Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway was the coldest race in the Cup Series since the spring race at Martinsville in 2015.
Joey Logano came into this race needing a strong result to help his chances at making the Championship Four in Phoenix. He did so, holding off Kevin Harvick to clinch a berth in Phoenix and winning his third race of the season.
Chase Elliott, last week’s winner at Charlotte Roval, started in the lead as second place was constantly shuffling between Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick. Harvick ended up securing second place heading into the competition caution, and Hamlin passed Logano for third.
Martin Truex Jr. struggled as he fell to 22nd on the first few laps. He headed into the competition caution 13th. Busch picked up a speeding penalty on pit road and dropped to the rear.
Harvick took the lead over Elliott on the restart. However, Elliott took the lead back with 16 laps to go in stage one as Harvick was losing rear grip. Brad Keselowski passed Harvick for second with seven laps left in the first stage. Elliott held off Keselowski for the stage win as Harvick slipped to seventh at the end of the stage.
Denny Hamlin started stage two in the lead over Elliott and Ryan Blaney. As green-flag pit stops were occurring with 17 laps left in stage two, Matt Kenseth crashed, bringing out the caution. Elliott, who had communication problems throughout the race, pitted when he was told to stay out, took two tires. Elliott restarted seventh as Hamlin restarted in the lead, followed by Blaney.
The end of stage two saw an intense battle between Hamlin and Harvick with Hamlin coming out on top. Hamlin won his 10th stage of the season.
On the final stage restart, Logano started in the lead as he only took two tires on pit road. However, Harvick tracked him down and passed him two laps later. With 85 laps left in the race, Hamlin contacted the wall, forcing him to pit. Busch saw his engine go up in smoke with 69 laps left, bringing out the first incident-related caution of the race. Busch had to retire his car, ending his day early.
Harvick restarted in the lead followed by the three Team Penske drivers. The caution came out for Tyler Reddick with 46 laps left in the race, bringing out drivers down pit road for fuel to get to the end of the race. Logano restarted in the lead with 42 laps left.
Logano and Harvick engaged in a fierce battle as the race came to and end. With blocking an lap traffic, Logano was just able to hold off Harvick, winning his third race of the season, his first since the last Phoenix race in March. Alex Bowman had a good run at the end but could not pass Harvick or Logano at the end.
Playoff driver finishes:
Joey Logano – 1st
Kevin Harvick – 2nd
Alex Bowman – 3rd
Brad Keselowski – 4th
Chase Elliott – 6th
Martin Truex Jr. – 9th
Denny Hamlin – 15th
Kurt Busch – 38th
The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the second Round of 8 race next Sunday.