Add another name to the Chase conversation.
Joey Logano started Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from the pole, and after a convoluted mix of strategy and racing incidents, it was Logano who claimed the victory and established himself as a contender for a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
The victory was Logano's first of the season, his first at Michigan, his first for Penske Racing and the third of his career. Kevin Harvick ran second, followed by Kurt Busch, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer.
The victory moved Logano from 16th to 13th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings, 17 points out of 10th place. The youngest winner in MIS history also is in play for a Wild Card, with two spots available to the drivers in positions 11-20 in the standings with the most victories.
Mark Martin took off after a restart on Lap 178, as Kurt Busch, Logano and Harvick battled for the second spot behind him. But Martin was short on field, and after the running order shuffled out with Logano in second and Harvick in third, the pursuers began to close in on the leader.
When Martin slowed in Turn 3 on Lap 197, Logano shot past him into the lead with Harvick in hot pursuit. But it was Logano who took the checkered flag by 1.018 seconds over the No. 29 Chevrolet.
Series leader Jimmie Johnson couldn't exorcise his Michigan jinx. After wrecking his primary car in Saturday's practice, Johnson started Sunday's race from the rear of the field in a backup car. He took the lead on Lap 43 during a cycle of green-flag pit stops, but shortly thereafter Johnson exited the race because of an engine failure.
"The engine broke there," Johnson said after bringing the car to the garage. "I guess when we came in for a green-flag pit stop, something started then and made it a few more laps and didn't really notice anything off.
"Then it finally dropped a cylinder or two down the backstretch. Definitely an unfortunate thing, but we had plenty of speed in the car and I think we were going to be a factor."
Johnson could afford that sort of failure, having locked himself into the Chase last week at Watkins Glen. The same couldn't be said of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., who smacked the Turn 2 wall on Lap 135 -- after leading 20 circuits earlier in the race -- and took his crippled car to the garage for repairs.
Earnhardt finished 36th and dropped from sixth to seventh in the standings, 20 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne with three races left before the Chase field is set at Richmond.