KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Joey Logano spent the final 40-plus laps at Kansas Speedway keeping an eye on Kevin Harvick in his rear-view mirror.
Now, he can look ahead to the NASCAR Cup Series finale at Phoenix.
Using every bit of the track Sunday to hold off the winningest driver this season, Logano took the checkered flag on a cold, blustery Sunday to secure a spot in the championship round of the playoffs. Harvick was followed across by Alex Bowman and Brad Keselowski as postseason contenders swept the top four spots in the opener of the round of eight.
“It's on your mind every lap. You come into this race knowing if you win this thing you have an amazing advantage,” said Logano, who experienced the same perk on his way to the 2018 title. “I can't believe it, especially the way the beginning of the race was going, running back there around 10th and not scoring any stage points.”
Harvick, who already has won nine times this season, kept pulling up to Logano's bumper after the final restart for a caution brought out by Tyler Reddick. But he simply couldn't make a pass stick as Logano moved all over the track to block him while taking advantage of lapped traffic that kept Harvick from making a clear run.
“We just needed to get off pit road first. It came down to controlling that restart,” Harvick said. “All our guys did a great job. We had a fast car. We moved all over the track. We weren't the best behind somebody but I had a lot of options.”
Just none of them worked to get around Logano, who picked up his third win of the season and first since the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced the capacity to about 10,000 fans for Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway.
Oh, and one of his other wins this season? Phoenix, where Logano will now race for a title.