Logano survives wild night to win
Logano outgunned Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin at the start of the final green-white-checkered shootout and held on his third Nationwide Series win in the five races and the 12th series win of his career.
Brad Keselowski was third, followed by Sam Hornish, Jr. and Austin Dillon.
Logano’s good fortune came at the expense of Elliott Sadler, who saw a late-race gamble to take the lead end in a shower of sparks after getting turned off the bumper of Logano during a restart with six laps to go.
“I don’t want to win races that way. It’s bittersweet,” said Logano. “I feel terrible (about Sadler). We worked so good together in Talladega last week and I was trying to help him again here.
“Your heart drops a little bit, but at the same time, you have to find a way to put it behind you and go out there and do your job and win the race. It was one of those racing deals -- it's tough. I apologize for it, but we were trying to win the race -- both of us were trying to win the race. It is what it is, unfortunately.”
Sadler, who came into Friday night’s race just five points behind Stenhouse, Jr. in the standings, ended up finishing 24th - his first DNF since November of last year at Phoenix – and now trails Stenhouse by 23 points.
“I hate it,” said Sadler. “I’m fighting for my life out here to try and stay a part of this sport and try to do well and win a championship and win races and stuff like that tonight, it’s just heartbreaking.
“I understand what (Logano) was trying to do, but you can’t bump draft everywhere you go, especially at a place like Darlington and everyone’s on used tires. There’s a time and place for everything, I just hate that we were on the losing end. Tore up a really good race car and killed us in the points.”
Hamlin had dominated the event after starting on the outside of pole-winner Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., leading five times for 103 of the 151 laps.
Hamlin spent much of the first half of the race trading the lead with Kurt Busch before finally settling out to six-second lead over the field until lap 128, when Busch cut down a tire and smacked the outside wall to bring out the caution flag and wipe out Hamlin’s lead.
Trailing in the fourth position, Sadler and his crew rolled the dice on their final pit stop and elected to take only two tires, jumping to the lead coming off pit road with 15 laps to go.
Sadler led the next nine laps before Brendan Gaughan hit the wall to bring out the fifth caution flag of the night, setting up a six-lap dash to the finish.
Running third behind Sadler with Hamlin to the outside, Logano tried to push Sadler past Hamlin as they came past the start/finish line but ended up turning Sadler’s Chevrolet into Hamlin and the inside wall, touching off a crash that collected Kasey Kahne and damaged Hamlin’s Toyota as well.
Sadler rolled to pit road but was unable to continue as Hamlin inherited the lead with Logano trailing followed by Keselowski, Hornish and Dillon.
Coming to the green flag for the restart, Logano got a push from Keselowski past Hamlin and cleared his teammate as the field came through turn one, but Keselowski got loose in the turn and settled into third behind Hamlin as Logano’s no. 18 Toyota pulled away.
Hamlin made a final run at Logano coming through the final two turns, but came up two car-lengths short at the line.
“We lost a cylinder I guess under caution because I had it wide-open those last couple laps. I just couldn’t do anything,” said Hamlin. “It’s a shame. We wanted to get a win for these Sport Clip guys, but tough way to end it.
“I’m going to get these guys a win one of these days. We just can’t keep dominating these races and not win them.”
Stenhouse, Jr. finished sixth, followed by Brian Scott, Kurt Busch, James Buescher and Cole Whitt.
Danica Patrick, making her Darlington debut, finished 12th while Travis Pastrana came home 17th in his second career Nationwide Series event.
* Denotes Rookie
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