The action-packed race ended with Team Penske on top once again.
Joey Logano starred at the Kansas Speedway on Sunday, winning the Hollywood Casino 400, the first event of the three-race Contender Round toward the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Driving the Shell Pennzoil Ford, Logano ran at or near the front of the 43-car field, leading 122 of the 267 laps around the 1.5-mile oval.
Logano won for the fifth time in 2014 and for second time in the Chase. In his short Sprint Cup career, the young driver has chalked up eight victories.
Said the victor, “It was a crazy race, and it is awesome to be back in victory lane. I had such a fast Pennzoil Ford. When the top (of track) opened up, the car just took off. Me and the No. 42 (Kyle Larson) were the only ones that seemed to be able to run up there. We had a cat and mouse (with Larson) during portions of the late run. I just had to be able to work the traffic and keep my momentum up. We just have to keep capitalizing going forward.”
With the win, Logano gains a spot in the next round of the Chase.
Larson impresses once again
Rookie sensation Larson hounded Logano in the closing laps, coming up short by a mere .480 seconds. He drove the Target Chevrolet. For the season, he now has 15 top-10 finishes.
It was Russian Roulette and it was just our turn.
Keselowski on tire issues
“Second place seems to be the story of my stock-car career,” the young driver said. “My guys worked so hard all week, even though we didn’t start off so well. I did think that me and Joey (Logano) were definitely the two best cars. We were so even at end, and it was hard for me to gain any ground on him. Lap after lap we were the same (speed), and it was fun. I had fun today but just came up a little bit short. My Target Chevrolet was good and we just have to keep digging, and those wins will come.”
Busch breaks the Kansas curse
Kyle Busch ended up third with Martin Truex Jr. and Carl Edwards behind him.
Busch rebounded from a pit-road speeding penalty for a strong finish. Said Busch, “It was a good day, and I can’t say enough about the effort of my bunch. They listened to my feedback, and we got the pieces in place that we needed. All race long we kept up with the pace, but those first two guys just checked out on us. I had nothing for them, as they were flying. We were a good 6th or 7th place car but circumstances worked in our favor.”
Late in the going Busch reported all was not well with his car but he managed to bring home the Toyota without difficulty.
Rest of the top ten
The next five finishers were Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, rookie Austin Dillon, Paul Menard and Brian Vickers.
Chasers encounter issues
Several of the Chase contenders had off days with Hendrick Motorsport teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. 39th and Jimmie Johnson 40th.
Kevin Harvick ran strong throughout much of the fray until coming in with a perceived tire problem, to end up 12th after leading 61 laps.
After spinning out in qualifications, Johnson started far back in 32nd and while running in 22nd, he got caught up in a wreck with Greg Biffle and slamming into an inner wall. After his team made substantive repairs, he returned to race far off pace. He finished 87 laps in arrears.
Earnhardt suffered a blown tire while leading, ending his time at the front. He did return to race but was 63 laps behind at the end.
Brad Keselowski suffered a tire woe, ending up 36th. Said the former champion, "It was Russian Roulette and it was just our turn. We didn’t have an aggressive setup or anything, we just blew the tire.”
In Chase points, Logano leads Busch by six with Edwards and Newman nine behind with Hamlin back by 11 and Harvick by 15.
Eight caution flags slowed the action for 34 laps. Nine drivers swapped the lead spot on 25 occasions.