Logano wins at Darlington after late-race chaos

NASCAR, NAtionwide, Joey Logano

By NASCAR Wire Service
May 12, 2012 10:56 AM, EDT

DARLINGTON, S.C. — For Joey Logano, Friday
night’s victory in the VFW Sport Clips 200 Nationwide Series event at
Darlington Raceway was tinged with regret.

Yes, Logano drove away from Joe Gibbs Racing
teammate Denny Hamlin after a green-white-checkered restart to win his
second consecutive race in the series and third of the season.

Joey Logano (Autostock)

VFW Sport Clips 200

Pos. Driver Make
1. Joey Logano Toyota
2. Denny Hamlin Toyota
3. Brad Keselowski Dodge
4. Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge
5. Austin Dillon Chevrolet

Results | Lap-by-Lap | Videos


Pos. +/- Driver Behind
1. R. Stenhouse Jr. Leader
2. E. Sadler -23
3. A. Dillon -35
4. S. Hornish Jr. -59
5. Cole Whitt -81

Standings | Schedule/Results

But Logano got the opportunity for his 12th
career victory only after a well-intentioned bump went awry and wrecked
championship contender Elliott Sadler on a restart with five laps left
in regulation distance.

“Obviously, this win was a little bittersweet —
you don’t want to win ’em that way,” said Logano, who called Sadler
after the race to apologize and left a voice mail. “Your heart drops.
You know he’s running for points.

“Your heart drops a little bit, but at the same
time, you’ve got to put it behind you, go out there and do your job and
win the race.”

Hamlin, who complained of an engine problem
during the final two laps, finished .256 seconds behind Logano in the
runner-up position. Brad Keselowski ran third, followed by Sam Hornish
Jr. and rookie Austin Dillon, as the race went four laps past its
scheduled distance of 147 laps.

Danica Patrick finished 12th and Travis Pastrana 17th, both on the lead lap in their Darlington debuts.

Logano was trying to push Sadler and keep him in
the lead on a restart on Lap 143, but Sadler’s No. 2 moved up the track
to the right and turned across the nose of Hamlin’s Camry, which was
running in the outside lane.

After slamming into the wall near the entry to
Turn 1, Sadler’s car was too hobbled to continue, leaving him in 24th
place at the finish and dropping him to 23 points behind series leader
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who started on the pole and finished sixth.

“I was trying to help him,” Logano said of the
contact with Sadler’s car. “Two restarts before that I successfully
helped him and got him out front. The next restart was the same
situation — he was first; I was third — and I started to push him.

“He did take two tires, so I think he spun his
tires some, and I was trying to shove him ahead. . . . He may have been
trying to go up in front of Denny, or he was spinning the tires, and I
had him crossed up, but once he turned sideways, I couldn’t get off

Sadler’s crash caused the sixth caution of the
race and forced overtime, with the field taking the green flag on Lap
150. Logano powered past his teammate into the lead.

“We lost a cylinder, and that’s why we didn’t
take off,” said Hamlin, who led 103 of the 151 laps. “We just can’t keep
dominating these races and not win ’em.”

Hamlin led Kurt Busch by more than five seconds
when the right-front tire on Busch’s No. 54 Toyota blew on Lap 126,
shooting the nose of the car into the outside wall. The resulting
caution brought the top cars to pit road, with Sadler grabbing the lead
with a two-tire stop under the yellow.

Before the caution, the fourth of the race,
Hamlin had dominated. Busch took the lead briefly with a bold three-wide
move on a Lap 51 restart, but Hamlin regained the top spot on Lap 53
and began to pull away.

His advantage over Busch grew to nearly seven seconds
through a cycle of green-flag stops, before Busch’s tire blew to bring
out the yellow flag. Ultimately, Busch recovered to finish eighth,
despite the damage his car suffered when he hit the wall.

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