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article imageNASCAR: Logano fights off Harvick to win at Bristol

By John Duarte     Aug 23, 2015 in Sports
Bristol - Joey Logano would not be denied Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway and powered his way to victory at the Irwin Tools Night Race, his third win of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Logano celebrated in Victory Lane for the second time in three races, but not from the lack of trying by defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick, who pushed him to the brink for 63 laps. With Harvick taking the high line on the track, Logano would watch his pursuer pull within striking distance in the corners and fade back on the straightaways.
“It's so interesting how we ran such different lines and be the same speed on the race track,” the winner said. “It was just all about working the lapped traffic at the end, not making mistakes and not getting bottled up in traffic and letting him get by.”
Normally cool and collected, Harvick showed a hint of frustration saying he couldn't get to perform as he wanted in the corners, which allowed Logano to pull away on the exits to get a run on the straightaways. Harvick said he felt his car was better in clean air, but never could get close enough to make the pass on Logano.
“I felt like, and in clean air we probably were a little faster, but it didn't really matter. I had to be in front of him to show that,” said Harvick. “All in all, he was just one step ahead of me in traffic.”
As the checkered flag waved overhead, Logano breathed a sigh of relief that he was ahead of his competitor, even if only by 0.22 seconds.
“Racing Kevin Harvick clean like that at the end was a lot of fun,” Logano said. “It was a very exciting last 20, 30 laps for sure, and neat to be able to get a checkered flag again here at Bristol.”
Despite the fact he likes racing Harvick, Logano said that, at the end of the day, he is racing with only one goal in mind — to get to Victory Lane.
“I don't care who the heck I'm racing, I'll tell you that right now;” he said. “There's 42 other drivers out there that are really, really good, and a lot of them are capable of winning a race. I don't care who it is, I'm going to race them hard for the win.”
Watching it all unfold ahead of him was Denny Hamlin. The third-place finisher in the race said he had “a very average car” which was good early in the race, then lost it and got it back for the final run.
“We got better there at the end, but we still just didn't have the speed to run with the front two guys on that last run,” Hamlin said. “Just a decent average day. Definitely not what we expected.”
Logano was out in front for a total of 176 of the race's 500 laps, which was second only to Kyle Busch's race-high 192 laps led. Busch was not happy on Lap 432 when he was caught speeding on pit lane and was sent to the back of the field. Busch, who has won four times this year, is fighting to remain in the Top 30 in the drivers standings. NASCAR granted Busch a waiver after he missed the first 11 races of the season recuperating from serious leg and foot injuries. Busch could qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup provided he met all other criteria and finished among the Top 30 drivers. On Saturday night, Busch made his way through the field after the penalty and finished the race in eighth place to solidify his current 29th place.
Five drivers keep their tenuous grip on the final places on the list of 16 who will make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. These five are the ones without wins this season and must qualify for the 10-race playoff for the Sprint Cup title, which starts in a month's time at Chicagoland Speedway. The most precarious spots on the Chase grid belong to Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer, who sit 15th and 16th respectively. Wins in the final two races by anyone outside the grid standings could put one, or both, out of contention.
NASCAR nation takes a week off before drivers make their final assault on qualifying for the Chase. Next on the schedule is the Bojangles' Southern 500, at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina on Sept. 6, followed by the Federated Auto Parts 400, at Virginia's Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 12. The Chase for the Sprint Cup begins at Chicagoland Speedway, on Sept. 20, and ends with the crowning of a champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 22.
More about Nascar, Sprint cup series, joey logano, kevin harvick, Bristol Motor Speedway
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