RIDGEWAY, Va. - Joey Logano secured the first birth in the final round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Sunday, Oct. 28,winning the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
The victory in the opening event of the three-race Round of 8 Cup playoffs was the Team Penske driver's second of the season and first of the playoffs.
With his spot in the Championship 4 secure, Logano will race for his first Cup championship at the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in three weeks.
In order to get the spot, Logano had to fend off defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. as the two ran nose to tail and door to door over the final 10 laps.
Truex actually took the white flag and was clear of Logano on the final back straightaway. But Logano go to Truex's bumper entering Turn 3 then did a better job of keeping his car straight on the final dash to the finish line as he and Truex viciously banged doors, Truex nearly going sideways.
"Just thinking about Miami," Logano told the media about his thoughts over the final, metal-bending laps. "Thinking about how we can win a championship with this car."
The win was not a popular one with fans as the crowd at Martinsville showered him with boos after the contact-marred final laps.
After the race, Truex - who finished third as Denny Hamlin passed him while he was getting loose - was thinking about revenge.
"He may have won the battle but he didn't win the war," Truex, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota, said. "I'm just not going to let him win (the championship). I'm going to win it."
Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs racing finished fourth and Logano's Penske teammate Brad Keselowski was fifth. Hamlin and Keselowski are out of championship contention.
Busch started the race from the pole and led until he was passed by Hamlin on Lap 31. Busch regained his lead during the first pit stops of the day and held the spot until Hamlin overtook him with 15 laps to go in Stage 1. From there, Hamlin sprinted to the stage victory.
Logano earned his first lead of the day when he beat the field out of the pits during the caution between stages. Once out front, he led every lap in winning Stage 2.
Busch, Truex and Kevin Harvick left Martinsville as top point scorers behind Logano.