Joey Logano got the crucial win he needed to secure his place in the Eliminator Round of the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup on Sunday, holding off the surprise challenge of rookie Brian Scott to win the Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Logano led 45 laps on his way to victory, including most of the final part of the race after Penske teammate Brad Keselowski blew an engine whilst dominating the afternoon. Keselowski had led 90 laps when on lap 144, after dropping back to remove some debris from his grille, the engine gave way, immediately knocking one of the championship favourites out of the Chase.
Keselowski wasn’t the only driver to be knocked out in dramatic circumstances. Martin Truex Jr, another favourite to win the title, blew an engine very early in the going, meaning he finished dead last, and the 78 team that many saw as the car to beat, will not be in the Eliminator Round.
One driver who will make the Round of 8 is Denny Hamlin. Hamlin beat Kurt Busch to the line for 3rd by 0.006 seconds, therefore finishing level on points with 9th placed Austin Dillon, knocking Dillon out as a result of having a better finish.
Behind the top 3, Kurt Busch secured his Chase place in 4th, whilst Ricky Stenhouse Jr had a good run to 5th. Kyle Larson was 6th, Kevin Harvick 7th, whilst Aric Almirola made it two RPM cars in the top 10 in 8th. Rounding out the top 10 were the unfortunate Dillon, and AJ Allmendinger.
Chase Elliott was the other driver knocked out at this stage of the Chase. The young rookie had to win the race in order to advance, and whilst he made aggressive moves throughout, could only manage 12th.
Next week, the Eliminator Round kicks off at the half mile Martinsville Speedway, a race that was controversial last season when Matt Kenseth deliberately took Joey Logano out of the race. Both will be looking for better results this time around.
Image – NASCAR.com
|Top 10 Results||2016 Chase Grid|
|1. Joey Logano
2. Brian Scott
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Kurt Busch
5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
6. Kyle Larson
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Aric Almirola
9. Austin Dillon
10. AJ Allmendinger