Joey Logano Wins Aarons 312
While Joey Logano is accustomed to being involved in close, exciting finishes at Talladega Superspeedway, he is not used to actually winning at the track. Until Saturday, that is, when he made a last-second pass of Kyle Busch to win the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
Logano stayed tight on Busch’s bumper throughout the final two laps of a green-white-checkered finish. Then when it became obvious that the trailing combo of Cole Whitt and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was going to be unable to attempt a pass, Logano whipped around Busch on the high side as they came through the tri-oval and nipped Busch at the finish line by 0.034 of a second.
Stenhouse managed a late pass of Whitt to claim third place and grab the Nationwide points lead away from Elliott Sadler, who finished 10th. Whitt was fourth followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in fifth, Kurt Busch sixth, James Buescher seventh, Justin Allgaier eighth and Kenny Wallace ninth. Danica Patrick finished 13th in her first race at Talladega Superspeedway.
The victory was especially satisfying for Logano, given his history at Talladega Superspeedway. He had finished second or third five times in 11 career starts at the track: three in the Nationwide Series, once in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and once in the ARCA Racing Series.
“It’s cool to win superspeedway races,” said Logano, who gave manufacturer Toyota its 200th national series victory. “It’s just so close all the way to the line. You never know what’s going to happen. When you get a win at the last second, those are the most exciting ones.”
As Busch whipped through the fourth turn and headed into the lengthy tri-oval, he was hoping that Whitt and Stenhouse would attempt to make a pass, forcing Logano to stay behind him. When that never materialized, Busch said he knew it was going to be nearly impossible for him to win.
“I was hoping they would get up alongside of us and then we’d have to drag race it and Joey would have to push me to the checkered,” said Busch, who won last year’s Aaron’s 312 with a push from Logano, who finished second in that race. “But they couldn’t quite get up alongside us, and it gave the opportunity for Joey to make a move at the end.
“When you’re in tandem like that, there’s not a lot the front car can do. The rear car has so much momentum ready to go that as soon as you pull out of line you’re able to move forward on that car. If I knew what to do (to prevent it), I would have done it.”
Whitt, a Nationwide Series rookie driving for Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports team, had never been involved in such a close finish at a restrictor-plate track. He admitted afterward that his inexperience prevented him and Stenhouse from attempting a late pass.
“I learned a lot there at the end. I’ve never been in that situation before,” Whitt said. “I probably could have drafted to that other tandem a little more than I did. I pulled out (of line) too soon, and by the time we got back in line it was too late. I probably threw that one away for me and Ricky.”
And Logano was more than happy to pick it up.
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