Logano wins dra­mafilled race at Phoenix

Fi­nal Four set for next week’s race at Homestead

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Jenna Fryer

Af­ter more than three hours of rac­ing, NASCAR’s cham­pi­onship field was de­cided over two fren­zied over­time restarts. In the end, Joey Logano took first and will race for his first Sprint Cup ti­tle.

AVONDALE, ARIZ. >> Af­ter more than three hours of rac­ing, NASCAR’s cham­pi­onship field was de­cided over two fren­zied over­time restarts.

Matt Kenseth prob­a­bly should have won Sun­day to earn an au­to­matic berth into next week’s ti­tle-de­cid­ing race. But the first at­tempt at a two-lap sprint to the fin­ish went hay­wire and Kenseth col­lided with Alex Bow­man.

Just like that, Joey Logano was the new leader and de­fend­ing NASCAR cham­pion Kyle Busch was sec­ond. The two started the day tied in the stand­ings, and any 1-2 fin­ish would put them both in the fi­nal four at Homestead-Mi­ami Speed­way.

Logano won the race — the sec­ond time in this Chase he used a vic­tory in an elim­i­na­tion race to ad­vance — and will race for his first Sprint Cup ti­tle next Sun­day. He’ll be try­ing to give Roger Penske a sea­son sweep dur­ing its 50th an­niver­sary sea­son. Si­mon Pa­ge­naud won the Indy­Car ti­tle in Septem­ber.

“I’ve never felt this good about a win be­fore,” Logano said. “There was so much on the line and every­one brings their A-game when it comes to win­ning cham­pi­onships and this team did it.

“I feel like I just won the Day­tona 500 again.”

Busch fin­ished sec­ond and earned a chance to de­fend last year’s ti­tle. He’ll meet Joe Gibbs Rac­ing team­mate Carl Ed­wards and Jim­mie John­son, who is seek­ing a record-ty­ing sev­enth cham­pi­onship, in Homestead.

JGR, which was try­ing to get all four of its Toy­otas into the fi­nal, wound up with only two and Busch wasn’t feel­ing cel­e­bra­tory. He be­lieved his con­tact with Bow­man trig­gered the ac­ci­dent that wrecked Kenseth’s sea­son.

“It’s re­ally un­for­tu­nate and dev­as­tat­ing to have the race come down like that,” Busch said. “That’s so frus­trat­ing and ag­gra­vat­ing, and I feel hor­ri­ble.”

Elim­i­nated from the play­offs on Sun­day were Kevin Har­vick, an eight­time win­ner at Phoenix who had raced in the last two fi­nales, as well as his Ste­wart-Haas Rac­ing team­mate Kurt Busch. Gibbs driv­ers Kenseth and Denny Ham­lin were also knocked out of the field.

“Dis­ap­point­ing would be the way to put it lightly,” Kenseth said. “Fin­ish that race five min­utes be­fore that, looked like we had a chance to go race for a cham­pi­onship. It was a big swing in 10 or 15 min­utes.”

Ham­lin fin­ished sev­enth af­ter a bizarre de­ci­sion not to pit with the rest of the field for track po­si­tion. Al­though it gave him a brief lead, he was no match for driv­ers with fresh tires.

“I knew it was go­ing to be an up­hill climb,” Ham­lin said.

RALPH FRESO — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Joey Logano cel­e­brates in vic­tory lane af­ter win­ning at Phoenix In­ter­na­tional Race­way Sun­day.

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