Team Penske’s Joey Logano stormed into the semifinal round of the 2016 Chase on Sunday with another victory at Talladega Superspeedway. He put the Number-22 Ford in front for good late in the race and kept it there over the final forty-five laps to notch his sixteenth career victory and second this season. Logano also won last fall’s race on the sprawling two-point-six-six-mile Alabama oval and is just the second driver in fourteen years with back-to-back victories in this event. Clint Bowyer is the last one to do it, in 2010 and 2011. Richard Petty Motorsports rookie Brian Scott challenged Logano down the stretch but fell twelve one-hundredths of a second short at the checkered flag. Denny Hamlin finished third to lead a parade of four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers into the Round of Eight. Kurt Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Junior completed the top five. Pole sitter Martin Truex Junior led only two laps before retiring with engine failure midway through the first half of the race. His fortieth-place finish eliminated Truex from the post-season Chase. He’s joined on the sidelines by Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski – who also was knocked out by engine failure on Sunday, after leading a race-high ninety laps. Dillon finished the Round of Twelve tied with Hamlin for the eighth and final transfer spot but lost the tiebreaker, based on a driver’s best finish in the current round of the post-season. Dillon’s was sixth last weekend at Kansas Speedway, Hamlin’s was third on Sunday … Yesterday’s race went four laps past its scheduled distance because of a late caution for Alex Bowman’s spin.
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Brad Keselowski snapped Carl Edwards’ two-race winning streak on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, surviving a near-record number of cautions to notch his second victory of the season and take a firm hold on one of the sixteen spots available in the post-season Chase. Keselowski started seventh and led a race-high forty-six laps, including the final seventeen trips around the sprawling Alabama oval. The last of the day’s ten caution periods unfolded in Keselowski’s rear-view mirror with the checkered flag in sight. The accident along the frontstretch involved seven drivers including Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth. The ten yellow flags were one shy of the Talladega track record of eleven that was set in April 2004. Forty-one of the race’s 188 laps were run under caution, with a pair of major multi-car accidents disrupting the afternoon.
Less than thirty laps from the finish, Kurt Busch tapped Jimmie Johnson to trigger a twenty-one-car melee, more than half the starting field. Twenty laps later, a twelve-car incident on the backstretch took out Kenseth, who had led thirty-nine laps. Earlier, with the race at its halfway point, Chris Buescher took the brunt of a seven-car crash that ended with his Number-34 Ford barrel-rolling three times after contact from Michael Annett. None of the drivers involved in the numerous accidents were seriously injured … Edwards’ hopes for a third straight victory were finally dashed when he blew a right-front tire and collided with Dale Earnhardt Junior, saddling Edwards with a thirty-fifth-place finish … The race ended under caution with Kyle Busch grabbing second place. Austin Dillon, Jamie McMurray and rookie pole sitter Chase Elliott completed the top five.
Next stop Talladega Superspeedway for Sunday’s GEICO 500, tenth race of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series. The last two races have been run on short tracks in Bristol, Tennessee, and Richmond, Virginia – with Carl Edwards winning both to climb to the top of the regular-season point standings. The last driver to win three straight Sprint Cup races was Joey Logano, who swept the Contender Round of last year’s post-season Chase with victories at Kansas Speedway, Charlotte and Talladega … Edwards finished fifth and thirty-second in last year’s two trips to the Alabama oval … Joe Gibbs Racing has four wins at Talladega, most recently in 2014 with Denny Hamlin.
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