Joey Logano spent the final 40-plus laps at Kansas Speedway keeping an eye on Kevin Harvick in his rear-view mirror.
Now he can look ahead to the NASCAR Cup Series finale at Phoenix.
Using every bit of the track to hold off the strongest driver of the season, Logano took the checkered flag Sunday to secure a spot in the championship round of the playoffs. Harvick was followed across by Alex Bowman and Brad Keselowski as postseason contenders swept the top four spots in the opener of the round of eight.
"It's on your mind every lap. You come into this race knowing if you win this thing you have an amazing advantage," said Logano, who experienced the same perk on his way to the 2018 title. "I can't believe it, especially the way the beginning of the race was going, running back there around 10th and not scoring any stage points."
Harvick, who has won nine times this season, kept pulling up to Logano's bumper after the final restart for a caution brought out by Tyler Reddick. But he simply couldn't make a pass stick as Logano moved all over the track to block him while taking advantage of lapped traffic that kept Harvick from making a clear run.
Kyle Busch was fifth and Chase Elliott, who won the opening stage, wound up sixth after dealing with radio problems that at one point caused him to mistakenly pit. Elliott tried using a backup radio and even resorted to hand signs with his team on pit road.
Harvick's second-place run was good for his own championship hopes. He now has a 41-point cushion over the cut line with two races left before the championship, while Denny Hamlin is 20 points above it after a mistake caused him to brush the wall and he wound up 15th. Keselowski is eight points above Chase Elliott, the first driver below the cut line.
Kokrak wins on PGA Tour
In his 10th season, after his 233rd tournament, Jason Kokrak can finally call himself a PGA Tour winner.
Kokrak earned every bit of it in the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in North Las Vegas. He matched the best round of the tournament with an 8-under 64 to overcome a three-shot deficit at the start and win a duel on the back nine with Xander Schauffele.
Kokrak led by two strokes when Schauffele made three straight birdies on the back nine. Schauffele fell away with a bogey on the par-5 16th, where Kokrak made par from a greenside bunker.
Mickelson makes it two on senior tour
Phil Mickelson became the third player and second this year to win his first two starts on the PGA Tour Champions, beating Mike Weir with a back-nine surge in the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va. Mickelson closed with a 7-under 65 to finish at 17-under 199, three strokes better than Weir, a fellow 50-year-old lefthander who had a 71. Mickelson joined Bruce Fleischer and Jim Furyk as the only players to win in their first two senior events. Fleischer did it in 1999, Furyk this year.
Iowa says no to demands
The University of Iowa said it would not pay a demand from eight Black former football players for $20 million in compensation for alleged racial discrimination they faced playing for the Hawkeyes.
The university general counsel's office released its response to a 21-page certified letter dated Oct. 5 from civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons of Tulsa, Okla., who is representing the players.
The letter said if the demands are not met by Monday, the former players are prepared to file a lawsuit.
Purdue coach tests positive
Purdue coach Jeff Brohm has tested positive for the coronavirus, the school announced.
Brohm is awaiting a second test to confirm the initial result and is isolating at his home. He is expected to speak with reporters during his regularly scheduled Zoom call Monday morning.
Gophers on the rise
The Gophers moved up three spots to No. 21 in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll and four spots to No. 21 in the Amway Coaches Poll. Michigan, Minnesota's opponent in Saturday night's season opener at TCF Bank Stadium, moved up one spot to No. 18 in the AP poll and two spots to No. 17 in the coaches poll. Clemson retained the top ranking, Alabama remained second, and Notre Dame rose to third.
AROUND THE HORN
Tennis: Alexander Zverev ended his 17-month wait for a title, defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-3 to win the Cologne Indoors in Germany. Zverev's previous title was at the clay-court Geneva Open in May 2019. He is 12-8 in career finals, one of the losses this fall in the U.S. Open. … Andrey Rublev joined Novak Djokovic as the only men to win four tour singles titles in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season as he beat Borna Coric 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the St. Petersburg Open in Russia.
Skiing: Norwegian Lucas Braathen, who had never finished in a World Cup podium position, improved from fifth place after the opening leg to clinch his first career win, in a men's World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria.
Baseball: Miami Marlins executive Michael Hill will not return as president of baseball operations, ending his 19-season tenure with the franchise.