Even though Joey Logano’s career is still very much a young one, he’s had quite a few cracks at Dover International Speedway. He made his much-anticipated NASCAR debut at the track in 2008, and has run 12 races at the Monster Mile in three different series, but he’d never managed to lead the last lap in any of those races – until Saturday.
Logano overtook local favorite and pole-sitter Ryan Truex with six laps remaining and drove to his first Dover win, taking the checkered flag in the “5-Hour Energy 200” NASCAR Nationwide Series race. It was a sweep of the top-three positions for Joe Gibbs Racing, with Brian Scott coming in third behind Logano and Truex.
“I’ve come close every time,” Logano said. “Last year we were passing for the lead and we wrecked. I can think of at least four races where I was up front and had a shot to win, and something went wrong. I think this is one of the coolest race tracks, if not the coolest track, that we go to, so it’s nice to finally get that Monster trophy.”
Logano clearly had the best car, leading all but three laps when he made contact with the lapped car of Tim Bainey Jr. on the backstretch and was sent into the wall on lap 150. Logano pitted during the ensuing caution, but several of his competitors did not and he came back out to the green flag in seventh place, while Truex took the lead.
From there, it became a situation where things went right for Logano and wrong for Truex. Logano started to drive his way up through the field while Truex began to have some handling problems. With 15 laps to go, Logano passed Scott and set his sights on Truex. Then on lap 194, Truex ran into two lapped cars at exactly the wrong time. He had no choice but to back off, which allowed Logano to take the lead.
“We came in, took four [tires] and went back to seventh, and were just able to move our way up there slowly but surely. I was able to catch [Truex] in a hurry, and he was pretty loose so all I had to do was take the air off him a bit and that was it.”
Truex had been quite the story over the course of the week, getting behind the wheel less than two weeks after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. But he said that didn’t bother him one bit once he got in the car on Saturday.
“It’s disappointing,” Truex said. “Usually I’d be ecstatic with a second-place run. I just caught lapped traffic at the wrong time there. I don’t think he would have caught me in five laps, but I just caught traffic at the wrong time and for some reason those guys were racing each other 20 laps down in front of me. That was the end of it.”
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. had a very long day. He lost control of his car and wrecked down the backstretch on lap 26, ending up in the garage with a reported 20 or so people, including himself, working on the mess. He came back out on lap 94 and made a go of it, but was black-flagged with a little more than 10 laps to go.
The rough day cost Stenhouse the points lead, which was assumed by Elliott Sadler, who finished seventh. Despite that, Sadler was not very happy with his day.
“Our run was not what we were looking for,” Sadler said. “We struggled a little bit all day long and to finish seventh is kind of disappointing after what we did yesterday in practice. We’ve got a little homework to do before we come back in the fall.”
Sadler said that even though Stenhouse has had two rough weeks, that sort of luck is not going to keep up.
“We know [Stenhouse] is really going to run good week in and week out. We left a few points on the table today. We need to get some more top fives, lead some more laps, things like that. There’s still a lot of racing left to go.”
The race had a tough time staying under the green flag early, with cautions coming out for an incident involving Tim Andrews just four laps in followed by Stenhouse’s wreck on lap 28, and then a competition caution scheduled by NASCAR at lap 40. But the race opened up after that and ran under green for 80 laps until a wreck on the frontstretch that collected three cars.
Five laps later, Danica Patrick was part of a three-car wreck touched off when Sam Hornish Jr. clipped Patrick in the left rear coming out of Turn 4. The day knocked Patrick out of the top 10 in points, from ninth to 11th, as she was passed by both Joe Nemechek and Tayler Malsam.
Logano’s dominance meant only five lead changes among three drivers – Justin Allgaier led three laps at one point. The race was slowed by a total of six cautions for 27 laps and ran at an average speed of 110.497 mph.
For complete results, click here.