With a slingshot move past Sprint Cup teammate Kyle Busch five laps into overtime, Joey Logano won Saturday afternoon’s Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
In a race that saw Eric McClure injured and Danica Patrick using her Chevrolet for payback, Logano beat Busch to the finish line by .034 seconds to win his second NNS race of the season and the 11th of his career.
Defending series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran third and took over the points lead from Elliott Sadler. Cole Whitt came home fourth, followed by his JR Motorsports teammate and boss Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“Kyle and I have worked together in the past, obviously, being teammates on the Cup side,” Logano said. “We’ve got that chemistry there that we know what we’ve got to do . . .
“I know he’s thinking the same thing as me. He knows I’m going to make to make something happen here, and I got him there at the line. It’s super exciting to win ’em that way, because you don’t know you’ve got it until you’re at the line.”
Busch knew that, as the leader off Turn 4 being pushed by Logano, his chances of winning the race were minimal.
“When you’re in tandem like that, there’s not much that the front car can do,” Busch said. “I probably could have blocked Joey up the track a little bit more and then turned down to the bottom to try to get him away from me.
“The rear car has so much momentum ready to go. As soon as you pull out of line, it seems like you’re able to move forward on (the leading) car.”
Whitt was pushing Stenhouse after a restart on Lap 121, but that tandem couldn’t pull up beside Logano and Busch as they raced for the finish line. As a consequence, Logano had the time and the room to make the winning move.
“I was staring in the mirror, because I didn’t want to have that other group (Stenhouse and Whitt) beat us to the line,” Logano said. “That was going to be the real kicker. I wanted to make sure I had enough room behind me to do this.
“He (Stenhouse) was about three car-lengths back, maybe four. You know how much you’re going to slow down when you make the move, so you’ve got to do it late enough. I did it and I was like, ‘Oh, my God — too early!’
“And then I looked up in the mirror and (said), ”Oh, maybe I’ll be all right,’ and then we won the race.
Patrick finished 13th, but after the checkered flag, she exacted revenge on Sam Hornish Jr. for crowding her into the wall as they approached the finish line, knocking Hornish into the outside wall in Turn 1.
Hornish said he was unable to turn his No. 12 Dodge because of a flat tire.
“The 2 (Sadler) was pushing me, which I appreciate, but at that time I didn’t need it,” Hornish said. “I was trying to get out from in front of him, but the car wouldn’t turn anymore.
“Then, after the race was over, we got rear-ended by the 7 car (Patrick). I don’t know what she had in her head, but she decided to right-rear us, wreck the car after the race was over.”
Patrick didn’t elaborate about punting Hornish in Turn 1, but after the race she talked about the incident that was the catalyst for the retaliation.
“I don’t know what happened,” Patrick said. “Sam came up to me after the race and apologized, so I’m not sure what was wrong with his car, but he came across the track at the front of the start/finish line.”
After the incident, there’s little doubt that there’s a difference of opinion between Patrick and Hornish about what constitutes an apology.
The race was red-flagged for a nine-car wreck that interrupted the first attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish on Lap 117. McClure got the worst of the collision, taking a jarring hit against the SAFER barrier on the inside of the backstretch approaching Turn 3.
McClure was awake and talking to safety workers after the crash but was airlifted to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital for further evaluation and treatment of unspecified injuries.
After a stoppage of 19 minutes, the race resumed with the second attempt at a green-white-checker finish.
The wild wreck on Lap 117 was emblematic of an action-filled race.
Contact from Kurt Busch’s No. 1 Chevrolet sent Brian Scott’s No. 11 Toyota spinning on Lap 29, triggering a wreck that also involved Josh Richards, Morgan Shepherd and Jason Bowles
Busch was charging from the back of the field after serving a penalty for dragging a fuel can from his pit stall under caution for Johanna Long’s blown engine on Lap 22
Under yellow for the Lap 29 wreck, Austin Dillon ran into the back of John Wes Townley’s No. 24 Toyota, which was blocking Dillon’s egress from the pit box
Dillon’s car, however, sustained only cosmetic damage, and the reigning Camping World Truck Series champion soon worked his way back to the front of the field. But Dillon was a victim of the Lap 117 melee that started when Michael Annett tried to make a run up the middle and collided with Kevin Harvick’s Chevy. Dillon finished 17th and is third in the standings, 30 points behind Stenhouse.
Earnhardt had led 19 laps before a multicar wreck on the frontstretch slowed the action for the third time, moments after the field had completed Lap 62. Brad Sweet spun off the front bumper of Mike Wallace’s Chevrolet and slammed nose-first into the outside wall.
Josh Richards’ spin on Lap 81 caused the fourth caution, providing the opportunity for fuel stops inside the window to the finish.
- 1. (4) Joey Logano, Toyota, 122, $42,645.
- 2. (12) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 122, $40,100.
- 3. (2) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 122, $39,193.
- 4. (11) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 122, $34,318.
- 5. (33) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 122, $23,100.
- 6. (31) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 122, $20,525.
- 7. (7) James Buescher, Chevrolet, 122, $27,793.
- 8. (13) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 122, $25,143.
- 9. (20) Kenny Wallace, Toyota, 122, $24,918.
- 10. (1) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 122, $25,568.
- 11. (18) Ryan Truex, Toyota, 122, $24,268.
- 12. (8) Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 122, $24,143.
- 13. (17) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 122, $23,968.
- 14. (27) Erik Darnell, Chevrolet, 122, $23,818.
- 15. (26) John Wes Townley, Toyota, 122, $24,868.
- 16. (23) Danny Efland, Chevrolet, 122, $23,568.
- 17. (5) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 122, $23,443.
- 18. (15) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 122, $23,293.
- 19. (16) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, 122, $23,168.
- 20. (9) Brad Keselowski, Dodge, 121, $17,075.
- 21. (28) Timmy Hill, Ford, 117, $23,043.
- 22. (3) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, Accident, 116, $16,250.
- 23. (10) Michael Annett, Ford, Accident, 116, $22,568.
- 24. (14) Tayler Malsam, Toyota, Accident, 116, $22,418.
- 25. (43) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Ford, Accident, 116, $16,075.
- 26. (34) Robert Richardson Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 116, $15,850.
- 27. (29) Eric McClure, Toyota, Accident, 116, $21,993.
- 28. (19) Mike Wallace, Chevrolet, Accident, 113, $21,868.
- 29. (21) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 113, $21,718.
- 30. (36) Josh Richards, Ford, Fuel Pump, 85, $15,325.
- 31. (35) TJ Bell, Chevrolet, 82, $14,975.
- 32. (30) Tim Andrews, Ford, Overheating, 64, $14,900.
- 33. (6) Brad Sweet, Chevrolet, Accident, 62, $21,333.
- 34. (25) Jason Bowles, Toyota, Accident, 32, $21,298.
- 35. (38) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Accident, 29, $14,790.
- 36. (22) Brian Scott, Toyota, Accident, 29, $21,198.
- 37. (24) Johanna Long, Chevrolet, Overheating, 18, $21,163.
- 38. (42) Mike Harmon, Chevrolet, Vibration, 12, $14,661.
- 39. (32) Jeff Green, Toyota, Vibration, 9, $14,525.
- 40. (40) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, Electrical, 9, $14,425.
- 41. (39) Chase Miller, Chevrolet, Vibration, 8, $14,380.
- 42. (41) Scott Speed, Chevrolet, Ignition, 2, $14,345.
- 43. (37) Kevin Lepage, Chevrolet, Clutch, 1, $14,284.