NASCAR at Bristol 2015 Results: Winner, Standings, Highlights and Reaction – Bleacher Report

For the second year in a row, Joey Logano reigned supreme in the summer race at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Logano held off an onrushing Kevin Harvick late in the Irwin Tools Night Race on Saturday night to capture the checkered flag.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, the 25-year-old is the fourth driver since 2005 to win the event in back-to-back years.

At various points in the final 10 laps, less than 20 feet separated the Nos. 22 and 4 cars, but Logano was able to maneuver his way through the rest of the field and avoid any costly mistakes en route to Victory Lane. As Fox Sports’ Jay W. Pennell noted, Harvick wasn’t afraid to take some chances in a bid to grab the top spot:

Ultimately, it proved fruitless, as he finished 0.220 seconds behind Logano. NASCAR provided a replay of the final stretch:

You can view the top 10 finishers below:

Irwin Tools Night Race Results—Top 10
Pos. Driver
1 Joey Logano
2 Kevin Harvick
3 Denny Hamlin
4 Jimmie Johnson
5 Clint Bowyer
6 Brad Keselowski
7 Carl Edwards
8 Kyle Busch
9 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
10 Ryan Newman

Source: NASCAR.com

With the win, Logano moves up to third in the Sprint Cup standings. Only Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch have more victories:

2015 Sprint Cup Chase Standings—Post-Irwin Tools Night Race
Pos. Driver Wins Points
1 Jimmie Johnson 4 792
2 Kyle Busch 4 433
3 Joey Logano 3 865
4 Matt Kenseth 3 753
5 Kevin Harvick 2 908
6 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2 819
7 Kurt Busch 2 713
8 Brad Keselowski 1 793
9 Martin Truex Jr. 1 771
10 Denny Hamlin 1 712
11 Carl Edwards 1 666
12 Jamie McMurray 0 696
13 Ryan Newman 0 683
14 Paul Menard 0 674
15 Jeff Gordon 0 672
16 Clint Bowyer 0 655

Source: NASCAR.com

Nobody will doubt Logano was the best driver on the track. He led 176 of the 500 laps, a total only eclipsed by Busch (192 laps led). Brad Keselowski enjoyed a brief stay atop the leaderboard, but his enjoyment was only brief as Logano quickly regained the lead with a little less than 50 laps to go.

From there, Logano and Harvick engaged in a great chess match to determine the winner. NASCAR was thrilled to follow the final battle:

While normally you give the advantage to the driver in front, you could make a strong argument Harvick was actually in a position of strength with the nature of the Bristol Motor Speedway. Logano had to determine the best routes around the cars not on the lead lap, while Harvick could simply watch Logano and do the opposite.

Friday night’s Xfinity Series race also illustrated how treacherous the P1 position can be after Chris Buescher lost the lead immediately after a restart during a green-white-checkered finish.

What really helped Logano was the absence of many late cautions. An abundance of yellow flags could’ve spelled trouble, but eight total cautions isn’t a gaudy total for a track such as Bristol. Logano was afforded a rather smooth road to the finish line.

For Harvick, the result is somewhat bittersweet. On one hand, he set a career high for top-five finishes in a season, per Stewart-Haas Racing:

On the other hand, he continues to be extremely close to Victory Lane, only to fall just short, per ESPN Stats & Info:

At least Harvick had better luck than Busch, who earned a penalty on Lap 433 for speeding on pit road. As a result, he was bumped back down the field. After serving his punishment, Busch failed to regain his position at the top of the pack and finished eighth.

Needless to say, both Busch and his crew chief, Adam Stevens, were apoplectic after learning of the infraction, per USA Today‘s Jeff Gluck and NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan:

The No. 18 car remains in the points standings’ top 30, which is all he needs to do in order to qualify for the Chase. With only five more races until the Contender Round, you can understand why Busch and his crew are feeling the pressure. Now isn’t the time to make mental mistakes.

The Sprint Cup circuit will take a well-deserved break before getting back to action. The Bojangles’ Southern 500 is scheduled for Sept. 6 at Darlington Raceway. Harvick will enter as the defending champion.

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