NASCAR: Logano, Berry punch tickets to Championship 4s in NCS, XFS

(Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service/ Team Penske’s Joey Logano became the first driver to secure a position in the Championship 4 with a shot at the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series championship thanks to a valiant surge to victory in the final laps of Sunday‘s South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Logano, on fresh Goodyear tires, rallied back through the field following a late race pit stop, passing Trackhouse Racing driver Ross Chastain for the lead with three laps remaining and driving off to his third win at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas high banks – a slight 0.817-second ahead of fellow playoff driver Chastain, who led a race-best 68 of the 267 laps on the afternoon.

It was a wild action-packed day at the Las Vegas oval with the eight playoff drivers experiencing both sides of emotion. Five of them were among the 11 race leaders at various points in the afternoon. And four finished in the top five.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver and Las Vegas native Kyle Busch, who had some pit road issues, finished third, followed by a pair of playoff drivers: Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Chase Briscoe and Joe Gibbs Racing‘s Denny Hamlin, who rounded out the top five. It was an especially impressive performance for Hamlin, who started 31st.

Elliott went into this three-race round leading the standings and after Vegas dropped to third in the championship, 17 points above the cutoff line. Logano earned the automatic advancement Sunday and Chastain is now in second place, 18 points up.

Hamlin‘s top five was good enough to move him into that important fourth place in the championship — six points up on Byron. The 4 “Bs” are now all in the bottom half of the playoff points. Briscoe is nine points behind Hamlin, Blaney 11 back and Bell is 23 points off the pace.

Follow this link to the MRN website for a complete recap of Sunday’s action and the resulting playoff fallout.

(Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service/ Josh Berry‘s resume would indicate he‘s a top-shelf short track racer, but the JR Motorsports driver may need to expand that profile. Berry‘s No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet led a commanding 65 laps en route to the win in the Alsco Uniforms 302 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Saturday — his second victory in the last three races on the high-banked 1.5-miler.

Berry took the lead from AJ Allmendinger with 34 laps remaining — the pair racing hard side-by-side at the front of the field on a late race restart. Berry even got shoved into the outside wall before recovering and moving into the lead for his fifth career win.

Las Vegas native Noah Gragson — who led a race best 87 laps and earned his season-leading 14th stage win — finished second, 1.125 seconds behind Berry. Justin Allgaier was third, solidifying a JR Motorsports 1-2-3 podium-sweeping effort.

The win is hugely significant, earning Berry the automatic position in the Championship 4 in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 5 — his first opportunity to race for the season title.

With Berry‘s win and automatic berth into the Championship 4, Gragson now leads the standings by 19 points over Ty Gibbs and 29 points ahead of Allgaier.

Hill (-15), Allmendinger (-16), Jones (-29), and Mayer (-36) head into the next round needing to make up points with two races remaining — at Homestead-Miami and Martinsville — to set the four-car championship lineup for Phoenix.

For a look back at Saturday’s race and more, follow this link to MRN’s website.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:30 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, and cats Oliver, Bow and Libby.

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