NASCAR: Logano dominated Bank of America 500

  • Joey Logano, 2015 NASCAR Bank of America 500

Due to heavy rain, Bank of America 500 was delayed to Sunday 12:30PM local time and was dominated by Joey Logano in what was his first win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Many Chase drivers weren’t lucky, namely Dale Jr. and Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch. This time, the weather was warm and racers were ready for the first race of the second round of the chase, the 334-lap long 500 mile battle. Matt Kenseth was on pole, followed by Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Biffle was on fourth, with Hamlin and Busch following him. Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards were seventh and eighth, followed by Aric Almirola and Ryan Newman. Reigning Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick started the race eleventh, while the worst-placed Chase driver was Jeff Gordon in 22nd. Green flag went down 12:33 local time and Jeb Burton immediately crashed, leaving debris and causing the first caution flag. Kyle Busch took the lead as Kenseth went to the pits, and when the race restarted on lap 5, Kenseth reclaimed his position. Busch soon dropped to third, losing his spot to Joey Logano. On lap 26, the competition caution flew and the pit road opened. All race leaders pitted, and Kenseth returned from the pits in the lead. The race restarted on lap 31 and Kenseth maintained his position despite being attacked by Kurt and Kyle Busch. In the meantime, JJ Yeley was black flagged and Kasey Kahne was forced into the garage due to extensive right side damage to his car. As a result of that, the race was yellow flagged.

On lap 62, race leaders pitted again and Kenseth kept his lead upon the exit. On lap 66, the race restarted with Logano following the race leader, followed by Kurt and Kyle Busch, Harvick and Hamlin. On lap 69, Dale Jr. made contact with Carl Edwards and slammed the wall but resumed the race without causing the yellow. On lap 76, the caution eventually went out for Dale Jr when he hit the wall again, this time as a consequence of his previous hit. Joey Logano went to the lead as Matt Kenseth pitted. The race restarted on lap 81 with an attack by Kyle Busch who briefly held onto the lead but soon gave way to Logano. Polesitter Matt Kenseth was stuck in the back, but not below top fifteen. When Joey Logano pitted under green, Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson briefly held the lead, but Logano soon returned to the first position as the pit cycle completed.

Debris on the backstretch caused caution, and the race entered its second half under yellow with Joey Logano leading Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick in top five. Logano, Busch and Harvick pitted on lap 169, and Logano returned to the lead. The race restarted on lap 174 with Jimmie Johnson behind Logano and Kyle Larson moving up to second by having a great restart. Caution came out on lap 176 when Matt Kenseth’s car started smoking after colliding with Ryan Newman and the wall. Kenseth pitted for tire change and quick repairs. On lap 182, the race restarted, but seventh caution immediately came out for Justin Allgaier whose car overheated. Kenseth returned to the pits for bodywork repairs because his left rear tire was rubbing. The race restarted on lap 189 and Dale Jr. headed to the pits. Keselowski battled with Almirola for 9th, but the battle was cut short by another caution on lap 194, for remaining fluid on the track. Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch collided in pit road entrance. Busch was penalized for entering the pits too fast and both drivers were issued penalties for commitment violations. During the caution period, Dale Jr. went to the pits again.

The race restarted on lap 201 with Harvick behind Logano. The duo was followed by Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin, while Martin Truex Jr. was fifth, followed by Edwards and Kurt Busch. Kyle Busch restarted on 22nd, but was still on the lead lap. Austin Dillon went to the lead when Joey Logano pitted under green on lap 233 and as Dillon pitted, Gordon went to the lead, but was demoted by Clint Bowyer. Sam Hornish Jr. was also scored the race leader. On lap 236, Kyle Busch kissed the wall but continued driving. Ninth caution went on lap 240 when Matt Kenseth hit the wall again and was forced to the garage this time. Logano eventually returned to the lead when Hornish Jr. pitted. On lap 247, the race went green again.

Jimmie Johnson made an unexpected stop due to undefined issues which were later identified as oil pump malfunction and left the race from third. Denny Hamlin also reported electrical issues but was pushing strong on third, and so did Harvick on second who kept closing the gap between himself and race leader Logano. Joey Logano used oncoming traffic to build up the gap up to a second. On lap 283, Truex Jr. made a pit stop under green for tire change, and so did Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman. Hamlin stopped too, as well as Joey Logano, who returned to the track with 49 laps to go and with Hornish Jr. in the lead. Harvick closed the gap again, but Logano pushed harder and started pulling away. With 34 laps to go, Hornish Jr. gave up the lead and went to the pits.

 

Truex Jr. managed to get pass Hamlin and up to third, leaving #11 driver with Kurt Busch on his tail. With 19 laps to go, Keselowski reported a loose wheel and had to choose between unscheduled pitting and risking the whole race. With 10 laps to go, the gap between Logano and Harvick was almost two seconds, so race leader had a pretty certain win ahead of him. Even oncoming traffic didn’t stop Logano who won the race after leading the race for 226 laps. Harvick, Truex Jr, Hamlin and Kurt Busch followed, completing the top five. Carl Edwards was sixth, followed by Austin Dillon, the best placed non-Chase driver. Jeff Gordon was eighth, followed by Keselowski on ninth and Almirola on tenth. Among the remaining Chase drivers, Ryan Newman was 15th, Kyle Busch 20th. Dale Jr. 28th with 4 laps down and Kenseth 42nd.

With this victory, Logano ensured himself a place in the Eliminator top 8, third round of the Chase. After this session, four drivers below the line are Matt Kenseth, Dale Jr, Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman. Kansas Motor Speedway awaits them the next weekend, and the third and deciding round will be at Talladega in two weeks.

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