Joey Logano took the other Talladega golden ticket after scoring the victory in America’s heartland.
The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford scored the victory after sending Matt Kenseth for a spin with five laps to go.
“It’s just good hard racing,” he said of his racing with Kenseth. “He raced me hard, so I raced him hard back. The fact that we’re the only team that can relax now is going to pay big dividends going into Martinsville. To make a lot of these guys nervous going into Talladega is part of the strategy.”
After leading 153 laps, Matt Kenseth finished a disappointing 14th in his No. 20 JGR Toyota.
“It’s hard to drive a car with the rear tires off the ground. I was moving around the best I could, Joey (Logano) was a lot tighter, a lot faster on the short run, but we were so much better on the long run. I could still kind of get up to the top and get a run and get around him. We caught those two lapped cars, ‘Crazy’ (spotter) told me I was clear and I was, I pulled up in front of him and he just lifted my tires off the ground and he wrecked us,” Kenseth said.
Denny Hamlin drove his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) Toyota to a runner-up finish. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne finished third and fourth and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five.
Kurt Busch finished sixth, followed by Ryan Blaney in seventh, Carl Edwards in eighth, Brad Keselowski was ninth and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top-10.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the Chase drivers with a 21st-place finish in his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
There were 21 lead changes among nine different drivers with seven cautions for 39 laps. The race lasted for two hours, 58 minutes and 22 seconds at an average speed of 135.732 mph.
Logano leaves Kansas with a 13-point lead over Denny Hamlin. Kurt Busch leaves in third 18-points back and Carl Edwards is fourth 19 points back. Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski leave tied for fifth, 24 points back. Martin Truex Jr. leaves in eighth, 25-points back. Kyle Busch is ninth trailing the Contender Round cutoff by six-points. Ryan Newman leaves in 10th trailing the cutoff by eight points. Dale Earnhardt Jr. leaves Kansas in 11th trailing the cutoff by 31-points with Kenseth in 12th trailing the cutoff by 35 points.
Realistically, Earnhardt and Kenseth head to Talladega needing to win the race in order to advance to the Eliminator Round. Kyle Busch and Newman could race their way in without winning.
Next up is the Alabama roulette wheel (I really hope that catches on) known as Talladega Superspeedway.