Racer Joey Logano. Photo by Joe Marino-Bill Cantrell/UPI | License Photo
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Joey Logano repeated as winner of the Hellmann's 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, joining Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick as Chase for the Sprint Cup second-round race winners to advance to the third round, Round of Eight, of the Chase.
"A good Shell/Pennzoil Ford," Logano said. "Todd (Gordon, crew chief) made some good adjustments during the race and found some speed in the car, so that was pretty neat to see some of that."
Non-Chaser, Brian Scott, posted a career-best, runner-up finish, restarting on the front row next to Logano in overtime for a two-lap sprint to the finish and maintaining his position. It was Scott's first-career Sprint Cup top-five finish.
With the Talladega race being the second-round Chase elimination race, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski were eliminated from the Chase with Sunday's checkered flag.
"We had a tremendous race going, but it wasn't meant to be," Keselowski said.
After winning two of the three first-round races, Truex's 2016 championship hopes went up in smoke early Sunday when his engine blew on lap 41.
"Just developed a vibration and started to lose a little bit of power," Truex said. "Originally, I thought it could have been a tire, because it was shaking worse and worse and worse until it was time to pit. I slowed down to hit pit road and felt the vibration still there and knew it was the engine. Definitely not the way we wanted today to go. It's a tough way to go out, but proud of the effort and proud of all the guys."
Keselowski dominated before suffering a fate similar to Truex. Keselowski led 90 laps before his engine expired on lap 145.
"It looks like we lost an engine," Keselowski said. "I'm pretty confident I lost a rod or something in the lower end. That's just the way it goes."
Logano picked up where his Team Penske teammate, Keselowski, left off. He assumed the lead during the caution for Keselowski's blown engine and led most of the remaining laps. At the end of the race, Logano was credited with 45 laps led.
"We got that track position and just hung onto it," Logano said. "I was able to stay on the bottom and try to run the bottom and keep everyone in line, and that worked out really well."
With Truex and Keselowski's Chase advancement chances virtually eliminated and Elliott needing to win to advance, the final elimination spot came down to a battle between Denny Hamlin and Dillon. The two didn't battle side-by-side or nose-to-tail on the race track, as Hamlin ran mostly inside the top-five in the closing laps while Dillon ran around the 10th position, but their points positions kept them tight.
In the end, the two drivers tied on points, but Hamlin took the advancing spot on a tie-breaker. Hamlin finished third, and Dillon also finished in the top-10, taking ninth.
Other top-10 finishers included Kurt Busch in fourth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in fifth, Kyle Larson sixth, Kevin Harvick seventh, Aric Almirola eighth and A.J. Allmendinger in 10th.
The yellow flag resulting from Truex's blown engine was the only caution of the first half of the race, but in the end, the yellow flag waved a total of six times, with five cautions between lap 114 and lap 186 of the race scheduled for a 188-lap distance.
Despite the cautions in the second half of the race, none were for huge multi-car wrecks. The biggest wreck was a three-car incident involving Casey Mears, Greg Biffle and Jeffrey Earnhardt.
NOTES: NASCAR confiscated the left-front jack screw from the No. 78 Furniture Racing Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. during pre-qualifying inspection on Saturday. After replacing the part, Truex won the pole. ... Three of the four Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas -- the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin, the No. 18 of Kyle Busch and the No. 20 of Matt Kenseth -- also had trouble getting through pre-qualifying inspection because of body modification rules infractions in the rear decklid area of the cars. ... The Hellmann's 500 was the 1,000th NASCAR national-level race for Toyota. ... Brad Keselowski won the two most recent restrictor-plate races, including one at Talladega Superspeedway in May. ... Joey Logano's win in last year's Hellmann's 500 capped off a string of wins in all three races that made up the second round of the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup. ... Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson already were guaranteed spots in the third round of the Chase by virtue of wins in the previous two races of the second round. ... Austin Dillon, Hamlin, Keselowski and Chase Elliott were the four drivers in provisional Chase elimination spots heading into the second-round Chase elimination race at Talladega. Dillon, though, was tied with Logano, points-wise, but Logano was credited as being the last driver in a provisional advancing position.