by Reid Spencer for NASCAR
CONCORD, N.C.—You can call him the dominator.
Joey Logano buried the field in the final run of Friday night’s Dollar General 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and won his eighth Nationwide Series race of the season in 18 starts.
Logano beat Kevin Harvick to the finish line by 2.760 seconds to win for the first time at Charlotte and the 17th time in his career. Series leader Elliott Sadler ran third and extended his advantage to 13 points over Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who came home seventh.
Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin completed the top five.
Logano changed his racing line after losing the lead to Harvick on Lap 155. That, coupled with a loose handling condition for Harvick, proved the difference.
“I didn’t have an option,” Logano said. ‘I was getting beat, and I knew I had to do something. I moved to the top, and I was like, ‘Hey, there’s something here.’ Just kind of had to adjust my style and get this little No. 20 car rocking and get these guys in Victory Lane one more time.
“I still have a few more left.”
Brad Keselowski took the lead from Joey Logano at the midpoint of the race and quickly pulled away to a lead of more than one second. Stenhouse got by Logano for the second spot on Lap 116 but couldn’t make headway on the leader.
When Stenhouse’s car began to fade slightly as the run progressed, Logano retook second, but a caution for debris on Lap 131 gave the lead-lap cars a chance to pit for tires and fuel and bunched the field for the restart on Lap 137.
Sadler gained two positions to second on the exchange of stops, but Stenhouse fell seven spots to 10th with an uncharacteristically slow pit stop marked by indecision as to whether to straighten the right side of the rear spoiler. Stenhouse had bent the spoiler during a slight brush with the outside wall.
It was Logano who led the field to a restart on Lap 137, but Harvick tracked him down and passed the No. 20 Toyota in traffic on Lap 155. On Lap 162, however, both Logano and Keselowski shot past Harvick into the top two spots, after the handling of Harvick’s Chevrolet began to deteriorate.
After the Lap 137 restart, all drivers had to stop for fuel before the end of the race, which proved Keselowski’s undoing. His crew failed to engage the gas can and did not get fuel in the car on a splash-and-go with 10 laps left. That set up Logano for the decisive win.
Harvick said passing in most Charlotte night races is difficult, but Friday’s event was an exception.
“Tonight was a different story,” Harvick said. “You could run all over the race track — run the top, the bottom and the middle. For us, as the night went on, our car got looser up off the corner, and the 20 (Logano) seemed to get a little bit better. We just lost a little bit of pace there, but all in all, it was a good night for us.”