Logano takes Texas, becomes Chase contender
April 07, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com
For the first time in 11 years, seven different drivers have won the first seven races of the season.
Logano led a race-high 108 of the 340 laps. He was in control late and looked like he would cruise to victory when a caution was issued on Lap 334.
Jeff Gordon started first in the green-white-checkered restart, but Logano passed him on the last lap and beat him by nearly a half-second (.476).
Gordon, a four-time series champion, has taken over the Sprint Cup Series points lead with 259 points. Matt Kenseth is second (255), while Carl Edwards (247), Logano (235) and Kyle Busch (231) round out the top five.
Brad Keselowski was hit hardest by Monday's late restart. Keselowski was running second when the final caution came out, but he was penalized for speeding off pit road and finished 15th. Keselowski qualified second and led 85 laps.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who went to Texas with the points lead, hit the wall on the 14th lap and caught fire. He finished last (43rd) and is now tied for sixth in the points standings.
Earnhardt Jr.'s early exit impacted Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, who was running behind him at the time. Johnson suffered windshield and front-end damage from the debris but remained in the race. Johnson finished 25th, two laps down, and is now tied with Earnhardt Jr. for sixth place.
Kevin Harvick, who won at Phoenix, led a lap at Texas and was running with the lead pack when he blew his engine. Harvick completed 28 laps and placed 42nd.
Logano joins the Busch brothers, Keselowski, Harvick, Earnhardt Jr. and Edwards as winners of Sprint Cup Series races this season.
If any of those seven drivers win at least one more time this season, they would be guaranteed a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Drivers with one win through the first 26 races must rank among the top 30 in the points standings to qualify for the Chase.
Kurt Busch, who won the previous week at Martinsville, was the reason for the final caution (blown tire) and placed 39th. He's now 25th in the points standings and Harvick is 26th.
After the seventh race of NASCAR's regular season, here is how the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings look:
|4.||Dale Earnhardt Jr.
||Winner: Las Vegas
|7.||Kevin Harvick||Winner: Phoenix|
||2nd in points|
||7th in points|
||9th in points|
||10th in points|
||11th in points|
||12th in points|
||13th in points|
||14th in points|