Logano wins Nationwide race

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 1, 2011

By Jenna Fryer
Associated Press
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ó Joey Logano needed a boost to turn around his slumping season. It started last weekend on the road course at Sonoma and continued on the high banks of Daytona.
Logano picked up his first win of the season Friday night with a last-lap push from teammate Kyle Busch to win the Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway. It comes on the heels of him winning the pole at Sonoma then finishing a career-high sixth on the road course.
ěI really needed it. Iíve been digging as hard as I possibly can. Iíve been confused,î Logano said. ěI donít know what to do different, but the big thing is just having some momentum on your side and youíll be amazed at what it can do. This is definitely a huge win for me for a lot of reasons. Iím pretty pumped up.î
He was the unlikely winner, though, as Danica Patrick flirted several times with the victory. She had help at various times from Tony Stewart, and was paired in the closing laps with JR Motorsports teammate Aric Almirola.
Stewart at that point had hooked up with Elliott Sadler and was committed to pushing his Kevin Harvick Inc. teammate to the win.
The Sadler-Stewart pairing took the lead from the Patrick-Almirola tandem, and Patrick had to weave her way back to mount another pass. Then Logano-Busch charged to the front on the final lap, leaving all the other contenders stuck in a tight pack of traffic.
As Logano closed in on the finish line, Mike Wallace squeezed Patrick against the wall, she bounced back into the pack and an eight-car accident marred the finish. Sadler and Stewart were also in the wreck, and Almirola had to climb from a car engulfed in flames.
ěIt just looks like a bit of a cluster,î Patrick said. ěI kept my foot in it, which might not be the best thing here, but I was going for broke. I learned a lot, thatís for sure.î
It was Loganoís first win at Daytona, and ninth of his Nationwide career.
ěThey told me a stat here earlier this week and it said the last eight superspeedway races I finished second four times out of the eight,î Logano said. ěItís nice to be on the other side of it and be in Victory Lane here. This will really help me a lot.î
Jason Leffler finished second and Reed Sorenson was third to win a $100,000 bonus as the highest finishing eligible driver in sponsor Nationwideís first Dash 4 Cash race. Nationwide is paying out a guaranteed $400,000 over four races to one of four eligible series regulars as a way to promote NASCARís second tier series.
Winning the bonus capped a strong week for series points leader Sorenson, who earned his first victory of the season last Saturday at Road America.
Busch was fourth, Justin Allgaier fifth and Michael Annett was sixth. Kenny Wallace was seventh, while Sadler, Almirola and Patrick rounded out the top 10.
KHI swept the top four spots in qualifying, but all four wrecked in the end. Clint Bowyer was wrecked late in the race, and Harvick, Sadler and Stewart were all in the last-lap accident.
ěWell that was expensive … ě team owner Delana Harvick posted on Twitter immediately after the race.