NASCAR: Hamlin wins Nationwide race
By Dan Gelston
DOVER, Del. ó Joey Logano wanted a top-five. The 18-year-old rookie had to settle for sixth.
“It ain’t much on my book,” he said.
Don’t worry, kid. There’s plenty of time to drive your way into Victory Lane.
The next NASCAR star has arrived and Logano delivered in his national-level debut with the kind of finish that showed why he was one of the most hyped prospects in years.
But it was another Joe Gibbs Racing driver that claimed the win.
Hamlin made it a whopping nine victories for JGR in the Nationwide Series this season, leading all but 69 laps to crush the field and win Saturday night in the 200-mile race at Dover International Speedway.
“Fairly uneventful,” Hamlin said.
About the only suspense for Hamlin came at the end, when he peeked at the scoreboard to see if Logano would score a top-seven finish. Hamlin made a pair of side bets with Kyle Busch and Michael Waltrip that Logano could finish that high in his Nationwide debut. He won $200 off his fellow drivers to go along with the trophy.
“By the finish, it looked like he did great,” Hamlin said.
Logano shook off a pit stop fender bender early that dropped him to 28th to run near the front with veterans such as Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and JGR teammate Hamlin. Logano had few nerves and described his demeanor as his “normal, goofy self,” during an extended wait for the green flag because of a three-hour rain delay.
“I never really worried about it too much,” he said.
Logano drove the No. 20 Toyota that entered leading the Nationwide Series in owner points and has won seven races in 14 starts this season with Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Tony Stewart behind the wheel.
“He proved he’s worth the hype that’s been given him,” Hamlin said. “It’s just going to be a matter of time before that 20 team is back in Victory Lane with the fourth driver.”
Edwards, who started on the pole, was second. David Stremme was third and David Reutimann fourth. Clint Bowyer kept his points lead and was ninth.
Logano was eligible to drive once he turned 18 last week, and JGR immediately put him to work. He’s scheduled to run about 18 Nationwide races this year and might be positioned to make the move to the Sprint Cup Series if JGR expands to a four-car team as early as next season.
Logano expected better than sixth in his Nationwide debut.
“I’m not going to be happy unless I win,” he said.
The Heluva Good! 200 looked like a replay of last September’s race on the 1-mile concrete track when Hamlin dominated in that win. He led in the No. 18 Toyota for 131 laps, including the last 95 on the Monster Mile.
He earned his second Nationwide win this season.
“It definitely means a lot to come here in different cars,” Hamlin said.
Veteran Mark Martin raved about Logano years ago and stated “he can be one of the greatest that ever raced in NASCAR.”
Logano has been on the fast track ever since, winning races at every level and beating some of NASCAR’s top developmental drivers along the way. His nickname around the garage is “Sliced Bread,” as in, “the greatest thing since …” Logano said he tries to ignore the hype and just concentrate on winning races.
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