Sylvania 300 Victory for Logano, Team Penske Leads Chase
Team Penske is leading the pack in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, with Brad Keselowki on 2097 points and Joey Logano on 2096. Logano took the checkered flag in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, with his #22 Ford leading 73 laps, including the final 30 laps, of the race. Teammate Keselowski came in at seventh place on Sunday, nonetheless retaining the top spot in the standings. Kyle Larson took second place in the Sylvania 300, with Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray and Jimmie Johnson in third, fourth and fifth place respectively. The upcoming AAA400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28 will decide which four of the sixteen Chase drivers will be eliminated.
As his fourth victory of the season (and seventh in his career), Logano enters into the second elimination round in the new NASCAR format. Observers note that taking four tires on Lap 247 may have given Logano an edge, but after restarting 16th on Lap 251, he sped past Harvick and Keselowski on the Lap 274 restart to take the lead. In a post-race interview Logano noted that New Hampshire is his home race track and “the coolest place to win for me”.
Sunday’s race at New Hampshire featured 15 caution flags, and quite a number of drivers battled with mechanical failures and other issues. Having led 32 laps, Denny Hamlin’s #11 Toyota experienced a fueling problem which knocked him back four laps, and his efforts were further hampered when he was caught up in a multicar wreck on the 181st lap.
When the race ended, five Chase contenders were outside the top 20 – Kasey Kahne (23rd), Denny Hamlin (37th), Matt Kenseth (21st), Kurt Busch (36th) and Jeff Gordon (26th) – but remain in the running. Aric Almirola bounced back from his setback with engine failure at Chicagoland Speedway last week to finish in sixth place, keeping his Chase contender status.