BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Joey Logano is looking more and more like a Sprint Cup title contender.

Logano surged past Matt Kenseth with 44 laps to go and won for the first time at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night, foiling the 2003 series champion's gambling attempt to secure a spot in NASCAR's playoffs.

Logano, just 24, became the fifth driver this season to win three times, joining the Hendrick Motorsports trio of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski, who finished second.

"It's awesome," Logano said. "I've never won more than one race in a season, and now I've won three."

Is there a message in that heading into the Chase for the championship in two weeks?

"That we can win the thing," Logano said.

He gained the top spot when Kenseth elected to stay on the track when most of the field pitted after a caution flag with 67 laps to go, picking track position and fresh air over new tires. It seemed like a strategy that could work at the 0.533-mile oval.

"I just knew that clean air was going to be worth more than new tires," Kenseth said of his decision after finishing third. He said he also felt his car wasn't as strong as he liked on fresh tires, and first Logano and then Keselowski foiled his plan.

"They cleared everybody way too fast," Kenseth said.

He still remains in great position to make the playoffs, standing fifth in the points race and first among non-winners.


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Keselowski never made a serious bid to overtake Logano, though he did pull up to his bumper on the last lap.

"The last lap I just dive-bombed it in there on a prayer," Keselowski said. "But it really wasn't that close."

Johnson, slowed early by two pit road speeding penalties, rallied to finish fourth, and Kurt Busch was fifth.

Gordon remained the points leader despite a 16th-place run. He's 27 clear of Earnhardt and 42 ahead of Keselowski.

Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin got spun out by Kevin Harvick and wrecked while racing as the leader. Hamlin later fired his HANS device at Harvick's car as it passed under caution.

Hamlin appeared to adhere to NASCAR's new rule of staying in your damaged car until safety crews arrive, and photos showed he was on the apron when he banked the seat restraint off Harvick's car.

The accident happened as Hamlin was taking the high line through a turn and Harvick was sliding up from below to get into line. Instead, he clipped the left rear of Hamlin's car, sending it spinning and into the wall. Earnhardt also got collected and suffered significant damage, eventually returning to the race about 150 laps off the leaders.

"I just wish I had some kind of car left so I could show him the favor back," Hamlin said of Harvick. "I'm just frustrated because we had a good run going."

Harvick radioed Hamlin's team apologizing and accepting blame for the incident.