Logano wins in Las Vegas to clinch a spot in the NASCAR title race

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Joey Logano became the first driver to qualify for a NASCAR championship finale using fresh tires to chase down Ross Chastain for the win Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“We’re racing for the championship! Let’s go!” Logano screamed to the crowd. Logano is NASCAR’s 2018 champion and has advanced to the title-deciding final for the fifth time in his career.

Logano used a late pit stop for new tires in Team Penske’s bid to give him a chance at victory. The new Goodyears helped him gain six current places after the restart, but his Ford was still eighth on the last start with 16 laps remaining.

Chase Briscoe again took the lead ahead of Justin Haley and Chastain, with Chastain taking advantage of a sweeping three-wide pass at the bottom of the track to take the lead. Chastain had a decent gap on the field, but Logano raced to the front.

Chastain successfully fended off Logano in the blocks several times, but Logano eventually pulled away with Chastain on the front with three laps remaining to take the lead and earn his third win of the season.

“Joey made a good run through the field,” said Chastain, who finished second in the Chevrolet for Trackhouse Racing.

Kyle Busch, who was eliminated from the playoffs in the first round, finished third in the Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Briscoe was fourth in the Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, followed by Denny Hamlin, another playoff driver, in the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Hamlin started 31st, the worst playoff driver, and saved his title hopes by finishing in the top five.

The race was the first of three in this round of NASCAR’s playoffs. The eight remaining drivers will be whittled down to four for the winner-takes-all finale in Phoenix next month.

With the stakes so high, the race was full of tension from the start and even included a near fight between Bubba Wallace and reigning NASCAR champion Kyle Larson.

The dustup between Wallace and Larson collected Christopher Bell, who won last week in Charlotte to advance to this round of the playoffs and now sits last in the standings after finishing 34th.

“We’ll see if we can pull another rabbit out of the hat,” Bell said.

Joining Bell below the cut line for elimination was William Byron, who pitted from 11th before the final restart in the hope that fresh tires would give him a better finish, but the Hendrick Motorsports driver finished just 13th.

Briscoe and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney are sandwiched between Byron and Bell below the cut line. Blaney led 39 laps but hit the wall with what appeared to be a tire failure. He finished 28th, seven laps down.

Logano is locked in the final, while Chastain, Hamlin and regular season champion Chase Elliott are above the cut line. Elliott finished 21st in an uninspiring performance in his Hendrick Motorsports entry.

“I did really bad all weekend,” Elliott said. “Everything around me is bad effort, and when you do it bad, you get bad results.”


Kyle Busch spun at his home track, had a tire fall off his Toyota and will likely end his Joe Gibbs Racing career without his crew chief.

Still finished third.

Ben Beshore will likely receive an automatic four-race suspension as punishment for removing a tire from Busch’s car late in the race. The crowd cheered for Busch’s failure even though Las Vegas is his home track.

With three races left in the season, Busch is leaving JGR after 15 seasons. He has signed a contract with Richard Childress Racing for next season.


NASCAR races at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the middle race of the third round of the playoffs. William Byron won at Homestead last year, when the course was scheduled as the third event of the season.


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