news joey logano wins at vegas punches first ticket to nascar cup series championship 4
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Joey Logano wins at Vegas, punches first ticket to NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4

joey logano
Joey Logano celebrates his win at the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Photo: Getty Images/NASCAR

Joey Logano became the first driver to secure a position in the Championship 4 with a surge to the checkered flag in the final laps of Sunday’s South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The other big story of the day was the wreck that took playoff contender Christopher Bell out of the running.

Defending series champ Kyle Larson and Bubba Wallace, who won Stage 1 on Sunday, were involved in the first action in that wreck, with Larson’s No. 5 Chevy forcing Wallace to the outside wall.

Wallace’s No. 45 Toyota bounced down off the wall and then he drove into Larson’s car, spinning both – with Bell getting tagged by Larson’s spinning Chevy in the aftermath.

After Wallace and Larson’s cars came to rest in the infield, Wallace took his helmet off and marched toward Larson, who was just getting out of his car.

The two exchanged words and Wallace pushed Larson multiple times before walking away.

“You get shoved into the fence deliberately like he did trying to force me to lift, the steering was gone,’’ Wallace said. “He just happened to be there.

“Hate it for our team. Super fast car. Larson wanted to make a three-wide dive bomb, but never cleared me, and I don’t lift. I know I’m kinda new running at the front, but I don’t lift, was never in a spot to lift and he never lifted either. Now we’re junk. Just piss poor move on his execution. He knows what he did was wrong. He never cleared me and just hate it for my team,” Wallace said.

Larson said he didn’t hit Wallace intentionally.

“I knew he was going to retaliate,’’ Larson said. “He had reason to be mad, but his race wasn’t over until he retaliated. It is what it is. Just aggression turned into frustration, and he retaliated. I know he’s probably still upset but I’m sure with everything going on he’ll know he made a mistake in the retaliation part and I’m sure he’ll think twice about it next time.”

The wreck also ruined the afternoon for Bell, who had won an elimination race just last week to advance to the Round of 8. His Joe Gibbs Racing team was unable to repair his No. 20 Toyota, and he pulled off track, finishing 34th in the 36-car field – worst among the eight Playoff drivers.

Logano, on fresh tires, rallied back through the field following a late-race pit stop, passing Ross Chastain for the lead with three laps remaining and driving off to his third win at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas high banks – a slight .817-second ahead of Chastain, who led a race best 68 of the 267 laps on the afternoon.

“Let’s go get a championship, baby,’’ the 2018 series champion Logano screamed into his team radio after taking the checkered flag in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford.

That pit stop for Logano with 26 laps remaining dropped him from a top-10 position on track, but the fresh tires were the difference in making up ground on the leaders who did not pit.

And Logano went forward quickly.

“What a great car, the Penske cars were all fast today,” said Logano, who now has three wins in 2022 and 30 in his 15-year career in NASCAR’s top series.

“Oh, man, all you want to do is get to the Championship 4 before the season starts and race for the championship, and we’ve got the team to do it. I don’t see why we can’t win it at this point. Things are looking really good for us.”

Kyle Busch, who had some pit road issues, finished third, followed by a pair of Playoff drivers, Chase Briscoe and Denny Hamlin, who rounded out the top five. It was an especially impressive performance for Hamlin, who started 31st.

William Byron and Chase Elliott had frustrating and disappointing days, finishing 13th and 21st, respectively. Ryan Blaney, who won Stage 2 and led 39 laps, finished 28th after hitting the wall late in the race.

“When you perform that poorly you get poor results, that’s how it works,’’ Elliott said of his day.

Elliott went into this three-race round leading the standings, and after Vegas has dropped to third in the championship, 17 points above the cutoff line. Logano earned the automatic advancement Sunday, and Chastain is now in second place, 18 points up.

Hamlin’s top five was good enough to move him into that important fourth place in the championship – six points up on Byron. The 4 “Bs” are now all in the bottom half of the Playoff points. Briscoe is nine points behind Hamlin, Blaney 11 back and Bell is 23 points off the pace.

Playoff action resumes next weekend with Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). William Byron won the 2021 Homestead race, which was held in February last year.

Staff/Wire

Staff/Wire

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