CONCORD, N.C. — Joey Logano has been to Victory Lane four times this season, and all four trips required him to beat reigning Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick.

The latest win, Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, was a critical and confidence-building victory. He again shrugged off Harvick to earn an automatic berth into the third round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Harvick, who has 11 second-place finishes this season, has been runner-up to Logano three times. He finished third in Logano’s win at Watkins Glen, where Harvick ran out of gas while leading on the last lap.

“When you can beat (Harvick) any day, any time, that’s a big deal for us,” team owner Roger Penske said. “I think that it was good that we could at least be on a level playing field with him today.”

Harvick led 581 laps in the opening round of the Chase and routed the field last week at Dover to advance to the second round. But he never made it to the front at Charlotte, as Logano led 227 of the 334 laps.

Now Logano, who made it to the finale last season, doesn’t have to worry about this daunting second round of the Chase. The series races next week at Kansas, and then four drivers will be eliminated Oct. 25 at Talladega.

“It helps us sleep here the next couple of weeks,” Logano said. “This helps us recharge our batteries and get ready for the next round.”

He feels good right now, but isn’t crowing about his head-to-head success this season against Harvick.

“I think there’s a lot of fast race cars out there right now,” Logano said. “Last week, obviously, (Harvick) was dominant. This week we had a really fast car. Next week, who knows? You can’t rely on anything.”

Harvick was satisfied with second after struggling all weekend.

“If those are the off days, we’ll be just fine,” Harvick said.

Martin Truex Jr. finished third – his career-best eighth top-five of the season.

The top six finishers were Chase drivers, as Denny Hamlin finished fourth and was followed by Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards.

Austin Dillon, who is not racing for the title, was seventh. Jeff Gordon, making the final start of his career at Charlotte, struggled for the first half of the race but salvaged an eighth-place finish.

It was a far more difficult day for JGR drivers Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch, who started side-by-side on the front row.

Kenseth’s race began to unravel when he missed his pit stall and fell back to 20th on a restart. From there, while racing in traffic, he had contact with Ryan Newman that sent him into the wall. It was the first of many brushes with the wall for Kenseth, who was finally put out of his misery when a broken part sent him into the wall – again – and to the garage. He finished 42nd.

Things weren’t much better for Kyle Busch, who was running third when a caution forced teams to choose a pit strategy. Busch headed toward pit road, then changed his mind at the very last second. But Kyle Larson, running second, decided at the same moment that he wanted to duck onto pit road, and the two cars collided.

Busch finished 20th.