TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — As Joey Logano made his third straight trip to victory lane, questions swirled about reigning Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick’s late-race tactics.
Several competitors accused Harvick of intentionally causing a race-ending caution Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, where Logano completed a sweep of the second round of NASCAR’s playoffs.
It came at the expense of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship at his best track for the second consecutive year. Earnhardt led a race-high 61 laps, but had to settle for second in a race he had to win when the Harvick-triggered crash ended the race under caution.
NASCAR’s most popular driver did not question his fate.
“When the race is over, I can live with the result as long as everyone else is going by the same rules,” Earnhardt said. “I felt like per the rule book, it sorted out and I finished second. I’m OK with that.”
NASCAR said this week it would make just one attempt at Talladega to finish the race under green instead of the usual three tries in a nod toward creating a safer racing environment. Drivers were almost unanimous in their support of the change, even when it came into play in a race that cut four drivers from the Chase field.
Eliminated Sunday were Earnhardt, Ryan Newman — the runner-up to Harvick last year — and Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin. JGR was considered a heavy favorite in this Chase after a dominating regular season, but had two of four drivers eliminated Sunday and both were furious with Harvick.