By: Mitchell Breuer
In a day that saw Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin paced a combined 143 of 267 laps, neither ended in Hollywood Casino 400 victory lane.
Instead, that honor belonged to Joey Logano, who took the lead from Harvick on pit road during the final caution. With the win, the No. 22 team locks their way into the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway, where they won earlier this season.
How Logano held off the dominant Harvick proved to be one of the main stories of the day, as the No. 4 appeared to be faster, but the No. 22, on defense, blocked all attempts and stalled any momentum. Unfortunately for Harvick, he experienced a preview of this earlier in the race when he tried to get around Hamlin for the Stage 2 win; he experienced similar problems despite being on fresher tires in that scenario. Like the finish of the race, Harvick was unable to grab the win there too.
Another story of the race was Chase Elliott, who experienced radio problems throughout the race, at one point pitting because he could not hear his pit crew. Fortunately, for the No. 9 team, the day was still a good one, winning Stage 1 and finishing sixth.
Other playoff drivers that made the headlines were Martin Truex Jr and Kurt Busch.
Truex started his day on a sour note, dropping to the rear of the field after failing pre-race inspection multiple times. It did not affect the No. 19 too much, as he finished the first stage in eighth. However, that was as good as Truex’s day was going to get, as he completed the second stage in the same spot and ended the day in ninth.
An average day was better than the one Busch had though, who entered the race already in an underdog position to make the Championship 4 after his surprising win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last round. The No. 1 will be in a deeper hole after Kansas, now 73 points below the cutline after he finished 38th, blowing an engine on Lap 197.
The day in general was a forgettable one for his team, Chip Ganassi Racing, whose other driver Matt Kenseth, was involved a wreck earlier in the race and finished last. This marked the tenth time the No. 42 has placed 25th or lower since the 2003 NASCAR Cup Series Champion took over driving duties back in May.