- LOGANO WINS DRAMATIC ROUND OF 8 OPENER IN CONTROVERSIAL FINISH; TEXAS UP NEXT FOR THE AAA TEXAS 500
Here’s a weekly glance at the four-round, elimination-style Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs that make a stop at Texas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500, the middle race of the Round of 8.
Brief recaps of the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series Playoffs also are included as both series will compete at Texas as part of the NASCAR Playoffs tripleheader weekend. The NCWTS Round of 6 Playoff race is Friday night’s JAG Metals 350 and the Xfinity Series Round of 8 Playoff race is Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.
Playoff Field: The eight-driver field competing in the three-race Round of 8 consists of defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing; Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports; Joey Logano of Team Penske; 2014 champ Kevin Harvick, 2004 champ Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola of Stewart-Haas Racing; and 2015 series champ Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing.
Race Recap: Logano dominated Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway, but it still took a bump-and-run move of race leader Truex Jr. on the final lap to secure the win and an automatic berth in the Championship 4 title race.
Logano led 309 of the 500 laps, but found himself in a dramatic side-by-side battle with Truex Jr. in the waning laps. Truex Jr. finally wrestled the lead from Logano on the penultimate lap, but the Team Penske driver pulled a bump-and-run move in Turns 3 and 4 that caused contact and near calamity as the two cars locked together as they approached the finish line.
Logano hung on for the win while Truex Jr. fell to third after being edged out by Denny Hamlin following the contact.
“Some are going to like it and haters are going to hate a little bit, but I’m a hard racer,” said Logano, who collected his second win of the season and first since April at Talladega. “I don’t think that’s a secret to anyone. We’re here to win a championship this year.”
You can count Truex Jr. among the haters of that move.
“I was next to him for six laps,” Truex Jr. said. “I never knocked him out of the way. We were going to race hard for it in my book. I cleared him fair and square. We weren’t even banging doors for me to pass him. He just drove into the back of me and knocked me out of the way. It’s short-track racing, but what goes around comes around.”
Countered Logano: “We raced hard there. He raced really clean, and I laid the bumper to him, so I don’t expect him to be happy. We had to do what we’ve got to do, and maybe there’s something he’s got to do, and we’ll hash it out, I’m sure, one way or another. But that was our shot. It may be our only shot, so we had to make it happen.”
While Logano has secured a Championship 4 berth and Truex Jr. looking to do the same in the next two races, the defending series champ is not going to forget the way Logano raced him anytime soon.
“He may have won the battle, but he ain’t winning the damn war,” Truex Jr. said. “That’s it. I’m not letting him – I’m going to win the championship.”
Four other NASCAR Playoff contenders joined Logano and Truex Jr. among the top 10 with Kyle Busch finishing fourth, Kurt Busch sixth, Elliott seventh and Harvick 10th. Almirola and Bowyer, the other two contenders in the Round of 8, finished 11th and 21st, respectively.
Click https://goo.gl/wFLgdy for the race recap at NASCAR.com.
How They Stand: With the victory, Logano has secured one of the four berths in the Championship 4 title race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 18. A victory in a Round of 8 race by a championship-contending driver advances him to the Championship 4 finale and the remaining positions to advance are based off points earned in those three races. Four more drivers will be eliminated from championship contention following the Round of 8. The points following Martinsville have Kyle Busch (+46 above cutline), Truex Jr. (+25) and Harvick (+25) above the cutline. Below the cutline are Kurt Busch (-25), Elliott (-31), Bowyer (-42) and Almirola (-50).
Next Up: The Round of 8 moves to Texas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 (2 p.m. CT, TV: NBC Sports Network, Radio: PRN, SiriusXM, 95.9 FM The Ranch locally).
Coming Soon: The Round of 8 concludes Sunday, Nov. 11, with the Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway in Phoenix (1:30 p.m. CT, TV: NBC, Radio: SiriusXM, MRN). Phoenix serves as the elimination race to determine which four drivers will head to the Ford EcoBoost 400 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 19, (TV: NBC, Radio: SiriusXM, MRN) to vie for the series championship.
Xfinity Series Playoff Update: The series was idle this past weekend and returns to action with Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. CT, TV: NBC Sports Network, Radio: PRN, SiriusXM). John Hunter Nemechek, a non-playoff contender, won the Round of 8 opener at Kansas so all four championship berths remain available. The four drivers currently above the cutline are Elliott Sadler (+14 better than fifth place), Daniel Hemric (+13), Tyler Reddick (+11) and Christopher Bell (+1). They are followed by Matt Tifft (-1 back of fourth), Justin Allgaier (-5), Cole Custer (-23) and Austin Cindric (-43).
Camping World Truck Series Playoff Update: Johnny Sauter won Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway to earn an automatic berth in the NCWTS Championship 4 title race. Sauter was dominant in the Round of 6 opener as he led 148 of 200 laps and swept the race stages for his sixth win of the season. Playoff contender Brett Moffitt finished second while fellow contenders Justin Haley (6th) and Noah Gragson (7th) secured top-10 finishes. Sauter has locked in one of the four championship berths with Gragson (+24), Moffitt (+15) and Grant Enfinger (+2) currently above the cutline. Justin Haley is two below the cutline and Matt Crafton is 10.The series heads to Texas Motor Speedway, which will play host to the second of three Round of 6 races on Friday with the JAG Metals 350 (7:30 p.m. CT, TV: FOX Sports 1, Radio: MRN).
Note-While the championship fields are reduced by virtue of elimination in each of the rounds, each race continues to have a full field competin