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Logano thrusts himself into Chase contention with Michigan win
Joey Logano started Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from the pole, and after a convoluted mix of strategy and racing incidents, it was Logano who claimed the victory and established himself as a contender for a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Mark Martin took off after a restart on Lap 178, as Kurt Busch, Logano and Harvick battled for the second spot behind him. But Martin was short on field, and after the running order shuffled out with Logano in second and Harvick in third, the pursuers began to close in on the leader.
“I noticed he was lifting early, because I was catching him on entry (into the corners),” Logano said. “He was able to pull me on exit. I wanted to get by him, because I knew the 29 (Harvick) was fast, too… “It is so cool to be here in Victory Lane. It’s crazy racing Mark Martin, my childhood hero. I was able to race against him in Pocono last year for the win. It is so cool racing against a guy like that.”
“Just mistimed that last restart there,” Harvick said. “I had a great run on the 55 (Martin). Was going to beat him to the line by too much. Wound up having to drag the brakes. From there, it was going to be sketchy if we were going to keep the 22 back there.
Johnson could afford that sort of failure, having locked himself into the Chase last week at Watkins Glen. The same couldn’t be said of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., who smacked the Turn 2 wall on Lap 135 — after leading 20 circuits earlier in the race — and took his crippled car to the garage for repairs.
Though he was the victim of an early spin in Turn 4, Austin Dillon rallied from a lap down to finish 14th in his substitute role for injured Tony Stewart, the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet is in a tight battle with the No. 56 of Michael Waltrip Racing for a spot in the owners’ Chase.
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