NNS: Logano extends Gibbs streak at Darlington, wins second straight

 

Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR

Elliott Sadler had done the impossible, he had held off a hard charging Denny Hamlin on two old tires and it looked like he was going to drive to his third victory of the year, and then the improbable happened.

As the cars were coming to speed and heading towards turn one, Sadler was getting a bump draft from behind from Joey Logano, then Sadler went from leading the race to leaving the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 with a wrecked car.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” Sadler said to ESPN reporters after the wreck. “Just a shame, you just don’t bump draft everywhere, especially at Darlington with old tires.”

What was heartbreaking for Sadler turned into a golden opportunity for Logano. With Sadler out of the way and slight damage to Hamlin’s car, a car that had dominated most of the race, it came down to a restart and a green-white-checkered finish for the race lead.

As the race restarted, Logano and Hamlin were in a drag race for the lead going into turn one, but Hamlin would drop a cylinder and Logano would drive off to record his third win of the season, the second in a row for him and the third straight win at Darlington for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“I need to apologize to Elliott,” Logano said twice after the win, once to ESPN2 reporters in victory lane and again to media members after the race. “This win’s a little bittersweet.”

After getting into the back of Sadler, which caused him to spin into the outside wall on the restart with five to go, Logano took over second place. Despite leading just four laps tonight, Logano was able to capture his 12th career victory in the Nationwide series.

Logano also won last week’s Nationwide series race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“I felt like we had a solid second place car,” Logano said after the race. “We had a good car after about 15 laps and on the restart.”

For most of the night, the car to beat was clearly Logano’s teammate, Hamlin. It took 19 laps for Hamlin to get past pole sitter, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to get the lead, but after that the night belonged to Hamlin.

That is until a late race caution threw a wrench in everything. Kurt Busch blew a tire and smacked the wall to bring out the caution with nine laps remaining. From then on it was strategy that would win the race, and for Logano that played right into how his car had been set-up.

“Restarts were our strength,” said Adam Stevens crew chief for Joey Logano. “We used that to our advantage.”

After the spin out of Sadler, Logano used another restart to gain the lead and win. Logano, though, ┬ádidn’t want to win the way he did.

“Your heart drops, you know [Sadler] is running for points and he is in a tight points battle with the six,” Logano said. “No point in my mind did I think I’m going to wreck [Sadler] and win this race.”

Hamlin finished second, Brad Keselowski finished third, Sam Hornish Jr finished fourth and Austin Dillon finished in fifth.

After the wreck, Sadler finished 24th and now trails the points by 23 to points leader, Stenhouse Jr.

There were several drivers making their first ever start at Darlington Friday night, and among the notables, Danica Patrick finished in 12th and Travis Pastrana finished 17th.

After running very well in his debut race at Richmond two weeks ago, Ryan Blaney, had a disappointing night when he brought the first caution by smashing the wall on the first lap, he would finish the race in 43rd.

Next week the series will be at Iowa Speedway.

Race Results:

  1. Joey Logano
  2. Denny Hamlin
  3. Brad Keselowski
  4. Sam Hornish Jr.
  5. Austin Dillon
  6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  7. Brian Scott
  8. Kurt Busch
  9. James Buescher
  10. Cole Whitt
  11. Joe Nemechek
  12. Danica Patrick
  13. Justin Allgaier
  14. Michael Annett
  15. Mike Bliss
  16. Timmy Hill
  17. Travis Pastrana
  18. Kasey Kahne
  19. Jeff Green
  20. Danny Efland
  21. Jason Bowles
  22. Morgan Shepherd
  23. Jamie Dick
  24. Elliott Sadler
  25. Josh Richards
  26. Brendan Gaughan
  27. Derrike Cope
  28. Matt Frahm
  29. Erik Darnell
  30. Mike Wallace
  31. Tayler Malsam
  32. T.J. Bell
  33. Jeremy Clements
  34. Blake Koch
  35. Kevin Lepage
  36. Tony Raines
  37. Mike Harmon
  38. Scott Riggs
  39. Josh Wise
  40. Casey Roderick
  41. Chase Miller
  42. Scott Speed
  43. Ryan Blaney

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