotte next Sunday last among the 12 remaining Chase drivers, 27 points behind teammate Jeff Gordon in eighth place. Two weeks hence, at Talladega, the Chase field will be cut from 12 to eight drivers. Earnhardt led 45 laps before a flat right front tire sent him hard into the Turn 4 wall on Lap 122 of 267 while leading the race. Earnhardt limped home in 39th place and dropped to 11th in the Chase standings, 25 points behind Gordon, who salvaged a 14th place finish despite hitting the Turn 4 wall after contact from Jamie McMurray ’s Chevrolet. Keselowski, the 2012 series champion, was running fifth when he blew a right front tire and slammed into the Turn 2 wall on Lap 160. He finished 36th and is 10th in the Chase standings, 22 points behind Gordon. Johnson, Earnhardt and Keselowski weren’t the only Chase drivers to have issues. On a day that saw all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers tag the wall, Kasey Kahne damaged his No. 5 Chevrolet after a restart on Lap 235. Kahne had taken a wave-around after an early pit stop had left him a lap down and was mired in traffic when the car got away from him in Turn 2. He finished 22nd. Polesitter Kevin Harvick led 61 laps but brought his car to pit road for an unscheduled stop on Lap 215, mistakenly thinking his right front tire was going down. Harvick lost a lap but used a wave-around and some hard racing in the closing laps to salvage a 12th-place result. “I thought I had a flat tire and pitted, because you see all the trouble that is going on (with other drivers having tire issues),” Harvick said. “(We) missed it on the handling a little bit today. We qualified well and had good track position. “That saved us in the beginning of the race, and when I thought I had a flat, just got us behind.” Both Logano and Larson agreed that the final restart of the race on Lap 240 was critical. Logano surged into the lead and, in clean air, was able to keep Larson behind him. “I thought we were pretty equal and were running about the same (lap times) there on the last run,” Larson said. “Just a good finish, and we were so even that I couldn’t do anything. I was hoping I would get a run on him in traffic, and all the lappers were giving us the top, so it kind of made it kind of easy for him to run the top. “Another second and can’t be too disappointed with it. The wins will be coming, so I just have to be patient, and with every time I’m in the top three, it’s just going to make the wins feel that much better.” MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Joey Logano takes the checkered flag at Kansas Speedway to secure a spot in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.