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Joey Logano beats Kevin Harvick at Kansas to clinch a chance at the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series title

Nick Bromberg
·4-min read

Joey Logano will have a chance to win a second Cup Series title.

Logano led the final 44 laps of Sunday’s race at Kansas to beat Kevin Harvick to the checkered flag and secure his spot in the winner-take-all race for the championship at Phoenix on Nov. 8.

It sure looked like Harvick had a faster car than Logano over the final 30 laps of the race. But the high-downforce rules that NASCAR has implemented at intermediate tracks create a lot of dirty air. And that dirty air appeared to affect Harvick whenever he would get close to Logano’s car.

“Dirty air was the best for us,” Logano said after getting out of his car. The only variable that seemed to affect the battle between the two drivers was lapped traffic in the final laps. But Logano navigated it deftly and never gave Harvick an opening to get really close.

And whenever Harvick would get within a car length or so on the straightaway he would seemingly push Logano’s car forward rather than pull up further for a passing opportunity.

“Joey’s a good blocker,” Harvick said. Logano did a fantastic job of taking Harvick’s line away in the corners to deprive him of air that wasn’t turbulent.

Logano got the lead on the race’s final restart when he exited pit road first after taking two tires. Harvick, meanwhile, got four fresh tires on that stop.

Logano’s ability to hold Harvick off — and the manner in which he did — illustrated the conundrum NASCAR has created for itself with its rules at intermediate tracks like Kansas.

The high aerodynamic downforce and limited horsepower rules are designed to keep cars closer together. And that was on full display Sunday as temperatures were under 50 degrees. The cool temps kept cars closer together.

But those cool temps didn’t create more passing opportunities. With drivers on the throttle so much through the corners they were all running close to the same speed. Have you ever tried to pass someone on the highway while going just a mile or two per hour faster? Yeah, it takes a while.

The lack of off-throttle time meant that drivers had a hard time creating runs on each other through the corners. And as Harvick’s car illustrated at various points over the final stretch, a driver was basically blocked by a bubble of air when he did get to the rear bumper of a car ahead. It’s hard enough to pass a driver in NASCAR without having the air ahead of you fighting against you too.

Joey Logano celebrates in victory lane after winning a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Joey Logano is going to get a shot at the 2020 Cup Series title. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Logano continues his even-year pattern

Logano won the 2018 Cup Series title in a bit of an upset. He missed out on the final round in 2019.

Now that he’s back in 2020, Logano continues an odd — or shall we say even — pattern. He’s only made the final round of the playoffs in even years. He was in the first elimination playoff final round in 2014 and then appeared in the final round again in 2016.

Did Kurt Busch’s title chances blow up?

Kurt Busch made the semifinals of the Cup Series playoffs by winning at Las Vegas in the second round. He finished 38th at Kansas after his engine blew up.

“I haven’t seen an engine problem in years,” Busch said. “No fault of anybody at Hendrick engines. We’re running hard here. We were running top-five and there’s a ton of RPM down the front-straightaway with the tail wind.”

Busch is now in a massive points deficit. He’s 73 points behind Brad Keselowski for the fourth spot in the title race and has to pass three other drivers to get to fourth. He probably needs to win at Texas or Martinsville to get to the title race.

Points standings

1. Joey Logano (won at Kansas)

2. Kevin Harvick, 4,115 points

3. Denny Hamlin, 4,094

4. Brad Keselowski, 4,082

5. Chase Elliott, 4,074

6. Martin Truex Jr., 4,051

7. Alex Bowman, 4,045

8. Kurt Busch, 4,009

Race results

1. Joey Logano

2. Kevin Harvick

3. Alex Bowman

4. Brad Keselowski

5. Kyle Busch

6. Chase Elliott

7. Ryan Blaney

8. William Byron

9. Martin Truex Jr.

10. Christopher Bell

11. Austin Dillon

12. Matt DiBenedetto

13. Aric Almirola

14. Cole Custer

15. Denny Hamlin

16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17. John Hunter Nemechek

18. Bubba Wallace

19. Michael McDowell

20. Erik Jones

21. Chris Buescher

22. Ryan Newman

23. Corey LaJoie

24. Ty Dillon

25. Tyler Reddick

26. Clint Bowyer

27. Daniel Suarez

28. Brennan Poole

29. Ryan Preece

30. JJ Yeley

31. Jimmie Johnson

32. James Davison

33. Quin Houff

34. Timmy Hill

35. Josh Bilicki

36. Reed Sorenson

37. Joey Gase

38. Kurt Busch

39. Chad Finchum

40. Matt Kenseth

– – – – – – –

Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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