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NASCAR at Kansas: Logano outruns Harvick; Briscoe wins Xfinity; Moffitt in the Truck Series

NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway
• Logano holds off Harvick for the win; punches his ticket for Phoenix

Kansas City, KS, Oct 18/20 (GRW): If any one was trying to guess which driver would win this race, up until the final caution, they probably would have chosen Kevin Harvick or Denny Hamlin, who had led respectively 85 laps and 58 laps of the 267-lap race. But, on lap 215, Tyler Reddick slammed the wall and brought out the final caution and everything changed.

Actually Hamlin had lost contact a few laps earlier when he hit the wall and, when he pitted, he went a lap down. This left Harvick in the lead ahead of Joey Logano. Prior to that, Logano had only led for two laps thanks to taking on only two tires in an earlier pit stop. So, given that he had used this trick to gain position on the subsequent restart and given that it only worked to give him the lead for two laps, Logano did not look like much of a threat to Harvick’s dominance.

However, on this final caution, Logano beat Harvick out of the pits fair-and-square. They lined up side-by-side in the front row for the restart and Logano got the jump on Harvick. Harvick quickly closed up on Logano’s tail and it looked like, long before the remaining laps had been run, Harvick would have disposed of Logano and cruised home to the win.

But, with about 30 laps remaining, Logano was determined to hang on for the win. He was able to parry Harvick’s every move. If Harvick went low, Logano went low to block the way. If Harvick went high, Logano went high to close that door. Lap after lap this continued but we all believed that sooner or later Harvick was going to come storming past to take the lead and then go on the win the race. But it never happened. Logano kept doing his magic lap after lap until, finally, he took the checker.

There seemed to be general agreement that Harvick had the faster car but Logano’s high line/low line dance was enough to stymie all his efforts to get past.

This win, in the first race of the three-race ‘Round of 8' gives Logano an assured place among the four finalists who will advance to the championship finale at Phoenix. He can now take it easy during the next two races and direct all his attention to winning the finale.

Chase Elliott was in control for most of the first Stage despite having radio communications problems. Harvick did lead for 33 laps in the middle of the 80-lap Stage but it was Elliott who won it.

Denny Hamlin took the lead at the start of the second 80-lap Stage and he emerged as the winner of this Stage ahead of Harvick. This set up a battle between the two favourites to win the 2020 championship – Hamlin and Harvick – but 15 laps into this final Stage, Hamlin scraped the wall and his chances at the win evaporated.

After this, it looked like Harvick was going to have things all his own way until Logano beat him out of the pits during that final caution – and, after that, it all went Logano’s way to the checker.

“You gotta want it, man,” Logano said afterwards. “What an amazing team this Shell Pennzoil team is. Oh my goodness. Pit stops put us in position and got us the lead. The 4 (Harvick) was fast, he was real fast especially on the straightaways and I thought if I could hold him off the first 15 laps I had a chance and actually dirty air was best for us and as I caught lapped traffic I was able to gap ourselves.”

Alex Bowman finished third, Brad Keselowski was fourth and Kyle Busch was fifth. Who knows, we may yet see a Kyle Busch win before the 2020 season ends.

• Click HERE for the results of this NASCAR Cup race at Kansas.

• The next Cup race will be run next Sunday, October 25, at Texas Motor Speedway

PHOTO NXS KS Chckered 101720Chase Briscoe, Daniel Hemric, and Justin Haley restart during the Kansas Lottery 300 (Jamie Squire | Getty Images)

NASCAR Xfinity Series Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway

• Briscoe scores a dominant win; Cindric struggles after an early crash

Kansas City, KS, Oct 17/20 (GRW): Chase Briscoe started the race back in sixth place thanks to NASCAR’s formula for setting the race’s starting lineup but after two early cautions, he took the lead on the second restart and, from then on, he was in command, leading 159 of the race’s 200 laps despite Ryan Sieg’s lucky elevation to the lead for a while late in the race.

This race, which saw ten cautions including a competition caution and two Stage-end cautions, had it’s first ‘big one’ early. On the restart after the first caution, Austin Cindric was lined up in the front row alongside Noah Gragson – but on the green, Ross Chastain jumped up alongside Gragson dropping Cindric back to third. Cindric made a hard left turn to drop in between these two but something went wrong – either he made contact with Gragson’s right fender or the aero made his car go out of control. Cindric’s car spun to the right and then, for sure, made contact with Gragson – both cars sustained a lot of damage. Briscoe, who had started in the third row, was lucky to avoid being caught up in the Cindric-Gragson crash right in front of him.

While Cindric’s car looked to have been more torn up, his crew grabbed yards of tape and somehow were able to get it out before the time on the ‘crash clock’ ran out. The ‘competition caution’ came soon after and his crew was able to make more extensive repairs – enough to get him to the end of the race – but he had gone many laps down and he could not make them up, finishing the race in 28th place, 27 laps down. This was going to be costly in his quest to make it into the group of the final four championship contenders at the Phoenix finale; perhaps he will win one of the next two races and earn his finale playoff spot that way?

As for Gragson, it turned out that his car had sustained too much damage to continue and he retired, being scored in last place. Another championship hopeful who had a big setback here.

On the restart after this early caution, Briscoe was able to jump both Chastain and Brandon Jones to take the lead for the first time.

Briscoe continued to lead, winning the first Stage which ended on lap 45. He continued to lead right through the second Stage, winning that one as well – ahead of Jones and Anthony Alfredo.

Mid-way though this final 110-lap Stage, the cars began a cycle of green-flag pit stops – with Briscoe coming out ahead of everyone else who had pitted. But Ryan Sieg, who had been running near the back of the lead lap group of cars, opted to gamble and he stayed out in hopes of getting a caution which might jump him up in the race order.

That hoped-for caution came on lap 157 and he was able to take the restart in ninth place – but on laps-fresher tires. Those drivers who had pitted earlier in the green-flag cycle now pitted for a new set of fresh tires but Sieg already had new tires and he stayed out and he took over the race lead.

As they lined up for this restart, Briscoe found himself in ninth place behind those who had not pitted this time – but now he was on slightly better tires. Before Briscoe could capitalize on his better tires, there was a really ‘big one’. Justin Allgaier had gone down on the apron in an attempt to make up ground on the restart – but another car came down alongside as well – and he lost control and spun up the track in front of the whole bunched-up mess of cars coming behind.

He tapped Alfredo and sent him up into the outside wall. Riley Herbst who had chosen that upper line on the restart, had a head of steam and he could not avoid slamming into Alfredo’s car. Herbst’s car was destroyed and the collision had sent Alfredo flipping; his car landed upside-down at the bottom of the banking. The red flag was displayed while Alfredo’s car was tuned back over onto its wheels. Fortunately no one was hurt.

When the race finally got underway again, it only took Briscoe a couple of laps before he was back in the lead ahead of Sieg – and he led the rest of the way to the finish.

As for Sieg, there was one more yellow and he pitted to take on fresh tires. This dropped him back but he was able to take advantage of his improved grip to claw his way back up to third at the finish a few laps later.

Daniel Hemric had been gaining ground prior to this last caution and he took the final restart in third place; he passed Justin Haley for second, 1.2 seconds behind the race winner. Haley fell back to finish in fourth behind Sieg and Hemric. Austin Hill finished in fifth place.

Of course, this win guaranteed Briscoe a playoff position for the Phoenix finale. “Super happy to lock into Phoenix, it’ll be a lot less stressful the next two weeks,” Briscoe said. “That’ll be nice. Can’t say thank you enough to everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing, this Ford Performance Racing School Mustang was lights out.”

• Click HERE for the results of the Xfinity race at Kansas

• The next Xfinity Series race will be run at Texas Motor Speedway next Saturday, October 24. There are two more races in this playoff ‘Round of 8' before the final four playoff contenders are determined for the Phoenix finale – Texas and Martinsville.

PHOTO NGROTS KS FinalLaps 101720Brett Moffitt and Sheldon Creed lead the field during the final lap of the Clean Harbors 200 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Clean Harbors 200 at Kansas Speedway
• Moffitt holds off Creed at the line; advances to finale

Kansas City, KS, Oct 17/20 (GRW): Early in this race, Sheldon Creed seemed to be in command, winning both of the first two Stages and leading the most laps (61 of the race’s 139 laps, including overtime) but Brett Moffitt emerged as the strongest runner in the late stages of the race, taking the lead on lap 117 after a final round of green-flag pit stops. Zane Smith got past him soon after but he only led for eight laps before his spun and brought out the final caution – sending the race into overtime.

Moffitt lined up at the front for the restart with Grant Enfinger alongside but he squirted out ahead at the green and he held on to the finish. In these final few laps, Creed and Austin Hill both got past to finish two-three ahead of Enfinger. The other Smith, Chandler Smith, finished in fifth place while Zane Smith took the checker in 11th place.

The ‘big one’ came early, in the jumble of trucks on the first lap after the start of the second Stage, at lap 38. After Tyler Ankrum and Rapheal Lessard got together at the bottom of a three-wide scramble and started spinning, one or two more collisions occurred behind them. Four trucks, including Ankrum and Lessard were knocked out of the race and were unable to continue.

Zane Smith led most of the rest of this second Stage but Creed got past him on lap 54 and won this Stage which ended on lap 60. Creed continued to lead the race into the third and final Stage, giving up the lead on lap 105 when the final round of green-flag pit stops began.

When this cycle of pit stops was completed, Moffitt was leading and Creed had fallen back to fourth place behind Zane Smith and Enfinger. A few laps later, Zane Smith got past Moffitt into the lead but Moffitt did not give up and he kept pressing Smith, running side-by-side with him. It was Smith who faltered and when he spun, Moffitt regained the lead and he went on to take the win.

This was the first win of the 2020 season for the 2018 Truck Series champion but it was good enough to guarantee him a spot in the final four racing for the championship at the Phoenix finale.

“It’s pretty incredible, such a way to turn the season around for our 23 team,” said Moffitt. “It’s been a long time since I got in Victory Lane in Iowa, pretty incredible there on the backstretch. I’ve got to apologize to the 21 (Smith) there for trying to block him. But we were racing hard for a championship spot and that’s what you got to do.”

Hailee Deegan is a young woman driver who has been taken under Ford’s wing this year. She has been running in the ARCA Series all year and, here at Kansas, she made her debut in the Truck Series, the series she will be running in next season. She made a good debut here and finished in 16th place, one lap down.

“Oh man, I think my goal was just to finish the race,” a smiling Deegan said. “It’s crazy compared to ARCA racing how intense this racing is, how competitive it is. You’re trying to block one guy while pass another and next thing you know, you’ve got two guys blowing by you if you don’t make a successful pass. It’s a lot tougher racing, but I think we definitely had a successful day.”

• Click HERE for the results of the Truck Series race at Kansas

• The next NGROTS race will be run next Sunday, October 25 at Texas Motor Speedway

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