Joey Logano got off to a hot start to the 2020 season by winning two of the first four races.
Then the NASCAR Cup Series schedule was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Team Penske driver went winless — until Sunday.
Logano used a fast pit stop under caution with just under 50 laps to go, held off nine-race 2020 winner Kevin Harvick the rest of the way and went on win the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
The victory sends Logano to the four-driver Championship Round of the Cup playoffs at Phoenix three weeks from now. Logano won in Phoenix in the spring.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Harvick finished second on Sunday after leading a race-best 85 laps. The margin of victory for Logano was .312 seconds.
Fellow playoff contender Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports finished third.
Filling out the top five were Penske driver Brad Keselowski and non-playoff driver Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing.
The playoffs’ Round of 8 continues next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Like Kansas, it’s a 1.5-mile intermediate track.
Other playoff drivers having a good day at Kansas were Chase Elliott, who finished in sixth place, and Martin Truex Jr., who was ninth.
Denny Hamlin, seeking his first career championship, had one of the fastest cars on the track and had led 58 laps before running into trouble early in the final stage. While running fifth, he scraped the outside wall and had to pit for new tires. He fell off the lead lap.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who has seven wins on the season, got back on the lead lap by way of a wave around, moved forward and finished a respectable 15th.
Having the most trouble among playoff drivers was Kurt Busch. The Las Vegas native was slapped with a speeding penalty early in the race. He made his way back up to the front but with 70 laps to go, the engine on his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet went up in smoke. He was running seventh at the time.
“I haven’t seen an engine problem in years,” he said. “No fault of anybody at Hendrick engines (which provides CGR with engines). We were running hard here. Running top five. We were right in the mix.”
Clint Bowyer’s Cup Series-long quest to win at his home-state Kansas Speedway will apparently come to an unsuccessful end. Bowyer, a native of Emporia, finished Sunday. He announced earlier this fall that he will retired after the current season and move to the television booth. He finished 26th.
–Field Level Media