Joey Logano outdueled Kevin Harvick to win the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday. Logano dominated the race, leading 227 of the 334 laps.
With his victory, Logano becomes the first driver to qualify for the next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Two more races, next week at Kansas and in two weeks at Talladega, Ala., remain before the 12 remaining drivers in contention will be reduced to 8.
Finishing third on Sunday was Martin Truex, Jr. followed by Denny Hamlin, and Carl Edwards. Contenders Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski finished 8th and 9th, respectively.
Disaster struck other contenders. Matt Kenseth was involved in an accident and finished in 42nd position. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was into the wall more than once and wound up 28th, while Kyle Busch finished 20th after tangling with Kyle Larson while entering pit road. Ryan Newman, the other contender, finished 15th.
Logano’s victory was his 12th career win and marked his ninth top 10 finish in a row, a career record. He can now prepare for the next round without the pressure of needing a win or a top finish.
Kenseth and Earnhardt have work to do. To qualify for the next round, they can win of the two remaining races or have two solid finishes while some of the other drivers run into problems.
Kenseth is 32 points behind the driver currently in the pivotal eighth position, Keselowski. Earnhardt is 19 points behind, while Kyle Busch is 10 back.
There is a bright spot for Kenseth. He is a two-time winner at Kansas Speedway, where a victory makes his team forget everything.
Gordon leads all of the contending drivers with three previous wins at Kansas while Newman, Harvick, Hamlin, Keselowski and Logano have one each.
The full race results are here.