It’s hard to bet against Joey Logano these days in the Nationwide Series.
Logano raced to his eighth Nationwide Series victory of the year Friday night, passing Brad Keselowski with eight laps to go after taking on two tires and a splash of gas.
Logano led 62 laps en route to his 17th career victory and first at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He has made 18 series starts this season.
”I just had to adjust my style a little bit and get this little 20 car rocking and get these guys in victory lane one more time,” Logano said.
Keselowski gambled by making a quick pit stop with nine laps left and taking on no tires, but his pit crew didn’t get enough fuel in his tank and he couldn’t challenge for the lead. He finished 18th.
Kevin Harvick was second, followed by Nationwide points leader Elliott Sadler. Kyle Busch finished fourth and Denny Hamlin fifth in a competitive race that included 11 Sprint Cup regulars.
Austin Dillon, who entered the race third in the standings 25 points behind Sadler, finished sixth and is now 29 points behind. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Brian Scott, James Buescher and Michael Annett rounded out the top 10.
Logano questioned his crew chief Adam Stevens about whether it was good idea for the No. 20 Toyota to take on two right side tires when he entered the pits with 15 laps to go.
That meant briefly giving up the lead.
Even car owner J.D. Gibbs questioned the move.
”I was like, `Two tires? No, no, no,”’ Gibbs said. ”Then (a few minutes later) I’m like, `OK, good call.”’
Said Logano: ”I thought the same thing.”
Logano said that’s why he’s the driver, not the crew chief.
”Thank God he doesn’t listen to me sometimes,” Logano said. ”He’s smarter than me. He knew how much time two tires were going to pick us up. I wondered why at the time, but he has these things planned out.”
Logano called Charlotte one of his favorite tracks and was happy to get the monkey off his back here.
”For some reason I’ve never been fast enough,” Logano said. ”I’ve had top-five cars, but never had a car to win. I think it’s somewhat myself and making sure I know what to do when the track changes. But I love this place. It was a lot of fun to get a win here.”
Sadler came in with a nine-point lead over Stenhouse in the Nationwide Series standings. He expanded that edge to 13 after Stenhouse’s seventh-place finish.
Sadler said he wanted to win, but came away happy with the third-place finish.
”It was a good run and anytime you gain points, we’re going to call it a good night,” Sadler said.
The championship hopes of Sam Hornish Jr. and Justin Allgaier, who were fourth and fifth respectively in the Nationwide Series standings, took a hit when they crashed on lap 13.
Hornish’s spotter, Chris Osborne, told him he’d cleared Allgaier, who was on the outside, when he hadn’t. Hornish slid up the track and rammed Allgaier into the wall.
”I got cleared and he said, `My bad,”’ Hornish said. ”It’s unfortunate. It was a bad call that cost us tonight. But he doesn’t make many mistakes so I’ll forgive him. We all make mistakes.”
With four Nationwide Series races left, Sadler is closing in on a championship.
But he views next week’s race at Kansas as crucial.
”I think that is the wild card,” Sadler said.
Danica Patrick finished 11th and was on the lead lap until the very end in one of her better efforts of the season.