17 June 2012
Nationwide: Logano continues his winning ways
Joey Logano got his fifth Nationwide victory of the season so far with a strong win over James Buescher at Michigan International Speedway.
Joey Logano continued to be the in-form man, following up wins in the last Cup and Nationwide Series races (at Pocono and Dover respectively) with another race win, this time at the blisteringly fast newly repaved two-mile Michigan International Speedway.
"I've had a lot of confidence in myself lately, in my abilities, knowing what I can do with the race car," said a grinning Logano in victory lane. "We've been in position to win races, and we've capitalized every time we've been in that position," he said, adding: "There hasn't been an opportunity we've let slip up yet."
The Alliance Truck Parts 250 Nationwide Series race on Saturday afternoon had an early caution on the first lap, when Danica Patrick and Brad Sweet both went for unrelated slow spins after losing the back ends of their car through turns 3 and 4. Fortunately no one collected them, although Brad Keselowski was rear-ended by Kurt Busch as he braked to avoid Patrick; both the #22 and #54 would require some running repairs under ensuing cautions that cost them some initial time and positions.
At the restart, Logano went low to make it three-wide for the lead with polesitter Austin Dillon and fellow front-row man Cole Whitt: Whitt won the battle and led the next nine laps before getting on a nasty wobble that allowed both Dillon and Logano to blast past him. Logano would soon close up on Dillon and take the lead off him on lap 21, just in time for the previously scheduled competition caution to allow the teams to come in and check tyre wear on the newly resurfaced Michigan track that was giving the teams' Sprint Cup counterparts such problems with blistering.
Sam Hornish Jr. jumped to the front by opting for a two-tyre-only change under the caution, and he was blasted out into a strong lead by a Talladega-style push from Paul Menard, who then went side-by-side for a time with Logano for second that Logano eventually won. Dillon meanwhile had dropped back to ninth and was suffering a vibration from a suspected loose wheel that drove him into the pits for a change of tyres.
A third caution came on lap 49 when Kenny Wallace's engine blew and laid down fluid on the track, which at least helped Dillon get the free pass back onto the lead lap. Two-tyre strategies saw Menard assume the lead ahead of James Buescher, Elliott Sadler, Cole Whitt and Brad Keselowski, while Brian Scott and Sam Hornish Jr. in sixth and seventh were the first of the four-tyre cars. Logano meanwhile had dropped back to ninth.
At the restart, Keselowski got unstable on the low line and had to back off in turn 4, catching out Brad Sweet who inadvertently rear-ended the #22 and then went for his second spin of the day; his luck continued to hold, however, and once again everyone else missed him.
At the next restart on lap 58, Paul Menard had to ward off James Buescher for the lead, but was soon stretching away from the field accompanied by his team mate Elliott Sadler, the two of them pulling out more than three seconds over Kurt Busch and Joey Logano. That lasted through to the next round of pit stops, this time under green flag conditions, but it was not a happy stop for Menard: his car exhaust backfired into the face of his right rear wheel changer, costing him time and dropping him behind Sadler, Logano and Busch on the track.
Logano had just caught and passed Sadler for the lead when the fifth caution came out: Austin Dillon had closed right up on the back of Danica Patrick's car, and the air cushion had been the tipping point sending Patrick into a spin in turn 2 that she was lucky to hold off the inside wall. Patrick needed a change of tyres, and Sam Hornish Jr and an increasingly battered Brad Keselowski were also on pit road under the caution.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
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