FORT WORTH, TX. - A trio of Blue Ovals finished inside the top-10, led by playoff driver Brad Keselowski in fourth in the opening race of the Round of 8 from Texas Motor Speedway.
Keselowski’s Team Penske partner and fellow playoff driver Ryan Blaney was 6th, while Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick posted a fifth-place effort.
Kyle Larson (Chevrolet) clinched the first Championship 4 spot, with his victory, leading 255 of the 334 laps in the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500, driving the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to his series-best eighth victory of the season.
Joey Logano absorbed the worst finish among the eight title-eligible drivers, taking his No. 22 Team Penske Ford to the garage with engine failure after completing 298 laps. He wound up 30th in the 39-car field.
The NASCAR Cup Series’ next race is the Hollywood Casino 400, scheduled next Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App MRN, SiriusXM) at Kansas Speedway. It’s the middle event in the three-race Round of 8.
PLAYOFF STANDINGS AFTER TEXAS RACE
Kyle Larson 4123
Ryan Blaney 4072
Denny Hamlin 4064
Kyle Busch 4063
Chase Elliott 4055
Brad Keselowski 4048
Martin Truex Jr. 4041
Joey Logano 4020
NCS RACE TOP-10 FINISHERS
Kyle Larson (P)
Brad Keselowsk (P)
Ryan Blaney (P)
Chase Elliott (P)
Kyle Busch (P)
REMAINING FORD FINISHERS
13th - Matt DiBenedetto
15th - Chase Briscoe
17th - Michael McDowell
18th - Aric Almirola
19th - Cole Custer
21st - Chris Buescher
22nd - BJ McLeod
23rd - David Starr
26th - Josh Bilicki
29th - Anthony Alfredo
30th - Joey Logano (P)
35th - Ryan Newman
(P) denotes playoff eligible driver
RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 DEX Imaging Ford Mustang (Finished 6th)
A SIXTH-PLACE FINISH TODAY MEANS YOU ARE NOW SECOND IN THE POINTS AS YOU HEAD TO KANSAS. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR PERFORMANCE TODAY OVERALL?
“It was a pretty decent day. I didn’t think we had winning speed today. I thought the 5 was pretty incredible and the 24 was fast too. The 2 and me, I thought we were pretty good. Probably the third or fourth place cars. All the late race restarts at the end get so wild and crazy and you have no idea what is going to happen and who is going to get checked up and stuff like that. Not a bad day. We got good stage points and finished good and we will move on to Kansas.”
BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Discount Tired Ford Mustang (Finished 4th)
YOU LOOKED LIKE THE ONLY CAR THAT COULD CONTEND WITH THE 24 AND 5. WHAT MORE DID YOU NEED?
“Well, we didn’t need all those yellows. We had the car balanced really well with the Discount Tire Ford on the long runs. The last few times we have been here you get 40 or 50 or 100 lap runs at the end but today, geez, we didn’t run more than two laps at a time for the last 45 or 50 laps. That is just not what we needed. We needed the long runs to be able to keep them honest. We had long run speed but the 5 and 24 were just blistering fast on the restart and drove away from me. I just wanted some laps to let their stuff wear down.”
YOU CAME IN 16 POINTS BELOW THE CUT LINE AND YOU LEAVE 15 POINTS BELOW. YOU GAINED A POINT AFTER ALL OF THAT:
“We gained a point but we moved up from eighth to sixth so that is a nice little win for us and gives us a better pit stall for next week. If we can keep running like that and scoring high 30’s or low 40’s in points then I think we will transfer in.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford Mustang -- (Retired on Lap 298 with engine issue) -- Finished 30th
DID YOU HAVE ANY WARNING THAT THE CAR WAS GOING TO BLOW UP?
“I thought it was starting to maybe give up a little bit of power in that run. We were just getting passed. Not really though. It just kind of let go. It is one of those days when nothing went right. The strategy didn’t go the way we wanted it to early in the race. Cautions didn’t fall the way we hoped they would and every time we started fighting our way back something happened and we ended up like this. Now we know what we have to do these next two weeks. We better go find a way to win.”
“It was a grind. We had a good start of the race and rode it up there to second and then we put two tires on and the car got real loose and we lost track position that run. We started making gains and we had a caution that fell right after we pitted and put us down a lap at the wave around. That happened a couple of times. We came back from the rear three times throughout the race. I’d like to know how we would be if we just picked it up and put it in a top-three spot. Maybe we would be okay. We have to move on. It is what it is now. We can’t change it. Not many points today, so that is a bummer. We will be fighting from here.”
WHAT IS THE ‘HOLY CRAP’ MOMENT WHEN SMOKE IS POURING OUT OF YOUR CAR?
“I don't know if it is a holy crap moment. It is just a real letdown moment. I said it earlier but Roush Yates has built us good motors. I don't have any room to complain. We haven’t blown one up in years. At least not on the 22 car. It is bad timing, I will say that, but it is what it is.”
A LITTLE CONTACT WITH HAMLIN THERE RIGHT BEFORE THIS HAPPENED. DID THAT IMPACT YOUR CAR?
“A little bit. It didn’t help. But he does that all the time. I will have to race the same way. He has hit me in the left rear quite a few times. It is what it is.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE MAYBE THEY TWEAKED THE MOTORS TO TRY TO GET FASTER?
“We are in a position that we have to fight. If you look at where the Hendrick cars are, they are faster than us. I don't know what broke. We just got out of the car so it is hard to say what it was.”
DO YOU FEEL BETTER GOING INTO KANSAS KNOWING THAT TEAM PENSKE HAD SOME GOOD SPEED ON THIS 1.5 MILE TRACK TODAY?
“Yeah, it helps us feel a little more confident. I think that was probably one of the best 1.5 mile tracks we have had. It has been that way of late, making steady gains. It looks like the 5 and 24 are the best of the field but there are times the 12 and 2 can get up there. We were just fighting track position all day. If we could have gotten track position I wonder what it would have looked like”