On a green-white-checker attempt to finish the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Friday night, Joey Logano moved out ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, who had dominated the race, to take the checkered flag and claim victory. Hamlin, who led 103 laps in the race that was scheduled for a 147-lap distance, had to settle for runner-up honors.
“We can’t just keep dominating these races and not win them,” a frustrated Hamlin said after the race.
Meanwhile, Elliott Sadler was forced to watch from the sidelines, as the JGR drivers battled for the win in the closing laps. Sadler got off pit road first after a call by crew chief Luke Lambert to take only two tires during a caution that came out with 21 laps to go. While the call for two tires usually isn’t the best call at Darlington, it seemed to work for Sadler, as he was able to hold off Logano, Hamlin, and the rest of the field when the race went back to green.
Sadler’s quest for his third win of 2012 went up in smoke, though, on a restart with under 10 laps to go when Logano, who was running third and right behind Sadler at the time, gave Sadler’s No. 2 car a push to get by the second-place-running Hamlin.
“He was just bump drafting me, trying to give me some help,” Sadler said. “I understand what he was trying to do, but you don’t just bump draft everywhere you go.”
After the race, Logano accepted responsibility for the incident and offered an apology.
“That was, obviously, not on purpose,” Logano said.
The assist became disasterous when Sadler’s car turned and crashed hard into the wall. As a result, Sadler’s night was ended just a few laps early, resulting in a 24th-place finish. Hamlin was first for the final restart of the race, but Logano jetted out to the lead when the green flag waved and drove on to the win, his second-consecutive victory in Nationwide Series competition.
“I had a little game plan under caution on how to win this thing,” Logano said.
According to Hamlin, a mechanical issue kept him from keeping up with Logano at the end.
“We lost a cylinder,” Hamlin said. “The water temperature went pegged and everything, and we lost a cylinder. That’s the way it goes.”
Another driver who ran near the front for most of the race, Kurt Busch, also saw his race end prematurely because of a wreck. After leading a few laps, Busch settled into second but had a tire go down on his No. 54 car with 22 laps to go, as he was passed for the position by Logano. The tire issue put Busch into the wall and out of the race.
A pair of Penske Racing teammates, Brad Keselowski and Sam Hornish Jr., finished third and fourth, while Austin Dillon rounded out the top-five. Series points leader, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. posted a finish that matched his car number — sixth.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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