Article Republished Courtesy of NASCAR Wire Service.
TALLADEGA, Ala. — With a slingshot move past Sprint Cup teammate Kyle Busch five laps into overtime, Joey Logano won the Aaron’s 312 on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.
In a race that saw Eric McClure injured and Danica Patrick using her Chevrolet for payback, Logano beat Busch to the finish line by 0.034 second to win his second Nationwide Series race of the season and 11th of his career.
Defending series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran third and took the points lead from Elliott Sadler. Cole Whitt was fourth, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., his JR Motorsports teammate and boss.
“Kyle and I have worked together in the past, obviously, being teammates on the Cup side,” Logano said. “We’ve got that chemistry there that we know what we’ve got to do …
“I know he’s thinking the same thing as me. He knows I’m going to make something happen here, and I got him there at the line. It’s super exciting to win ‘em that way because you don’t know you’ve got it until you’re at the line.”
As the leader off Turn 4 with Logano pushing him, Busch knew his chances of winning were minimal.
“When you’re in tandem like that, there’s not much that the front car can do,” Busch said. “I probably could have blocked Joey up the track a little bit more and then turned down to the bottom to try to get him away from me.
“The rear car has so much momentum ready to go. As soon as you pull out of line, it seems like you’re able to move forward on [the leading] car.”
Whitt was pushing Stenhouse after a restart on Lap 121, but that tandem couldn’t pull beside Logano and Busch as they raced for the finish line. As a consequence, Logano had the time and room to make the winning move.
“I was staring in the mirror because I didn’t want to have that other group [Stenhouse and Whitt] beat us to the line,” Logano said. “That was going to be the real kicker. I wanted to make sure I had enough room behind me to do this.
“[Stenhouse] was about three car-lengths back, maybe four. You know how much you’re going to slow down when you make the move, so you’ve got to do it late enough. I did it and I was like, ‘Oh, my God — too early!’ And then I looked up in the mirror and [said], ‘Oh, maybe I’ll be all right.’ And then we won the race.”
Patrick finished 13th. After the checkered flag, she exacted revenge on Sam Hornish Jr. for crowding her into the wall as they approached the finish line, knocking Hornish into the outside wall in Turn 1.
Hornish said he was unable to turn his No. 12 Dodge because of a flat tire.
“The 2 [Sadler] was pushing me, which I appreciate, but at that time I didn’t need it,” Hornish said. “I was trying to get out from in front of him, but the car wouldn’t turn anymore.
“Then, after the race was over, we got rear-ended by the 7 car [Patrick]. I don’t know what she had in her head, but she decided to right-rear us, wreck the car after the race was over.”
Patrick didn’t elaborate about hitting Hornish, but after the race she talked about the incident that was the catalyst for the retaliation.
“I don’t know what happened,” Patrick said. “Sam came up to me after the race and apologized, so I’m not sure what was wrong with his car, but he came across the track at the front of the start/finish line.”
The race was red-flagged for a nine-car wreck that interrupted the first attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish on Lap 117. McClure got the worst of the collision, taking a jarring hit against the SAFER barrier on the inside of the backstretch approaching Turn 3.
McClure was awake and talking to safety workers after the crash but was airlifted to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital for further evaluation and treatment of unspecified injuries.
After a 19-minute stoppage, the race resumed with the second attempt at a green-white-checker finish.
The wild wreck on Lap 117 was emblematic of an action-filled race.
Contact from Kurt Busch’s No. 1 Chevrolet sent Brian Scott’s No. 11 Toyota spinning on Lap 29, triggering a wreck that also involved Josh Richards, Morgan Shepherd and Jason Bowles.
Busch was charging from the back of the field after serving a penalty for dragging a fuel can from his pit stall when Johanna Long’s blown engine put the field under caution on Lap 22.
Under yellow for a Lap 29 wreck, Austin Dillon ran into the back of John Wes Townley’s No. 24 Toyota, which was blocking Dillon’s exit from the pit box.
Dillon’s car sustained cosmetic damage, and the reigning Camping World Truck Series champion soon worked his way back to the front of the field. His day ended when he was involved in the Lap 117 melee, leaving him to finish 17th.
Earnhardt had led 19 laps before a multicar wreck on the frontstretch slowed the action for the third time moments after the field had completed Lap 62. Brad Sweet spun off the front bumper of Mike Wallace’s Chevrolet and slammed nose-first into the outside wall.
Richards’ spin on Lap 81 caused the fourth caution, providing the opportunity for fuel stops inside the window to the finish.