Penske’s Joey Logano maximized his alternate tyre strategy to claim a win at NASCAR’s South Point 400 held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The win also secured the Connecticut native’s place in the final four of this year’s playoffs.
The race in Vegas was captivating, with several drivers finding themselves in contention for the win. Fellow title contender Ross Chastain, led a race-high 68 laps, with the Trackhouse driver being passed by Logano with three laps to go.
The win means Logano becomes the first driver to secure his place in the final four of the playoffs, with three races remaining in the 2022 NASCAR season. This is also the fifth time Logano has progressed to the final four after making the cut in 2014, 2016, and 2020, with the Penske man winning the championship outright in 2018.
Logano storms through the field on fresher tyres
With 26 laps to go, Logano made the bold decision to pit to change all four of his tyres. While the ensuing pit stop dropped him out of the top 10, the fresher rubber enabled the Penske driver to storm through the field.
Logano’s tyre advantage allowed him to overtake Chastain three laps from the end and win the race by 0.817 of a second.
“What a great car, the Penske cars were all fast today,” Logano said after the race.
“Oh man, all you want to do is get to the Championship 4 before the season starts and race for the championship and we’ve got the team to do it. I don’t see why we can’t win it at this point. Things are looking really good for us.
“A lot of adversity we fought though in the last 50 laps or so. I thought we were going to win then kinda fell out, got some tires and racing Ross was fun. He did a good job air-blocking me and I was just trying to be patient but eventually, I was like, ‘I’ve got to go here.”
Wallace and Larson come to blows
The other main talking point from the race was the physical altercation that occurred between 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace and last year’s champion Kyle Larson.
The incident occurred on lap 94 when Larson in an attempt to overtake Wallace made contact with the 23XI driver pushing him into the wall. Wallace then apparently retaliated by locking into Larson’s right rear causing both drivers to spin.
Following the incident, Wallace then confronted Larson on track shoving him multiple times before the pair were separated.
“Larson wanted to make a three-wide divebomb. Never cleared me, and I don’t lift,” Wallace told NBC Sports after the incident.
“I know I’m kind of new to running at the front, but I don’t lift. I wasn’t even in a spot to lift and he never lifted either, and now we’re junk. Just piss-poor move on his execution.
“He knows that what he did was wrong. He wanted to question what I was doing. He never cleared me.”
Larson for his part stated he didn’t mean to hit Wallace, though he also admitted he expected Wallace to take an aggressive stance.
“I knew he was going to retaliate,” Larson said after the race.
“He had reason to be mad but his race wasn’t over until he retaliated. It is what it is. Just aggression turned into frustration and he retaliated.”
“I know he’s probably still upset but I’m sure with everything going on he’ll know he made a mistake in the retaliation part and I’m sure he’ll think twice about it next time.
“I saw him walking over [toward me] so I figured he’d do something. He had every right to be upset and I’d rather him do that [push me] than tear up our cars in a dangerous manner.’’
The incident also had unintended consequences for playoff contender Christopher Bell, who was collected by the duo.
With Logano booking his place in the final four, seven drivers are left to fight it out for the three remaining slots. Chastain, Chase Elliot, and Denny Hamlin are currently within the cut-off line, with Chase Briscoe, the aforementioned Bell, William Byron, and Ryan Blaney, who suffered a mechanical failure in spectacular fashion, now facing the prospect of elimination.
The round of the championship will take place this Sunday at Miami’s Homestead Speedway for NASCAR’s Dixie Vodka 400.
South Point 400 Top 10 Results
|1||Joey Logano||Team Penske||3:04’09.615|
|2||Ross Chastain||Trackhouse Racing||+0.817|
|3||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||+1.033|
|4||Chase Briscoe||Stewart-Haas Racing||+2.062|
|5||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||+3.432|
|6||Tyler Reddick||Richard Childress Racing||+3.775|
|7||Martin Treux Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||+4.547|
|8||Erik Jones||Petty GMS||+5.032|
|9||A.J. Allmendinger||Kaulig Racing||+5.101|
|10||Austin Dillion||Richard Childress Racing||+5.723|