Joey Logano took the third win in Contender Round at Talladega

  • Joey Logano at 2015 Camping World Talladega

Joey Logano conquered the third race in Contender Round, the 196 laps long CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, thus confirming his dominant performance in the second round of the Chase. However, the win was overshadowed by a controversial big crash which was caused by Kevin Harvick on the green-white-checkered finish. The race started at 2:41pm local time under cloudy sky with Jeff Gordon on pole, followed by two of his Hendrick Motorsport teammates Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson. Matt Kenseth started the race from fourth, followed by Dale Jr. on fifth. Gordon held his position until lap 10 when he was overtaken by Dale Jr for the lead. Hamlin took the lead on lap 12, losing it to Dale Jr. on lap 16. However, he retaliated on lap 17, taking the top spot again. Gordon returned to the lead on lap 18, but lost it to Dale Jr. on lap 20. A series of green flag pit stops started on lap 38 and Dale Jr. pitted on lap 40, handing over the lead to Michael Waltrip. As Waltrip pitted, the lead went to Jimmie Johnson. Austin Dillon and Aric Almirola were issued penalties for a tire violation and speeding.

Jimmie Johnson was holding onto the lead despite having debris on his grill since lap 56, and Dale Jr. returned to the first place on lap 65. On lap 78, the second round of green flag pit stops began and Logano took the lead on lap 84 when he overtook Paul Menard. On the same lap, Denny Hamlin had issues with his escape roof hatch. On lap 96, it was Clint Bowyer who managed to pass Logano for the lead, but two laps later, Kevin Harvick claimed the position. On lap 102, Kasey Kahne took the lead, but lost it on lap 119 when he decided to pit. The lead went to Dale Jr. but he was served a drive-through penalty because of his crew being out earlier. Dale Jr. managed to evade going lap down when the first caution of the race flew for Justin Allgaier whose engine stalled. Having decided not to pit, Ryan Newman claimed the lead. As he pitted, the lead cycled to Kurt Busch, David Gilliland and then Matt Kenseth.

With 49 laps to go, the race restarted and in the next lap, Kyle Busch overtook Kenseth for the lead. With 37 to go, Dale Jr. retook the leading position and hit the pits with 19 to go, handing over the lead to Paul Menard. The lead cycled to Gilliland and then Greg Biffle. In the final laps Biffle built up a huge lead, but fortune turned its back on him with five laps to go, when Jamie McMurray’s engine let go, which caused a yellow flag. The caution period was enough for Logano and the rest of the pack to get close to Biffle and in the very finish, Logano overtook him, winning the race in a green white checkered finish with a big pileup behind him caused by Kevin Harvick, possibly on purpose, in order for him to stay in the Chase.

Logano was closely followed by Dale Jr. who missed his chance to stay in the Chase and Jeff Gordon, with Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards completing the top five. Besides Logano who dominated the Contender Round, Edwards, Gordon, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr. Harvick and Kyle Busch stayed in the Chase.

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