Logano Scores Sixth Nationwide Series Victory
Logano passed race leader Kevin Harvick in traffic with 35 laps to go and held on through two cautions to win in a final three-lap shootout for the victory, beating out Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon and Elliott Sadler.
The victory marked Logano’s first career Bristol victory and his series-leading sixth Nationwide Series win of the season.
"It was definitely really cool coming here -I think we've led the most laps in this race several times. I always felt a little short or something went wrong and it's cool to finally be in victory lane here,” said Logano. “This is one of the coolest race tracks to win at - I think there's three or four that are extra special to win at and this is one of them.
“Once everyone wore out their tires some, that’s when our car was the fastest and was able to move through the field pretty quick. Had a lot of fun with that, passed a lot of cars and you don’t get a stellar car all the time. It’s cool to get number six and get on the second hand.”
Starting from the second spot, Logano and his crew got working on their pit strategy early, electing to short pit after the third caution on lap 34, putting them in position to be out in front with four fresh tires when the competition caution waved on lap 46.
The next 70 laps saw Stenhouse and Logano trading the lead until the fifth caution on lap 115 brought the leaders to pit road for their final stop of the night, with Harvick taking on just two right-side tires to come off pit road as the race leader ahead of Logano, who again took on four tires.
Logano spent the next 100 laps dogging Harvick for the lead, before finally pinning Harvick behind lapped traffic and pulling off the pass on the inside to take the lead.
Harvick, who led a race-high 98 laps, would drop back deep in the field after running out of gas and came home in 15th, marking the sixth race he has led the most laps and failed to win.
Three more caution flags would slow the action and give the leaders another shot at Logano. The final yellow flag brought by contact between Dillon and Trevor Bayne with five laps to go put Logano in the crosshairs for a final three-lap dash to the finish.
Under green, Logano got away clean, but behind him the battle for second ramped up with Stenhouse getting into the back of Sadler as they came to the white flag, pushing Sadler’s no. 2 Chevrolet out of the groove and allowing Stenhouse to move into second place, but too late to catch Logano who cruised to the checkers.
“I definitely didn’t expect to do that,” said Stenhouse of his contact with Sadler. “(Sadler) definitely had a better race car than we did and I didn’t expect to get that run on him that we did, but luckily he was able to save it.
“I definitely don’t want to crash anybody and ended up second, but I was really hoping the last 20 laps or so were gonna go green. I felt like we were running down the 18 and might have had a shot at a win, but that caution came out and we ended up second.”
With the runner-up finish, Stenhouse notched his 13th top-five finish of the season and cut Sadler’s points lead from 22 to 19 points.
Sadler would recover to finish five and record his 10th top-five finish of the season, but was clearly not content with how the final lap played out.
“It’s not the finish we deserved tonight,” said Sadler. “We really wanted to race that 18 (Logano) that last lap. We should have finished second at worse. Frustrating night to finish fifth.”
Stenhouse would later apologize to Sadler, but may have set the tone for how the championship battle plays out as the season enters the home stretch.
“I’ve always been careful around him last year and this year because we’ve always raced each other with a lot of respect. I’m glad he didn’t wreck us. He did push us out of the way, but it could have been ugly,” said Sadler. “He just opened it up to where we can race each other a lot differently over the last ten races.”
Rookie Cole Whitt would finish sixth, followed by Ryan Blaney and Michael Annett. Danica Patrick overcame a speeding penalty to come home in ninth place ahead of Sam Hornish, Jr.
* Denotes Rookie
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