Sports Pulse: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch on what Michael Jordan can expect coming into the sport.

USA TODAY

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Joey Logano used every bit of the track to hold off Kevin Harvick over a long, finishing green-flag run to win the NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday and earn a spot in the championship round at Phoenix.

The 2018 series champion had hung around the front of the pack all afternoon, but he had only led one other time on a cold, blustery day before taking the lead from Harvick with 44 laps to go.

Harvick, the winningest driver so far this season, kept pulling up to Logano’s bumper coming out of corners but simply couldn’t make a pass stick. Logano deftly used a parade of lapped traffic to score the win and head to Phoenix, where he already has won this season, with a chance to win a second Cup Series tile.

It was the first win for Logano since before the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the track to reduce the crowd to about 10,000 fans. But it came at the best of times, giving Team Penske a couple of weeks to prepare for another title run rather than stress about races at Texas and Martinsville.

"You gotta want it man. What an amazing team this Shell Pennzoil team is. I am worn out. I spent more time in the mirror than I did in the windshield there," an exuberant but exhausted Logano said after climbing out of his car. "The 4 (Harvick) was fast, real fast, especially down the straightaways. I thought if I could hold him off the first 15 laps that I would have a chance.

"Man, I am exhausted after that. We are going to Phoenix and racing for a championship again. Heck yeah!”

Alex Bowman finished third, Brad Keselowski was fourth and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five.

Joey Logano edges Kevin Harvick in Kansas playoff race, clinches spot in Championship 4

Joey Logano celebrates with the checkered flag after winning the Hollywood Casino 400 Sunday at Kansas Speedway. (Photo: Jamie Squire, Getty Images)

Chase Elliott, who won the opening stage, wound up sixth after dealing with radio problems that at one point caused him to mistakenly pit. Elliott tried using a backup radio and at one point resorted to hand signs with his team on pit road to convey what he wanted done with the car.

Ryan Blaney, William Byron, playoff driver Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell rounded out the top 10.

Elliott picked up his ninth stage win of the season by getting around Harvick midway through the opening stage, but the radio trouble that had conspired against him really bit him during the second stage.

Most leaders already had pitted when Matt Kenseth hit the front-stretch wall to bring out a caution. The remaining cars headed down pit road with 12 laps left in the stage, but Elliott crew chief Alan Gustafson wanted his driver to stay on the track. The message not got through, and Elliott took a left turn onto pit road and lost a handful of spots.

Denny Hamlin and Harvick, who had combined for 16 wins this season, wound up dueling for the stage win. Hamlin managed to hold off the 2014 series champion to win his 10th stage of the season.

Truex and Kurt Busch spent the day trying to overcome mistakes.

Truex’s team failed inspection twice before finally making it through, but that sent his No. 19 Toyota to the back of the field for the start. He quickly worked his way into the top 10, where he spent much of the rest of the afternoon.

Kurt Busch had to serve a penalty for speeding on pit road that hurt him in the opening stage. Then midway through the final stage, Kurt Busch began to communicate with his team about a problem in his car. His engine finally gave out with a cloud of smoke heading into Turn 1 with 68 laps to go that left him in a win-or-else situation at Texas and Martinsville.

“Usually there’s no warning. Everything is so buttoned-up these days in the engine department. And wow, I haven’t had an engine problem in years,” said Kurt Busch, whose Chip Ganassi Racing team gets its engines from Hendrick Motorsports.

“No fault of anyone at Hendrick. We were just running hard,” he said. “We were right in the mix. We were doing the deal. It’s a shame for everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. Having an engine failure in the playoffs, it’s like a huge parachute that slows you up. We’ll pack that parachute up and go tot Texas."

2020 NASCAR Cup Series race winners Sunday at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway (starting position in parentheses):

1. (2) Joey Logano, Ford, 267 laps, 42 points.

2. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 267, 48.

3. (6) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 267, 46.

4. (8) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 267, 47.

5. (20) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 267, 33.

6. (1) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 267, 47.

7. (9) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 267, 45.

8. (10) William Byron, Chevrolet, 267, 29.

9. (5) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 267, 34.

10. (22) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 267, 27.

11. (17) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 267, 26.

12. (18) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 267, 29.

13. (16) Aric Almirola, Ford, 267, 24.

14. (13) Cole Custer, Ford, 267, 23.

15. (7) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267, 40.

16. (23) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Chevrolet, 267, 21.

17. (32) John H. Nemechek, Ford, 267, 20.

18. (24) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 267, 19.

19. (26) Michael McDowell, Ford, 267, 18.

20. (11) Erik Jones, Toyota, 267, 23.

21. (21) Chris Buescher, Ford, 267, 16.

22. (28) Ryan Newman, Ford, 267, 15.

23. (29) Corey Lajoie, Ford, 267, 14.

24. (25) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 266, 13.

25. (15) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 266, 12.

26. (12) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 266, 12.

27. (27) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 265, 10.

28. (35) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 263, 9.

29. (19) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 262, 8.

30. (34) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, 261, 0.

31. (14) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 261, 6.

32. (33) James Davison, Ford, 258, 5.

33. (31) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 258, 4.

34. (37) Timmy Hill, Toyota, 256, 0.

35. (39) Josh Bilicki, Chevrolet, 254, 0.

36. (36) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 250, 1.

37. (38) Joey Gase, Ford, 228, 0.

38. (3) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, engine, 197, 3.

39. (40) Chad Finchum, Toyota, transmission, 154, 0.

40. (30) Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, accident, 144, 1.

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 138.329 mph.

Time of Race: 2 hours, 53 minutes, 43 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 0.312 seconds.

Caution Flags: 6 for 31 laps.

Lead Changes: 17 among 11 drivers.

Lap Leaders: C.Elliott 0-27; W.Byron 28-30; K.Harvick 31-63; C.Elliott 64-83; D.Hamlin 84-86; C.Elliott 87; D.Hamlin 88-124; B.Keselowski 125-130; Ku.Busch 131-132; M.DiBenedetto 133-144; R.Newman 145; D.Hamlin 146-163; Ky.Busch 164-167; J.Logano 168-169; K.Harvick 170-201; C.Lajoie 202; K.Harvick 203-222; J.Logano 223-267

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): K.Harvick, 3 times for 85 laps; D.Hamlin, 3 times for 58 laps; C.Elliott, 3 times for 48 laps; J.Logano, 2 times for 47 laps; M.DiBenedetto, 1 time for 12 laps; B.Keselowski, 1 time for 6 laps; Ky.Busch, 1 time for 4 laps; W.Byron, 1 time for 3 laps; Ku.Busch, 1 time for 2 laps; R.Newman, 1 time for 1 lap; C.Lajoie, 1 time for 1 lap.

Wins: K.Harvick, 9; D.Hamlin, 7; B.Keselowski, 4; C.Elliott, 3; J.Logano, 2; M.Truex, 1; A.Bowman, 1; Ku.Busch, 1; A.Dillon, 1; R.Blaney, 1; W.Byron, 1; C.Custer, 1.

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