CONCORD, N.C. - Joey Logano pulled a rabbit out of his hat Sunday night.
The Team Penske driver made the most of a late race restart, stacking the leaders three wide to sweep into the top spot with 11 laps to go in the rain delayed NASCAR Xfinity Series Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
From there, Logano held off Elliott Sadler to score the victory just hours after seeing his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase hopes take a hit with a crash earlier in the day.
“I knew my only shot was on the restart … I was huffing and puffing and giving it all I got,” Logano said. “To come out here and compete at this level shows the depth of this team and Team Penske. It was a long night but a good recovery from earlier in the day, when I tried to knock the wall down. Obviously we had a good car. Maybe we didn’t have the best car but we had something that we could make something happen with.”
It gives Logano the 27th series win of his career, and his second of the season.
Kyle Larson had dominated the event, leading six times for 165 laps, at one point having most of the field down at least one lap.
But a late caution tightened the field up, and as Larson battled Justin Allgaier on the final restart, Logano made a bold move on the low side to stack the leaders three wide. As the trio entered the third turn, Logano edged ahead, and took the lead off turn four.
As the laps wound down, Larson began to close, charging hard to try to retake the lead. Logano changed his line to match Larson, and was able to hold him at bay.
Behind the leaders, Elliott Sadler charged to third. When Larson made contact with the wall, Sadler moved to second, and tried to hunt down Logano’s No. 12 Ford.
But Logano had the edge, and took the victory.
Sadler finished in second, with Daniel Suarez third, Larson in fourth and Erik Jones in fifth.
Behind him, the race to make the next round of the Xfinity Series Chase was intense, with Charlotte representing an Elimination round for four drivers.
Darrell Wallace, Jr. fought back from problems to finish 20th, 3 laps down, but he moves on to the Round of 8 in the last transfer spot.
“I didn’t think too much about points until my spotter, who knows me like the back of my hand, he just said a couple of words. ‘We need this spot bad’ and he left it at that,” Wallace, Jr. said. “We had to dig for it on that last restart, so that put up in by one point. We just have to work hard.”
He joins Suarez, Sadler, Allgaier, Brendan Gaughan, Ryan Reed, Erik Jones and Blake Koch in moving through to the next round.
Suarez enters the Round of 8 as the number one seed. He said he thinks the next tracks in the Chase will be good for him.
“Kansas I think is going to be pretty good as well for us. After Kansas, we have a little break. I’m going to Mexico to have a little fun, to have a little rest and then we are coming back to race. I think after Kansas we are going to have a good couple weeks to relax and think about everything and to start everything again.”
“We really wanted to win this race,” said Sadler, who enters the Round of 8 as the number two seed. “Any time I get to run this pink race car it’s very sentimental to me and my family. My mom wasn’t able to be here this weekend because she is still recovering. All I could think about those last few laps was trying to get by Joey (Logano) and trying to get that win. It just shows how hard my team really works on the car.”
Meanwhile, Ty Dillon and Brennan Poole failed to transfer. Also failing to make the next round was a pair of Peach State drivers, as Ryan Sieg of Tucker, Georgia and Brandon Jones of Atlanta, Georgia did not make the cut.
“You can’t explain it,” Dillon said afterwards. “You’ve got to be able to step up and be a championship team when it matters most, and we didn’t.”
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Charlotte Motor Speedway – Concord, NC
Drive for the Cure 300 – October 9, 2016
1. (3) Joey Logano(i), Ford, 200.
2. (14) Elliott Sadler, Chevrole, 200.
3. (4) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 200.
4. (1) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 200.
5. (2) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 200.
6. (7) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 200.
7. (19) Kevin Harvick(i), Chevrolet, 200.
8. (16) Matt Tifft(i), Toyota, 200.
9. (17) Brad Keselowski(i), Ford, 200.
10. (9) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 199.
11. (8) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 199.
12. (6) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 199.
13. (11) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 199.
14. (10) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 199.
15. (12) Ryan Reed, Ford, 198.
16. (5) Brandon Jones #, Chevrolet, 198.
17. (18) Jeb Burton, Ford, 198.
18. (13) Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 198.
19. (20) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 198.
20. (15) Darrell Wallace, Jr., Ford, 197.
21. (24) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 196.
22. (23) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 196.
23. (30) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 195.
24. (25) Spencer Gallagher(i), Chevrolet, 195.
25. (29) Garrett Smithley #, Chevrolet, 195.
26. (34) Clint King, Ford, 195.
27. (21) J.J. Yeley, Toyota, 194.
28. (22) Ray Black, Jr. #, Chevrolet, 194.
29. (26) David Starr, Chevrolet, 193.
30. (32) B.J. McLeod #, Ford, 193.
31. (38) Martin Roy, Chevrolet, 191.
32. (37) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 189.
33. (35) Jordan Anderson(i), Chevrolet, 188.
34. (36) Brandon Hightower, Dodge, 188.
35. (40) Chris Cockrum, Chevrolet, 168.
36. (31) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, Oil Leak, 160.
37. (27) Jeff Green, Toyota, Electrical, 104.
38. (39) Mike Harmon, Dodge, Too Slow, 50.
39. (33) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Handling, 49.
40. (28) Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Electrical, 33.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 143.56 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 5 Mins, 23 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.462 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 4 for 19 laps.
Lead Changes: 12 among 5 drivers.
Lap Leaders: K. Larson(i) 1-27; R. Sieg 28; K. Larson(i) 29-48; E. Jones # 49-50; K. Larson(i) 51-68; E. Jones # 69; K. Larson(i) 70-118; E. Jones # 119-120; K. Larson(i) 121-159; E. Jones # 160-175; K. Larson(i) 176-187; J. Allgaier 188; J. Logano(i) 189-200.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Larson(i) 6 times for 165 laps; E. Jones # 4 times for 21 laps; J. Logano(i) 1 time for 12 laps; R. Sieg 1 time for 1 lap; J. Allgaier 1 time for 1 lap.
Top 10 in Points: D. Suarez – 2,125; E. Sadler – 2,124; J. Allgaier – 2,107; B. Gaughan – 2,096; R. Reed – 2,091; E. Jones # – 2,090; B. Koch – 2,087; D. Wallace Jr – 2,085; T. Dillon – 2,084; B. Poole # – 2,080.