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Logano Sweeps Round Two; Junior Inches Short

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 25 2015
Joey Logano edged Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the victory at Talladega on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

Joey Logano edged Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the victory at Talladega on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Joey Logano didn’t need to win Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway to advance to the third round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship but did. Dale Earnhardt Jr. did need to win to advance and didn’t, though determining those results took an extended examination of video by NASCAR officials.

chase 15 logoAs a result of a wild finish Sunday – one which turned chaotic because of a big wreck mid-pack on a green-white-checkered restart just as Earnhardt appeared to be passing Logano for the lead – Earnhardt was ousted from the playoffs.

Team Penske’s Logano won his third straight Chase race and swept the second round of the playoffs.

“This team is unbelievable,” Logano said. “Three in a row. Do you believe that? How does that even happen?”

Earnhardt, who led a race-best 61 laps, finished second. His fans responded by throwing trash onto the track. He responded with typical dignity.

“I was going to win the race for sure,” Earnhardt said. “But the caution came out. I’m fine with
the new rule (which limited the race to just one GWC restart). Per the rules, we ran second and I can live with that. The 22 (Logano) did a great job. He had a hell of a round winning all three races.”

“I’m proud of what we did today. We did everything we needed to do. Just fell a little short, about the width of the splitter and you know how I hate that splitter.”

After an almost hour-long viewing of video, NASCAR determined that those joining Logano in the eight-drver third round of the Chase were Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr.

Not making the cut were Earnhardt, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin.

Gordon, who finished third in his final race at Talladega, was major happy afterward.

“Talladega can surprise you at any time,” the four-time champion said. “I actually had a lot of fun out there.  We had an awesome 3M Chevrolet and it was so much fun battling up front even if we got shuffled back a little bit I was able to drive up through there.  I was really looking forward to working with Dale Jr. there at the end.  When those guys swapped I was like ‘oh man this is going to be tough.’

“I thought maybe my only chance was splitting Joey and getting inside of him and getting three-wide and maybe shuffling him out.  Unfortunately, I had no idea all that crazy stuff that was going on behind me.  I know the first restart or green-white-checkered I just kind of misjudged it and I nailed him (Joey Logano) and almost spun him out and then they started stacking up behind us.  Crazy, absolutely crazy, but boy what a relief; I know my wife who was sick at home was very relieved as well.  We are in that is awesome.”

Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing, who started near the back of the field, lost the pack and on Lap 68 of the 188-lap race, was passed by leader Earnhardt Jr. Seemingly gone at that point was his hope of advancing to the third round.

Chaser Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing was forced to pit on Lap 87 to have his roof hatch taped down. He stayed on the lead lap but lost the pack. The tape which was applied to hold the hatch down, however, did not hold and Hamlin again was ordered to the pits on Lap 94. When he emerged from the pits, Hamlin, who came into Talladega in the best position of the drivers without a win in this round, had fell two laps off the pace.

Earnhardt Jr.’s hopes to win and advance took a hit when he was penalized during green flag stops around Lap 120 when a pit crew member came over the wall too soon. He was running fourth before the penalty. When he returned to the track, he was still on the lead lap but all alone and appeared doomed to fall off the pace.

But on Lap 133, the engine of Justin Allgaier’s car let go to bring out the first caution of the day. As a result, Earnhardt was able to stay on the lead lap and rejoin the pack.

Also as a result of the caution, Truex Jr. got the free pass and he returned to the lead lap. He moved up from there and finished seventh.

“I felt like I was on the seesaw today,” Truex said. “My head was under the back of it. It’s crazy how fast things can change and how much is out of your control. We were sitting out there riding a lap down for about 100 laps thinking that we were going to need an act of God to get back on the lead lap and have a fighting chance. We kept fighting and fighting, and had a good sequence of green-flag stops to establish ourselves in that front single-file line ahead of the guys we were racing. Then we got lucky and got a caution.

“Once we were back in the game, we felt good about it. But it was still nerve-wracking down to the end. The first one, I spun the 48 slap out in front of me, and I was never on the gas pedal. I was on the brake as hard as I could without locking up the front tires. I was getting hit over and over. The 48 got spun and luckily we didn’t get spun out or our day would have been over.”

On Lap 151, Earnhardt, who restarted 16th, completed his comeback as he took the lead. He still had the lead when he headed for the pits for his final green flag stop with 16 laps to go, but on the way in, he locked up the tires.

Forced to change right-side rubber because of that, he rejoined the race 14th. He quickly moved to ninth and with 10 to go, Earnhardt pulled out of line and moved up to fourth before pulling back into the single file line.

Out front – way out front – was Greg Biffle who didn’t pit for gas and was attempting to go the final 50 laps on a single tank.

With five laps to go, the caution flag waved when Jamie McMurray’s engine went up in smoke. That set up the green-white-checkered restart with Logano P1 and Earnhardt next to him on the front row.

Just as the race was about to go green, a wreck in the pack occurred and that restart was aborted.

On the real restart, Logano and Earnhardt were side by side when the caution flag waved.

Asked if he knew he was the leader when the caution flag waved, Logano said, “Yeah, I did. I had a good start and then the 24 (Gordon) was pushing me and the plan worked perfectly but the inside lane started pulling back up. I saw the lights come on when I was still in the lead and I thought we had it. It is all about how the timing loops are and the camera to make sure that is what happened. It is such a crazy race. That were such long green flag runs, you never see that. To pull it into victory lane here at Talladega is so cool.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega

Talladega Superspeedway

Talladega, Alabama

Sunday, October 25, 2015

 

  1. (10) Joey Logano, Ford, 196, $283973.
  2. (5) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 196, $197100.
  3. (1) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 196, $193886.
  4. (11) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 196, $170716.
  5. (15) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 196, $128100.
  6. (13) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 196, $123665.
  7. (43) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 196, $127860.
  8. (29) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 196, $132498.
  9. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 196, $109515.
  10. (14) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 196, $108790.
  11. (16) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 196, $134431.
  12. (18) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 196, $124230.
  13. (33) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 196, $90830.
  14. (26) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 196, $131491.
  15. (7) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 196, $138305.
  16. (25) Aric Almirola, Ford, 196, $129886.
  17. (21) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 196, $113945.
  18. (3) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 196, $132036.
  19. (2) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 196, $102025.
  20. (19) Greg Biffle, Ford, 196, $118233.
  21. (6) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 196, $127350.
  22. (34) Cole Whitt, Ford, 196, $104183.
  23. (35) Bobby Labonte, Ford, 196, $98408.
  24. (23) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 196, $113283.
  25. (12) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 196, $112189.
  26. (4) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 196, $121911.
  27. (20) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 196, $92400.
  28. (27) Michael McDowell, Ford, 195, $81150.
  29. (40) Josh Wise, Ford, 195, $84000.
  30. (22) David Ragan, Toyota, 195, $111539.
  31. (28) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 195, $106328.
  32. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, Accident, 194, $100108.
  33. (37) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, Accident, 194, $89847.
  34. (41) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 194, $80100.
  35. (42) Travis Kvapil(i), Chevrolet, 193, $79925.
  36. (31) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 193, $97770.
  37. (8) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, Accident, 192, $97634.
  38. (30) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 192, $74877.
  39. (24) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, Engine, 182, $100796.
  40. (36) Matt DiBenedetto #, Toyota, 177, $68305.
  41. (32) Timmy Hill(i), Ford, Electrical, 168, $62805.
  42. (39) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, Engine, 130, $66805.
  43. (9) Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, Engine, 84, $55305.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  167.311 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 06 Mins, 58 Secs. Margin of Victory:  Caution.

Caution Flags:  3 for 18 laps.

Lead Changes:  30 among 18 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   J. Gordon 1-7; D. Earnhardt Jr. 8-10; D. Hamlin 11-14; D. Earnhardt Jr. 15; D. Hamlin 16; D. Earnhardt Jr. 17; J. Gordon 18; D. Earnhardt Jr. 19-39; M. Waltrip 40-41; J. Johnson 42-63; D. Earnhardt Jr. 64-79; M. Waltrip 80; D. Ragan 81; P. Menard 82; J. Logano 83-94; C. Bowyer 95-96; K. Harvick 97-100; K. Kahne 101-118; R. Stenhouse Jr. 119-120; G. Biffle 121; J. Johnson 122-133; R. Newman 134; Kurt Busch 135; D. Gilliland 136; M. Kenseth 137-139; Kyle Busch 140-150; D. Earnhardt Jr. 151-169; P. Menard 170; D. Gilliland 171; G. Biffle 172-188; J. Logano 189-196.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  D. Earnhardt Jr. 6 times for 61 laps; J. Johnson 2 times for 34 laps; J. Logano 2 times for 20 laps; G. Biffle 2 times for 18 laps; K. Kahne 1 time for 18 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 11 laps; J. Gordon 2 times for 8 laps; D. Hamlin 2 times for 5 laps; K. Harvick 1 time for 4 laps; M. Kenseth 1 time for 3 laps; M. Waltrip 2 times for 3 laps; C. Bowyer 1 time for 2 laps; R. Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 2 laps; P. Menard 2 times for 2 laps; D. Gilliland 2 times for 2 laps; R. Newman 1 time for 1 lap; D. Ragan 1 time for 1 lap; Kurt Busch 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 16 in Points: J. Logano – 3,142; C. Edwards – 3,115; J. Gordon – 3,113; Kurt Busch – 3,112; B. Keselowski – 3,111; M. Truex Jr. – 3,107; K. Harvick – 3,101; Kyle Busch – 3,098; R. Newman – 3,095; D. Hamlin – 3,090; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 3,083; M. Kenseth – 3,054; J. Johnson – 2,161; J. Mcmurray – 2,159; P. Menard – 2,148; C. Bowyer – 2,123.

 

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 25 2015
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