"He got underneath me, and then I crossed him over off of four," explained Logano after the race. "And then I was able to clear in the middle of three and four, and it was like, 'Okay, I've got him now.' I think my car was good enough to take off."
But with two laps to go the battle became moot as the yellows were back out for a multiple-car crash in the midfield - and one of those cars was Elliott Sadler: he'd been running behind Justin Allgaier, side-by-side with Cole Whitt, when got up too high in turns 3 and 4 resulting in his tipping Whitt and himself into a spin. Both cars heavily damaged their rear ends against the wall, and then Brendan Gaughan arrived on the scene, slammed into the front of Sadler's car and sheared off the front end of the bodywork for good measure. All three cars sustained heavy damage - Whitt's by far the worst - and while Sadler was still moving and able to get back to pit lane, it was very bad news indeed for his championship hopes.
A lengthy red flag ensued for the clean-up, and then the race was in green-white-chequered conditions to decide the race result. It proved to be a perfunctory affair, with Logano blasting away at the front to claim the win and Vickers winning a brief side-by-side battle with Ricky Stenhouse for second place ahead of Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Austin Dillon.
“I guess the best way to describe it is pleased but not satisfied,” said Vickers, the 2003 Nationwide Series champion of his first run back in the series since being confirmed at JGR for a full-time return in 2013. "I just wanted more."
But further back, Sadler's crew had been unable to get the #2 car into a fit state to claim anything better than 22nd place - a body blow in the championship with both of his closest rivals finishing in the top six.
"I did it to myself," said Sadler, all too aware that it was here one year ago that a crash ended his 2011 title hopes in similar fashion. "I put my team in a hole, qualifying like I did. We tried to work on this car as much as we could, and I just got a little loose there, getting under the #88 ... I just wanted to say, 'My fault.' I should have done a better job for these guys."
Having come into this weekend's race tied on points in the lead of the championship battle, Sadler is now 20pts behind Stenhouse with just one race remaining with Dillon a further five points back. That margin should mean that Stenhouse will win his second consecutive series title next weekend at Homestead-Miami before his move to full-time Cup competition with Roush Fenway in 2013. But as Stenhouse pointed out, a major upset in the season finale could still change everything.
"We've got to keep doing what we're doing," he insisted. "We've given up 20 points in one race, so it's not even close to over," he pointed out. "It's going to be tough, because obviously I'm going to have to not push the limits as much as I like. I like going for race wins, too, so it's going to be a fine balance there."
Full race results, plus qualifying and practice
speeds and full Nationwide Series championship standings