Joey Logano wins the Great Clips 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. He beat Brian Vickers on a green-white-checkered restart, winning by over five car lengths. It could be Logano's last victory at Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series as there is just one race left in the season until Logano moves to Penske Racing. Logano led 169 of the 200 laps and while it may have appeared to be easy, Logano said it wasn't at all.
"They didn't make it easy on me with all those cautions," Logano said. "With this being such a short race there wasn't a whole lot of time to make adjustments."
The cautions Logano was talking about were 10 cautions flags that flew during the race. Three seperate spins by John Blankenship and Noel Dowler added six cautions to the race. Timmy Hill spun on lap 148 and Paulie Harraka spun twice. The last caution of the day on lap 198, may have been the biggest.
On lap 198 Brian Vickers was fighting hard with teammate Joey Logano for the lead and it looked like Vickers would win his first race driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, a team he will run full-time for in 2013. While they were battling another battle on the race track was occuring.
That was the battle was for the championship. Elliott Sadler's #2 Chevrolet had had problems with handling all day long. Sadler crashed his primary car in qualifying and drove a backup in the race. The car just didn't handle as well as Sadler had liked and he found himself in the 11th position in the closing laps. Ricky Stenhouse Jr was third and making a big gain on the points lead. Sadler had tried to get to the top ten when coming into the dog leg, his car got loose and made contact with Cole Whitt, sending both cars spinning into the outside wall. Sadler's car was then hit by teammate Brendan Gaughan, doing damage to Sadler's Chevrolet that was almost impossible to fix. Sadler's bad day had gone from bad to worse as his hopes for the championship have dwindled as the series heads for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Sadler described what had happened on the last caution.
"I did it to myself," Sadler stated. "Put my team in a hole by qualifying like I did. I appoligize for putting us in this position heading into Homestead."
Sadler's team did get his car back on the racetrack but he had lost a couple laps and dropped to the 22nd position as the badly damaged Chevrolet crossed the start finish line on the final lap.
When the race restarted on lap 200 for the first green-white-checkered finish Joey Logano pulled away from teammate Brian Vickers. Vickers would hold onto the second position after a late charge by third place driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Finishing fourth was Kyle Busch, with Kasey Kahne coming home fifth. Sixth went to Austin Dillon, who salvaged a decent day, seventh was Michael Annett, with Brian Scott coming home eighth, ninth was Brad Keselowski and Danica Patrick rounded out the top ten.
From the begining it appeared to be a Joey Logano dominated race but on lap 75 Stenhouse stayed out to get the one extra bonus point for leading a lap. By lap 88 though, Logano had a big lead again and was leading by a big margin. On a lap 95 restart, after a Paulie Harraka spin, Elliott Sadler was third after pit strategy moved the Emporia, Virginia driver up the front of the field. Sadler's car was dreadful on restarts and he almost crashed as he went from 3rd to 17th on the restart. From there the race belonged to Logano, except for a late race surge by teammate Vickers.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr leads the point standings as the Nationwide Series heads into the final race of the season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He leads second place man Elliott Sadler by 20 points. Austin Dillon still has an outside shot at the championship as well as he trails by 25 points heading into the Ford 300. Fourth in the standings is Sam Hornish Jr, with Michael Annett fifth, Justin Allgaier sixth, Cole Whitt seventh, Mike Bliss eighth, Brian Scott ninth and Danica Patrick tenth.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series will run the season finale Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 17th.
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