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Logano boosts Chase bid with Sprint Cup win

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Joey Logano gave Ford a Sprint Cup sweep in Michigan and enabled team owner Roger Penske to celebrate a victory in the state in which he lives.

Now Logano, 23, can start to envision a happy finish to an eventful season. "We're close, we're close," he said. "What a great place to win. What a great time to win, being in Ford's back yard."

Logano boosted his chances of reaching NASCAR's Chase for the Championship, winning for the first time this season in a fuel-mileage race Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

Logano and Kevin Harvick breezed past Mark Martin with just over three laps to go in the 200-lap Pure Michigan 400. Martin had been trying to stretch fuel, but when he faltered, Logano was able to hold off Harvick.

"I go back about 30 years here at the track," said Penske, a longtime Michigan resident who owned the track in the early 1970s. "This is probably one of the biggest wins."

The win lifted Logano to 13th in the standings, seven points behind Martin Truex for the second wild card spot in the Chase.

It has been an up-and-down year for Logano. He and teammate Brad Keselowski were docked 25 points each after inspectors confiscated parts from the rear suspensions of their cars before the April 13 race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Last month Logano had back-to-back 40th-place runs in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona and in the race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

"A roller coaster, to say the least," he said. "We've just got to keep that momentum going. It just goes to show, as long as nothing goes wrong — knock on wood — we've been pretty good."

Logano won the pole Friday, led a race-high 51 laps and took the race by a second over Harvick, who is fourth in points and seems a safe Chase bet.

"I was very pleased with the day," Harvick said. "It's just going to come down to getting on a hot streak over 10 weeks and not making any mistakes."

With three races before the Chase, the jockeying for the final spots continued. Keselowski, the defending champion, is eighth with 667 points. Kurt Busch rose from 11th to ninth, into a Chase spot, after finishing third.

Greg Biffle (663) is 10th. Kasey Kahne (659, 11th) and Truex (653, 12th) are the current wild cards.

Points leader Jimmie Johnson ran 54 laps before engine trouble knocked him out. He still has a 41-point lead over Clint Bowyer. Johnson finished 40th and is winless in 24 Cup starts at Michigan. His lost weekend began when a practice crash Saturday forced him to use a backup car and start in the back.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit the wall on Lap 135 after his right front tire failed; he was 36th. Biffle led 28 laps but finished ninth after winning the previous two Cup races at Michigan.

Martin, 54, emerged late in a bid for his first Cup win since 2009. His team gambled on fuel, but he ran out with four laps left. He finished 27th. "We saved a bunch of gas, but we needed one more yellow," Martin said.

Tampa's Aric Almirola finished 18th; Zephyrhills' David Reutimann was 38th.

Martin for Stewart? Martin will sub for injured Tony Stewart starting next weekend, reported. Michael Waltrip Racing will let Martin move to the No. 14 car to give more races to Brian Vickers, who shares the No. 55 with Martin and is signed to be its full-time driver next season, the website said. An announcement was expected today. Stewart broke a leg this month in a sprint car crash.

Gearhead stats

Winner's average speed: 144.593 mph

Time of race: 2 hours, 45 minutes, 59 seconds

Margin of victory: 1.018 seconds

Caution flags: Nine for 34 laps

Lead changes: 20 among 13 drivers

Lap leaders: Ku.Busch 1-5; Logano 6-32; Ku.Busch 33-41; Earnhardt Jr. 42; Johnson 43-45; Ambrose 46; Bayne 47; Hamlin 48-51; Mears 52-53; Earnhardt Jr. 54-72; Hamlin 73-77; Ku.Busch 78-106; Keselowski 107; Ragan 108; Biffle 109-136; Gilliland 137; Logano 138-157; Keselowski 158-173; Martin 174-196; Logano 197-200

Sprint Cup points

After 23 of 36 races. The top 10 in points plus two wild cards after 26 races make the Chase for the Championship. An asterisk (*) designates wild card leaders; # — clinched spot:

Driver Pts. Back

#Jimmie Johnson 813—

Clint Bowyer 772 41

Carl Edwards 762 51

Kevin Harvick 749 64

Kyle Busch 706 107

Matt Kenseth 688 125

Dale Earnhardt Jr. 679 134

Brad Keselowski 667 146

Kurt Busch 665 148

Greg Biffle 663 150

Kasey Kahne* 659 154

Martin Truex* 653 160

Joey Logano 646 167

Jeff Gordon 637 176

Ryan Newman 636 177

Note: Points unofficial; NASCAR posts official results today

Logano boosts Chase bid with Sprint Cup win 08/18/13 [Last modified: Sunday, August 18, 2013 11:50pm]
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