NASCAR Cup Series

Joey Logano clinches spot in Championship 4 with victory at Las Vegas

October 16

By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer

LAS VEGAS — The unpredictable 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs continued in unpredictable fashion Sunday, except for Joey Logano knowing that he will compete for a title.

Logano won the semifinal round opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to advance to the Championship 4 for the fifth time, all in even years: 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020 and now 2022.

The 2018 Cup champion will be one of the four drivers eligible for the title in the season finale Nov. 6 at Phoenix Raceway.

"I guess that's an OK average," Logano said about making the championship round for the fifth time in nine years. "I wish it was every year. Maybe that's the greed in myself. But ... it feels good to be able to get into Victory Lane and race for a championship when we get to Phoenix for sure."

Joey Logano passes Ross Chastain late to win at Las Vegas

Joey Logano earned the win Sunday at Las Vegas and advanced to the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.

While Logano celebrated, half of the eight semifinalists left frustrated, as Christopher Bell's day ended in a wreck, Ryan Blaney finished 28th, limping home after slapping the wall, and William Byron (13th) and Chase Elliott (21st) just had bad days.

Bell was collected in an accident between Kyle Larson and Bubba Wallace, which ended with Wallace shoving Larson.

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Here are three takeaways from Las Vegas:

Wallace-Larson frustration

As they battled among the lead pack, Larson pinched Wallace into the wall, and then Wallace hooked Larson. Wallace then got out of his car and walked to Larson’s car, where he shoved him a few times.

Wallace could face further sanctions from NASCAR, which will look at the accident, his walking away from the safety crews to Larson and the shoves.

"He never cleared me," Wallace said. "I don’t lift. I know I’m kind of new to running up front, but I don’t lift. I wasn’t even in a spot to lift, he never lifted either, and now we are junk. Piss-poor move on his execution."

Wallace said he lost his steering.

"When you get shoved in the fence, deliberately like he did, trying to force me to lift — the steering was gone, and he just so happened to be there," he said.

Kyle Larson and Bubba Wallace fight after wreck at Las Vegas

Kyle Larson and Bubba Wallace fought on the track after wrecking off Turn 4 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Larson didn’t buy that explanation and thought he was hooked on purpose. As for whether Wallace should be penalized further, Larson had mixed emotions.

"I don’t want to be the one to judge that," he said. "I don’t like seeing it. ... I don’t want to see him be penalized, either, but until they do something, it could potentially keep happening."

Larson said Wallace had reason to be angry with him and he would prefer to be shoved physically than hooked on the racetrack, resulting in a hard crash.

"He had every right to be upset," Larson said of the fight. "I would rather him do that than tear up our cars in a dangerous manner." 

Bell was frustrated that he got caught up in it but wouldn’t weigh in on whether Wallace should face further discipline.

"I don’t know," he said when asked if Wallace should be penalized. "Follow protocol with whatever they’ve done in the past."

Should Bubba Wallace be penalized for hooking and shoving Kyle Larson?

Fast Thoughts with Bob Pockrass: Should Bubba Wallace be penalized for his fight with Kyle Larson?

Logano’s rally

Logano, running seventh when the caution came out with 25 laps left, opted to pit for two tires while those ahead of him stayed out.

That put him in 12th, and he rallied to pass Ross Chastain with three laps remaining for the win. The fresh tires gave him enough speed to finish the rally.

"I didn’t think [we would win]," Logano said. "We were pretty far back. ... We had a really fast car. That’s what made it all work." 

The victory was Logano’s third of the year.

Joey Logano on his late race strategy at Las Vegas

Joey Logano wasn’t confident he would win when he took a couple of fresh tires late in the race at Vegas, but he said the playoffs bring out the best in drivers.

Blaney, Bell in hole

The two drivers in the biggest holes are Blaney (11 points behind the cutline) and Bell (23 behind).

Blaney earned 16 stage points in the first two stages, but then he got loose and hit the wall in the final stage.

"I was just trying to save fuel and trying to maintain," he said. "I just got loose. I was feeling pretty good about it [until then]. It’s unfortunate the way it ended."

Ryan Blaney on his incident Sunday at Las Vegas

Ryan Blaney explains what happened Sunday at Las Vegas and how he felt leading up to that point.

Bell won a week ago on the Charlotte road course in a must-win situation and now needs to perform at Homestead and Martinsville, the final two races of the round.

"Our performance will be capable of racing for a win at least," he said. 

Christopher Bell on his playoff experience

Christopher Bell said his playoff experience in other series is enough, and the fact that this is his first Round of 8 in Cup shouldn’t matter.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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