A coming-together during a Stage 2 restart left familiar foes Kyle Busch and Joey Logano with a mixed bag of results Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Busch rallied from Lap 89 contact with Logano’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford for a sixth-place finish in the South Point 400, helping him jump up one spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs standings. Logano took the worst of the damage and clawed his way back to finish 14th on the lead lap, but he dipped two positions in the standings, sitting just 11 points above the cut-off line with two races left in the Round of 12.
WATCH: Pit road trouble for Kyle Busch
Neither driver said they had seen a replay of their scrape entering Turn 3, but both expressed a measure of surprise by Denny Hamlin’s bold three-wide move to the low side shortly after the start of Stage 2. With the low lane’s running room suddenly occupied, Logano’s car and Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota brushed together as they began the corner.
“I haven’t been able to see it or look at it or anything like that, so I don’t know what all went down there,” Busch said. “I know Denny made a last-minute move in order to make us three-wide, and I don’t know if the 22 (Logano) knew that was coming and didn’t adjust for it and didn’t plan for it. It kind of seemed like he expected me to go to the bottom (lane) and run the bottom, and he was going to run my door.”
Logano said he was surprised by Hamlin’s dive to the low side, and wasn’t sure if Busch was as well. He pitted two laps later with a tire rub — opting against gambling by trying to ride it out — and returned to the race in 32nd place one lap down. Logano didn’t return to the lead lap until late in the final stage as the beneficiary of the next-to-last caution period with 17 laps left.
The recovery left him on the positive end of the playoff bubble with next Sunday’s stop looming at treacherous Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
“We salvaged something out of it,” Logano said. “We definitely left at least 10 points or so and that is probably a conservative number of points left on the table that would be very nice to have. That is in the past now. Now we move forward and head to Talladega and cross our fingers and see what happens there.”