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 Edwards Clinches Chase Spot While Logano Continues Hot Streak

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HAMPTON, Ga. - If Joey Logano had his way on Sunday night the AdvoCare 500 would have become the AdvoCare 507 because that extra distance was what he felt was necessary for him to catch and pass race-winner Kyle Busch at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Logano had the dominant car on the night as he continually bounced back from adversity to lead seven times for a race-high 78 laps, but in the end it was a series of late-race restarts and short runs that doomed his chances.  Logano’s Shell/Pennzoil Fusion was the class of the field on long green-flag runs and  that’s what he was hoping for down the stretch, but three consecutive cautions in a 10-laps span shuffled him back to seventh with 21 laps to go and it wasn’t enough time to get all the way back.

“It took probably six laps to get it going and we proved that we had the long run car, and we were trying to get there,” said Logano, of his runner-up finish.  “I just needed five more laps for me to have a shot at it.  It’s just so frustrating when you’ve got the winning car and you don’t win.”

While he may have been frustrated about not winning, he was pleased with the position it put him as far as making the Chase because he moved up two spots to eighth and holds a 16-point lead over 11th-place Jeff Gordon.  Logano has an added cushion in that he has one victory, which could come into play from a wild card perspective if necessary.

In addition to Logano, Carl Edwards was an early-race threat as he led four times for 68 laps, but he tangled twice with Jeff Gordon and encountered right-side damage after contact late in the race.  That, in addition to not pitting on lap 207 when the other leaders did, sent Edwards falling back through the field and an 18th-place finish.

Despite that, Edwards clinched a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, along with five other drivers.  Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth are all guaranteed finishing in the top 10 while Kasey Kahne clinched at least a wild card berth by virtue of his two wins.  Therefore, seven of the 12 Chase spots have been claimed.

One driver who will have his work cut out for him next week at Richmond will be defending champion Brad Keselowski, who suffered an engine failure and finished 35th.  Keselowski was doing everything necessary to stay in Chase contention as he was in the midst of leading for 31 consecutive laps, but on lap 244 he reported that power in his No. 2 Miller Lite was failing.  He stayed out and continued to run around 25th until his engine finally gave up with only 18 laps remaining.

As a result, Keselowski finds himself 28 points behind Kurt Busch for 10th place and likely needs a win at Richmond, along with some other circumstances, to claim a transfer spot.

Even though the final results show Logano as Ford’s only top-10 finisher, it was a solid night for Marco Ambrose, who was running fourth and threatening to win the first oval race of his career with 19 laps to go, but his No. 9 Stanley Ford wasn’t as good in dirty air and he slipped back to 13th.  Greg Biffle struggled much of the night, but rallied back from being 32nd early in the race to a 15th-place finish and a ninth-place position in the point standings.  He sits eight points ahead of 10th-place Kurt Busch and 14 in front of 11th-place Gordon.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. capped off a solid weekend by finishing 16th after capturing the first pole of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career on Friday.  It was also a good night for David Gilliland, who finished 17th in the No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford.
1. Kyle Busch
2. Joey Logano
3. Martin Truex Jr.
4. Kurt Busch
5. Ryan Newman
6. Jeff Gordon
7. Juan Montoya
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
9. Kevin Harvick
10. Brian Vickers
13. Marcos Ambrose
15. Greg Biffle
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17. David Gilliland
18. Carl Edwards
20. Aric Almirola
22. Casey Mears
23. David Ragan
35. Brad Keselowski
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Clint Bowyer, -28
3. Kevin Harvick, -42
4. Carl Edwards, -42
5. Kyle Busch, -51
6. Matt Kenseth, -69
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr., -87
8. Joey Logano, -108
9. Greg Biffle, -110
10. Kurt Busch, -118
11. Jeff Gordon, -6 from 10th
12. Kasey Kahne, -10 from 10th
13. Martin Truex Jr., -15 from 10th
14. Ryan Newman, -20 from 10th
15. Brad Keselowski, -28 from 10th
Wild Card Standings
1. Kasey Kahne
2. Martin Truex Jr.
Kevin Harvick survived a restart with seven laps to go, holding off Kyle Busch and Ford’s Joey Logano among others, to win Saturday night’s Great Clips/Grit Chips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  For Harvick it was his 40th career series victory and first of the season.

And while the statistics will show that Busch and Harvick led all but xx of the 195 laps, the Fords of Logano, Sam Hornish and Trevor Bayne ran comfortably inside the top 10 all night and with the right set of circumstances could have ended up in victory lane.

Logano, who qualified 16th, was tracking Busch for the lead on lap 86 when he blew a right-front tire and scraped the outside wall.  Fortunately, it came at the beginning of a green-flag pit cycle, so he was able to come down pit road and get back on track without losing track position.  When everything cycled through, Logano remained second and stalked the lead from that point forward.
When Jeff Green brought out the final caution of the night with 14 laps remaining, all of the leaders came down pit road for four tires.  Logano and Harvick had identical stops and with Harvick winning the race off pit road, it allowed him to pick which lane he wanted to take the restart.
Harvick selected the inside and got a good jump on Logano, who spun the tires and fell back to a final position of sixth. 
“I spun my tires and I was way too tight to do anything with him,” said a dejected Logano.  “I thought I was in the catbird’s seat.  I thought I could beat him there on the start and I just lit ‘em up.”  
Logano’s misfortune, however, turned into Sam Hornish’s gain as the NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader went from seventh to third in the final 14 laps.  That enabled him to increase his advantage over second-place Austin Dillon to 10 points as the Richard Childress Racing driver ended up eighth.
“It was a good set of calls and really having a good lane choice there at the end, being in the right place,” said Hornish.  “So many times you get stuck out here by being in the wrong lane, but tonight it really worked out for us and we were exactly where we wanted to be.  Our Ford Mustang was really good on the long run and I was glad we were able to make solid adjustments on it to be able to make it good for that last short run.”
Trevor Bayne was in position to make a move at the end, but he got bottled up behind Logano on the final restart and finished seventh.  Chris Buescher ended up 13th, Michael Annett 14th and Travis Pastrana 17th among the other Ford drivers.
Ford Finishing Order
2nd – Joey Logano
13th – Marcos Ambrose
15th – Greg Biffle
16th – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17th – David Gilliland
18th – Carl Edwards
20th – Aric Almirola
22nd – Casey Mears
23rd – David Ragan
35th – Brad Keselowski



9/3/2013 5:00 AM