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Using every bit of the track Sunday to hold off the winningest driver this season, Joey Logano took the checkered flag on a cold, blustery Sunday to secure a spot in the championship round of the playoffs. Kevin Harvick was followed across by Alex Bowman and Brad Keselowski as postseason contenders swept the top four spots in the opener of the round of eight.

 

Harvick, who already has won nine times this season, kept pulling up to Logano’s bumper after the final restart for a caution brought out by Tyler Reddick. But he simply couldn’t make a pass stick as Logano moved all over the track to block him while taking advantage of lapped traffic that kept Harvick from making a clear run.

 

Just none of them worked to get around Logano, who picked up his third win of the season and first since the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced the capacity to about 10,000 fans for Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway.

 

Kyle Busch was fifth and 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 even 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. Kansas native Clint Bowyer, who is retiring after the season and taking a spot in the Fox Sports commentary booth, was competitive early but wound up finishing 26th in what could be his final race at his home track.

 

Harvick’s second-place run was good for his own championship hopes. He now has a 41-point cushion over the cut line with two races left before the championship, while Denny Hamlin is 20 points above it after a mistake caused him to brush the wall and he wound up 15th. Keselowski is eight points above Elliott, the first driver below the cut line.

 

Bowman is 27 points below, Truex is 31 points behind and Kurt Busch is 73 points back after blowing his engine Sunday.

 

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, he began to notice a problem in his car. His engine finally gave out with a belch of smoke heading into Turn 1 with 68 laps left, leaving him in a win-or-else situation at Texas and Martinsville.

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