Joey Logano beat his Joe Gibbs Racing team mate Denny Hamlin to the line in the VFW Sport Clips 200 Nationwide Series race at Darlington Raceway on Friday night in a second back-to-back green-white-chequered dash for victory in a week.
At Talladega, the win had been over Kyle Busch; this week it was Denny Hamlin that Logano had to beat to the line. Hamlin had dominated the race throughout the evening, leading 103 of the 151 laps completed, but then suffered an engine problem at the critical moment at the end.
"We lost a cylinder, and that's why we didn't take off," said Hamlin. He was clearly disappointed with coming second: "We just can't keep dominating these races and not win them."
Nor was Logano sounding any more jubilant, since it had been a mistake on his part had wrecked Nationwide Series contender Elliott Sadler to cause the final GWC finish in the first place.
"You don't want to win 'em that way," said a regretful Logano, who called to apologise to Sadler immediately after the race. "You know he's running for points," he said. "Your heart drops a little bit, but at the same time, you've got to put it behind you, go out there and do your job and win the race."
Logano had been trying to give Sadler a push to keep him in the lead at a restart on lap 143 following a caution for Brendan Gaughan making contact with the wall in turn 3 half a dozen laps previously. The contact turned Sadler across the front of Hamlin's car running on the outside and slammed the #2 into the wall going into turn 1, damaging the car too badly to continue.
"I was trying to help him," insisted Logano. "Two restarts before that I successfully helped him and got him out front, the next restart was the same situation ... He may have been trying to go up in front of Denny, or he was spinning the tyres and I had him crossed up, but once he turned sideways I couldn't get off him."
Sadler's crash was the last of six cautions in the race, which had started with a wreck into the wall at turn 2 for Ryan Blaney just a lap into proceedings, which also sucked in Jeremy Clements, Matt Frohm and Chase Miller to the scene of the accident.
Mike Wallace was the next casualty when he slapped the wall between turns 3 and 4 on lap 35, and TJ Bell was helped into the wall by contact with Josh Richards at the subsequent restart on lap 46, after which the race ran green all the way through to lap 125. That saw Joey Logano take second place from Kurt Busch when the right-front tyre on the #54 Kyle Busch Motorsports car blew and sent Kurt into the wall. Despite the damage he'd sustained, Busch was able to recover to eighth place at the flag with the help of the final two cautions for Gaughan and Sadler's wrecks.
Darlington rookies Danica Patrick and Travis Pastrana finished on the lead lap in 12th and 17th places respectively, no mean feat at the difficult egg-shaped oval nicknamed "The Lady in Black" with a talent for drawing the unwary driver into the wall at the slightest opportunity.
The highest-placed series rookie was Austin Dillon, who finished in fifth position. That made him the second best finisher of the night among the drivers registered for Nationwide Series points right behind Sam Hornish Jr., and just ahead of reigning champion and current points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who had started the race from pole position and led the first 18 laps, but who never got back in front again after being displaced by Hamlin.Full race results, qualifying and practice
times and Nationwide Series points standings