Joey Logano won the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon following a hectic battle with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth, giving the Team Penske driver his second consecutive win in the Contender round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Many fans would have picked Kenseth to win at Kansas after the Toyota driver led a race-high 153 laps of the 1.5-mile track, however as the race wore on, it became clear Logano’s Ford was the faster car. After briefly losing the lead, Kenseth re-took the spot from Team Chevy’s Jimmie Johnson on Lap 248 and quickly found himself defending the position from Logano.
As the two roared onto the front straight they came upon slower lapped traffic, which forced Kenseth to block Logano on the outside. Logano, with no where to go, then began hugging the back of Kenseth’s bumper as they entered Turn 1, sending Kenseth’s Toyota spinning as Logano took the lead on the inside. Kenseth was able to keep his car from hitting the wall, however he went on to finish outside the top 10 in 14th.
“It was really cut and dry,” Kenseth told NASCAR.com. “He (Logano) picked my rear tires off the ground and wrecked me, so there’s no debate about that one… He was a little bit tighter on that short run than I was, and I couldn’t get away from him.
“All day we had him pretty good. I still thought I was going to be able to stay in front of him and saw those lapped cars coming and tried getting a couple runs off the top there and I was plenty clear, got up in front of him and he just decided to take us out.”
Logano saw things differently. He recognized Kenseth’s block as an overly aggressive maneuver and told NASCAR.com that if Kenseth is going to race him hard, he’s going to race him hard back. No matter their opinions on the situation, the result leaves Kenseth in a must-win situation as NASCAR heads to Talladega next week for the third race of the 12-driver Contender round.
Kenseth wasn’t the only Chase driver that took a potentially fatal blow to his Sprint Cup bid. Dale Earnhardt Jr. went a lap down on Lap 165 after being forced to stop for a loose wheel and ended up 21st, also putting him in a must-win situation for Talladega.
The rest of the Chase field finished ahead of Earnhardt, with Kevin Harvick 16th, Martin Truex Jr. 15th, Ryan Newman 11th, Jeff Gordon 10th, Brad Keselowski ninth, Carl Edwards eighth, Kurt Busch sixth and Denny Hamlin second. Non-Chase contender Jimmie Johnson was third, Chevy’s highest finishing driver.