Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Joey Logano Tracks Down Ross Chastain, Captures ‘Championship Four’ Berth with Las Vegas Win

Joey Logano made an incredible late-race move on Ross Chastain to pick up his third victory of the season, and lock himself into the Championship Four event at Phoenix Raceway. PC: Lesley Ann Miller | LAT Images | Courtesy of Ford Performances

Joey Logano started the season with a win in the Busch Light Clash at LA Memorial Coliseum, the first-ever event with the NextGen car. Now, at the season’s end, Logano is looking to be the first champion with the new car.

The chances of that happening for the Middletown, Connecticut-native have dramatically increased, following a pass for the lead on Ross Chastain in the closing laps of Sunday’s South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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Logano, much like his teammates at Team Penske, proved to have extremely fast cars all throughout the weekend at the 1.5-mile facility, speed that translated into Sunday’s 400-mile event for all three entries.

Though Cindric led eight laps early in the race before fading outside the top five, both Blaney and Logano were able to keep their track position inside the top-five, which paid off as the race ascended into its late-race action.

A rash of late-race cautions, which was initially triggered by second-place runner Ryan Blaney crashing off of turn two, left things up in the air for the field in terms of strategy, a situation which multiple teams took advantage of.

Justin Haley and crew chief Trent Owens, who had been running from ninth to 15th throughout the entire event, chose to take on only two tires with under 40 laps to go, netting the Kaulig Racing team the lead of the event.

Less than 10 laps after the restart, things had been scrambled around due to some near crashes on the restart, a spin by Daniel Suarez would force the field to re-rack and do it once more, with playoff-eligible driver Chase Briscoe leading the race.

For some background, Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team were awful in the opening run of the event, running as low as 28th in the race’s first stage, in which time they were put a lap down by the leader at that time, Bubba Wallace.

After getting the free pass during the first stage break, Briscoe and co. methodically slithered up the running order, before finding themselves inside the top-10 as the race ended, and eventually into the top-five battling for the lead.

However, Briscoe’s car just wasn’t as quick as his competitors who had been running at the front throughout the race, eventually losing the lead to Ross Chastain who quickly set sail to a lead of nearly two seconds.

Although, in the closing stages of the run, a mix of lapped traffic and some fall-off in Chastain’s Trackhouse Racing entry, the field started to quickly close on the leader, with Logano getting around Briscoe for the runner-up spot with less than 10 to go.

Over the closing laps, Logano quickly erased the one-second deficit to Chastain, before scooting around the first-time Playoff contender with three laps to go, after the Trackhouse driver made a triumphant attempt at blocking Logano’s advances.

The 32-year-old would quickly extend his lead to more than eight-tenths of a second in the final three laps of the race, capturing his third victory of the year, and the 30th of his NASCAR Cup Series career.

Despite an intense challenge from Kyle Busch, which saw the No. 18 make significant contact with the turn four wall on the final lap of the event, Ross Chastain would hold onto second place over Kyle Busch, who finished third.

Somehow, Chase Briscoe would hold on to secure a fourth-place finish, for his second top-five result in the last four NASCAR Cup Series events. However, the rebound ensures that Briscoe heads to Homestead-Miami having not lost any ground.

Denny Hamlin rebounded from a horrible starting spot in Sunday’s race to record a top-five result, marking four of the top-five drivers that are still eligible for the championship at season’s end.

Polesitter Tyler Reddick finished in sixth after leading 32 laps, while Martin Truex Jr, Erik Jones, AJ Allmendinger, and Austin Dillon completed the top-10.

While there may have been some tension between Chastain and Busch after the race, it didn’t even chart in comparison to the tension between Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson that was exhibited on Sunday.

After Larson shoved Wallace into the outside wall, it looked as though the 23XI Racing hooked a left and right-reared Larson into the outside wall, which collected NASCAR Playoff contender Christopher Bell, who had nothing to do with the initial beef.

Wallace then climbed from his No. 45 Toyota Camry and marched across the front straightaway to where Larson’s car came to rest, before giving him a hefty shove to show his displeasure.

For the NASCAR Cup Series drivers, the next opportunity to claw their way into victory lane will be at fan-favorite facility Homestead-Miami Speedway, where the series will convene for the penultimate race of the ‘Round of 8’.

Joseph Srigley
Joseph Srigley
University of Windsor | Business Administration - Supply Chain & Data Analytics Editor at

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