Joey Logano Fulfills Boss’ Orders At Chicagoland

Joliet, Ill., July 21 – While most of the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers were enjoying their final weekend off until the end of the season in November, Joey Logano went to Chicagoland Speedway and won the STP 300 NASCAR Nationwide race on Sunday.

Logano’s boss, car owner Roger Penske, asked him to came to the track and drive the #22 Hertz Ford in an effort to close on JD Gibbs in Penske’s quest to win the Nationwise Series car owner’s championship.

Logano fulfilled his owner’s wish, quipping, “How do you say no to R.P.?”

It paid off, as Penske was able to close to within 34 points of Gibbs.

Logano’s teammate, Sam Hornish Jr., was on the pole of the race, while Logano started seventh.

When the initial green came out with Hornish bringing the field to the line, it stayed out for just a few brief moments as Joey Gase, who started mid-pack, blew his engine just as he came across the starting line.

This bought out the yellow when the leaders were approximately 200 yards past the starting line.

Gase’s car dropped a large amount of oil all the way around the track and it took several laps and a lot of track drying material to clean the track.

The green came out again on Lap 8 with the filed lined up basically the same as at the start,

On the restart, Hornish took the lead and appeared to be off for an easy Sunday afternoon drive.

By Lap 15, Hornish had a .584 second lead over second place Elliott Sadler, while Austin Dillon was third, Brian Vickers was fourth and Matt Crafton, in a rare Nationwide Series appearance, rounded out the top five.

Five laps later, the field was strung out around the track, with Hornish holding a .546 second over Sadler, while Vickers was about five seconds behind Sadler.

By Lap 40 the top ten were Hornish, Sadler, Vickers, Dillon, Logano, Crafton, Brian Scott, Trevor Bayne, Parker Kligerman and Justin Allgaier.

A fortuitous caution came out on Lap 49, as the field was just about to begin green flag pit stops, when Harrison Rhodes engine blew and his car oiled the track.

Most of the field headed to the pits under the yellow. Sadler beat Hornish out of the pits to claim the lead while Logano, Bayne, Vickers and Dillon followed Hornish back onto the track.

The complexion of the race then suddenly changed, as it was announced that Hornish was too fast coming into the pits and would have to restart at the end of the field.

“It was a miscommunication on whether the pits were open,” Hornish said after the race.

He noted that by the time he realized that the pits were open he knew he was too fast on the entrance. “It was on me that I sped,” he added.

With Hornish sent to the rear, the top five when the green came back out on Lap 54 were Sadler, Logano, Bayne, Vickers and Dillon.

On the first green lap, Logano snatched the lead from Sadler, but held it for only two laps before Sadler reassumed the point.

Soon thereafter, Dillon took second from Logano and settled into second as Logan and Vickers waged a battle for third for a number of laps.

The top five remained the same at Lap 85 with Sadler holding a one second lead over Dillon as Vickers and Logano continued to battle for third. Meanwhile, Hornish had worked his way back from the rear of the field to sixth place.

After the field cycled through green flag pit stops from Laps 100-108, Dillon emerged as the leader after Sadler had a long pit stop.

The field was more spread out as on Lap 109, Dillon was almost three seconds ahead of Sadler, Vickers was third and Logano was fourth. Hornish was fifth, 8.4 seconds back, while Crafton was another five seconds behind Hornish.

The field closed back up when the yellow came out Lap 115 after Travis Pastrana had a tire go down. He hit the wall in Turn 1, but was able to return to the pits to change tires and continue in the race.

On the restart, with the field closed up, the battle for third heated up, as Vickers, Logano and Hornish ran three wide.

Crafton, who had been running toward the front, dropped back in the field after reporting a strong vibration.

The yellow came out again on Lap 130 when Regan Smith, the series point leader going into the race, spun on the frontstretch, went through the infield grass and went on to pit road and back onto the track. As he was going across the track, he just missed Michael Annett, who had gone low in an attempt to miss Smith.

Under the yellow, much of the field elected to pit, with most taking four tires and fuel, while Logano elected to only take two tires.

On the Lap 134 restart, Kyle Larson, who did not pit, led, while Mike Bliss, who also did not pit, ran second. Logano, with his two-tire stop was third, while Dillon was fourth, Sadler was fifth and Hornish ran sixth.

Logano got the lead back the next lap as Larson and Bliss faded into the field.

By Lap 144, the top three of Logano, Sadler and Hornish, battled for the lead, with Sadler assuming the point on Lap 146.

As the laps ticked off, there was growing concern over fuel mileage and if the leaders would be able to make it to the finish.

That concern was eliminated on Lap 172 when Bliss spin in Turn 4 while trying to get to the pits, again bringing out the yellow banner.

Under the yellow, the field came to the pits with 27 laps to go. After all took four tires and fuel, the field came out with Sadler leading, Hornish second, Logano third, Dillon fourth and Bayne fifth.

On the restart, the battle for the lead was three wide with Hornish emerging as the leader.

The green flag period was short-lived as the yellow came back out on Lap 180 when Reed Sorenson’s engine blew, oiling down the track.

When the field came back down for the green on Lap 186, Hornish and Logano were on the front row, with Logano grabbing the lead from Hornish on the restart.

For the final 15 laps of the race, Hornish was unable to catch Logano, who took the victory .291 of a second in front of Hornish. Dillon was third, Sadler fourth and Vickers rounded out the top five.

With his second place finish, Hornish has taken over the series point lead with a seven point lead over previous point leader Smith.

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