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article imageNASCAR: Logano goes three-for-three in Contender Round

By John Duarte     Oct 25, 2015 in Sports
Talladega - Joey Logano, his car and his team are firing on all cylinders as the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season draws to a close.
On Sunday, Logano etched his name in the NASCAR record book winning his third-straight Sprint Cup Series race, thereby sweeping the Contender Round in the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Logano became the first driver to win all three races in a round since NASCAR adopted the playoff-like championship format. While sweeping the Contender Round is sitting well with Logano, that is hardly cause to sit back and ride the momentum.
“We want the big trophy at the end of the year,” he said. “we want to win every trophy in between, but we want the big one at the end of the season.”
Despite putting together a convincing run in the Contender Round, Logano knows the challenge ahead is huge. He does admit his confidence his high and heads into the Eliminator Round with one goal in mind — to continue doing exactly what he has been doing.
Under the format implemented a few years back, the Chase for the Sprint Cup is divided into four rounds with the field of 16 drivers pared down by four at the end of the first three rounds. The final four drivers then battle for the title in the final race of the season. Also, at the end of each round, the points in the standings are reset for the remaining drivers in the Chase.
For Logano, that means that after three-consecutive wins, he is level with the other seven drivers ready to take up the Chase on Sunday at Martinsville, Virginia.
“We got momentum and we're relaxed. We just got to keep going out there and do what we know what to do,” said Logano after his first win at Talladega Superspeedway. “What we've shown here, this last round is a big deal, but the fact of the matter is we're back at zero again.”
Something of note always happens at Talladega Superspeedway and Sunday's 500 was no different. Logano crossed the finish line to an echo of boos from the crown, which was heavily skewed on the side of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Racing in Earnhardt country, Dale Jr. was not able to pull of the win he needed to continue his chase of the Sprint Cup. He finished second.
“When the race is over, I can live with the result as long as everyone else is going by the same rules,” he said. “I felt like per the rule book, it sorted out and I finished second. I'm OK with that.”
Earnhardt Jr. was beside Logano as the field lined up with two laps remaining in the race. As the all were prepared to go back to racing and prepared for green-white-checkered finish, chaos broke out a few rows back and the caution flag flew again. Logano crossed the finish line, to set the field, mere inches ahead of. Earnhardt Jr.
Jeff Gordon was third at the 500.
The final wreck didn't pass without controversy however. Several drivers in the field felt reigning champion Kevin Harvick triggered the accident on purpose.
“(He) knew he was blowing up and told everybody he was going to stay in his lane,” said Matt Kenseth, who finished 26th and was eliminated from the Chase. “It just feels like we kind of lost control of the situation.”
Also critical of Harvick's tactics was Denny Hamlin, who, like his teammate Kenseth, was eliminated. Hamlin pointed the finger directly at Harvick.
“(Harvick) could only run abut 30 miles an hour. I think he saw people coming and he knew he was probably going to be 30th, the last car on the lead lap,” Hamlin said. “He caused the wreck.”
Hamlin was still fuming later, when he addressed the incident further on Twitter.
“What a joke. We have a car with no motor wreck the field to end the race,” Hamlin tweeted. “Complete crap. Sorry to anyone who spent $ coming to this circus.”
Logano, Gordon and Harvick are joined by Carl Edwards, Kurt and Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. as the eight drivers taking part in the Eliminator Round.
Along with Earnhardt Jr., Kenseth and Hamlin, Ryan Newman was also eliminated from further contention in the 2015 Chase.
Four races remain in the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup. The first of the four is the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500, at Martinsville Speedway, in Virginia, on Nov. 1. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule closes at Homestead-Miami Speedway, with the crowning of the 2015 champion, on Nov. 22.
More about Nascar, Sprint cup series, chase for the Sprint cup, joey logano, Talladega superspeedway
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