Logano beats Busch at finish of Nationwide race
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) – Joey Logano nipped Kyle Busch at the finish line Saturday to win the Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway to give Toyota its 200th win in NASCAR.
The race was marred by a late accident that sent Eric McClure to an Alabama hospital by helicopter, but NASCAR officials said he was awake and speaking to medical personnel.
And, after the finish, Danica Patrick intentionally wrecked Sam Hornish Jr. on the cool down lap. It was apparent retaliation for Hornish squeezing Patrick on the last lap; he said he had a flat tire, but she wasn’t buying the excuse from her former IndyCar colleague.
Meanwhile, Logano was celebrating his sneaky victory over Busch, his teammate in the Sprint Cup Series.
“I haven’t seen one yet that’s predictable at Talladega,” Logano said. “I just got him right at the line. I was super pumped.”
The multi-car accident that collected McClure brought out a 19-minute red flag, and Busch restarted as the leader with two laps to go in the race. Logano went off in third, and immediately pulled onto the back of Busch’s bumper.
He stayed in line and pushed Busch around the track as the two teamed to hold off the tandem of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Cole Whitt. Stenhouse and Whitt never pulled alongside of Busch and Logano in an attempt to pull them apart, and it gave Logano the chance to make his move.
“Was hoping (Whitt and Stenhouse) would get up alongside of us and we’d have to drag race it and Joey would have to push me to the checkered,” Busch said. “They couldn’t quite get up alongside and it gave the opportunity for Joey to win.”
Logano pulled out as they exited the final turn, and nipped Busch by .034 seconds at the finish line.
Logano said after he was nervous he hadn’t timed the move correctly.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, I went too soon,’ ” said Logano, who gave Toyota its milestone win. The automaker has 42 wins in the Sprint Cup Series, 67 in Nationwide and 91 in the Trucks Series.
“We were in the right position. You have to position yourself for the end of these things. I thought we were in the right position there for a while. Kyle knew it was coming. I know he knew it was coming.”
Because NASCAR during the offseason banned driver-to-driver radio communication, Stenhouse wasn’t able to make a plan with rookie Whitt for the final restart.
“I knew I was going to push Cole,” Stenhouse said. “If I could have talked to Cole, I could have told him what I thought to do but it is his first situation there.”
The race was stopped after a 10-car accident on the previous restart. It wasn’t clear how it started, but Michael Annett appeared to be turned into Brad Keselowski, and cars began spinning all over the track. McClure’s darted head-first into the inside wall of Turn 3. The car’s roof had to be cut and peeled back for McClure to be removed.
“Everyone is doing what they have to do at these races,” Annett said. “Unfortunately we tore up a bunch of race cars. Everybody is trying to get everything they can on those last two laps. It is just the way this racing is.”
Busch wound up second, and said it validated what he already knew about the last lap of a restrictor-plate race.
“If you’re leading, being pushed, plan on finishing second,” Busch said. “That’s all there is to it.”
Stenhouse, who took over the points lead from Elliott Sadler, finished third and was followed by Whitt.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fifth and was followed by Kurt Busch, James Buescher, Justin Allgaier, Kenny Wallace and Sadler.
Neither Patrick or Hornish was called before NASCAR following their post-race skirmish.
Patrick was apparently upset that Hornish squeezed her into the wall on the last lap, and retaliated after the race by intentionally running into the back of him, which turned his car into the wall.