NASCAR: Logano holds off Busch to win Nationwide race
GLADEVILLE, Tenn. ó Teen star Joey Logano raced to his second career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory, holding off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in the Pepsi 300 on Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway.
The 18-year-old Logano and Busch ran in the top two and traded the lead for most of the race, with Logano leading the final 10 laps and finishing 0.487 seconds in front.
Brad Keselowski, the Nashville winner last June, was third, followed by Kelly Bires was fourth and series leader Carl Edwards, Jason Leffler and David Ragan.
With the exception of two laps under caution, either Logano or Busch led over the final 89 laps on the 1.333-mile track. Some tense moments ensued immediately after Logano claimed the lead for the last time when crash sent Joe Nemechek’s car tumbling near the finish line and brought out the red flag.
“I wasn’t too nervous. I was just driving as hard as I could,” Logano said. “I knew I had to have a good restart but Kyle had one, too and he was bearing down on me in one and two, but he couldn’t get out to a lead.”
A weekend of wild weather that featured thunderstorms and torrential rain Friday, was followed by cloudy conditions that gave way to bright sunshine during the race. And 10 cautions for 40 laps, in effect shortened the race.
“We were really good on short runs and that was a factor at the end to get that clean air back on the nose,” Logano said. “That worked against Kyle but it’s really cool to have a 1-2 finish for Joe Gibbs Racing and it’s a big deal for the guys at the shop.”
Busch was noticeably angry after the race. He has run well at Nashville, but has won only once ó in 2003 in an ARCA race.
“He had a better short run car and we were better on the long run,” Busch said. “It’s just a shame we weren’t able to get out there and win this thing. It’s kind of frustrating.”
Logano led nine times for a race-high 95 laps. Busch led six times for 77.
Edwards led three times for 45 laps and was in contention until loose lug nuts forced him to pit under green just past the halfway mark.
Scott Wimmer started 29th and never challenged for the lead en route to an 11th-place finish. He also touched off a caution on lap 124 when he exited his pit stall with the catch can attached before dropping it in turn three.
A crowd that appeared to be half of the announced 25,000 turned out for the race. Many took advantage of the track’s new All Access promotion that includes pre-race access to the garage, front stretch and driver’s meeting.
Busch was not particularly pleased with how the promotion played out.
“There were a lot of people with a lot more access than typical,” Busch said. “Some fans need to respect the drivers a little more because they’re bringing suitcases of diecasts for us to sign. Yeah, it’s our job to sign for the fans and to treat them nice, but when they have three suitcases, that’s a little ridiculous.”
“We spent a lot more hours working on the car than we did sleeping,” said Dave Rogers, Logano’s crew chief. “We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how much to tighten up the front side and how free to we leave the back side.We got the win, but in hindsight, we probably got it a little too good on the front and not good enough on the back so the cautions did play in to our favor.”
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