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article imageNASCAR: Logano secures final-eight spot in 'Chase'

By John Duarte     Oct 12, 2015 in Sports
Concord - Joey Logano accomplished something he had never been able to do in his eight-year NASCAR Sprint Cup career and, in doing so, secured his place in the third round of the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Logano led 227 of 334 laps to win the Bank of America 500, on Oct. 11 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a track at which he had never been able to win a race.
“I think it's on everyone's bucket list to win here,” Logano said. “Obviously getting this win at Charlotte means a lot.”
The win also meant Logano automatically qualified for Round Three of the 2015 Chase For the Sprint Cup and secured a place in the final eight who will vie for the NASCAR top-level championship. Under a format established last year, 16 drivers qualify for the run at the title, known as the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and seeded on the Chase grid according to the number of wins, and points accumulated in the standings, each driver got during the regular part of the season. The “playoff” system is divided into four rounds, each of the first three rounds consisting of three races. Three drivers are eliminated at the end of each of the first three rounds, leaving for drivers to race for the championship at the final race of the season, at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 22.
With his sport secured in the third round of series playoff, Logano said he is relieved of the pressure of battling in the next two races in the Contender Round, Kansas and Talladega. He said he is glad to “be able to relax” for two races and concentrate on the next round of the Chase.
“It is special to get through to the next round because the pressure that a lot of these drivers are going to have on them, and we had on us when this race started,” said Logano. “To have that pressure off and be able to have our batteries charged up and ready to attack when we get to the next round, that's going to pay big dividends.”
Logano's closest challenger at the Bank of America 500, on Sunday, was the winner of the previous weekend's race, at Dover, and reigning Sprint Cup champion, Kevin Harvick. Logano battled Harvick and beat him to the finish line by just under a second.
“I think everyone saw how fast he (Harvick) was last week and it probably made a lot of people nervous, but our team kept their heads up and stayed confident,” Logano said.
For his part, Harvick was happy with finishing in second place, making the best of a car that “wasn't great all weekend” and capitalizing on opportunities during the race. “Obviously you want to win,” Harvick said, but it was important to come out of the race with as many points as possible.
“In the end, that's what you want to do on a day like today, and we made it a really good day,” said the race runner up. “With so many guys having trouble, you want to capitalize on a Top-5 run. It was definitely one of those days that could have been better, but could have been a whole lot worse.”
Finishing third in the race was Martin Truex Jr., who said he was optimistic about the first two races in the Contender Round, Charlotte and Kansas, but couldn't put solid runs together and admitted to thinking he'd be lucky to break the Top 15. Truex Jr. said he now heads to Kansas intending to race hard for the win before the round's final race at Talladega Superspeedway, where anything can happen.
“I felt like this round would be good for us, and then after practice I was like, oh, my God, we're struggling. This was honestly the worst weekend we've had all season as far as how I felt about the race car,” he said. “Third is great, but, yeah, I mean, our strategy is we still think we need to win next week (in Kansas). We're going there as hard as we can go with everything we have to try to win just because we know Talladega is that wild card.”
The Contender Round, of the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup continues on Oct. 18 with the Hollywood Casino 400, at Kansas Speedway.
More about Nascar, Sprint cup series, chase for the Sprint cup, joey logano, kevin harvick
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