Keeping Pace

Logano Overcomes Obstacles For Auto Club Speedway Win

Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 GameStop/Brutal Legend Toyota, does a burnout for the fans after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Copart 300 at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday in Fontana, Calif. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR) (Jason Smith / The Spokesman-Review)
Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 GameStop/Brutal Legend Toyota, does a burnout for the fans after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Copart 300 at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday in Fontana, Calif. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR) (Jason Smith / The Spokesman-Review)

Joey Logano rallied from 25th position after Greg Biffle forced him into the backstretch wall while Biffle was passing for the lead on Lap 50 of 152.

Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations

FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 10, 2009) -- Resurrecting his hopes after sustaining early damage to his No. 20 Toyota, polesitter Joey Logano won Saturday's Copart 300, an event he described as "the most fun race I've ever had in my life."

For others, particularly NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader Kyle Busch and his relief driver, Denny Hamlin, the race at two-mile Auto Club Speedway was anything but a barrel of laughs.

 Taking over for Busch after 39 laps -- because Busch had a case of the flu that wouldn't let up -- Hamlin collided with Greg Biffle off Turn 4 while fighting for the lead on Lap 141 and exited the race with an irreparable car.

The accident put a substantial dent in Busch's points lead over third-place finisher Carl Edwards, who now trails Busch by 155 points with five races left in the season. Brad Keselowski, who rallied from a slow restart on a green-white-checkered-flag finish that took the race two laps beyond its scheduled distance, finished fifth and is third in points, 227 behind Busch.

Logano rallied from 25th position after Biffle forced him into the backstretch wall while Biffle was passing for the lead on Lap 50 of 152.

"I didn't think we had a shot at it after Biffle decided to put us in the wall," said Logano, who pulled away from runner-up Brian Vickers after the final restart on Lap 151. "Apparently, that was the only way he thought he could beat us, but you can't put this 20 team down.

"We never quit, kept digging all day. I definitely didn't think we had a shot at it. It was just amazing. … That was the most fun race I ever had in my life. I went through a point there where (I said to myself) 'I don't have a shot at this' to 'Try to salvage a top 10 out of it' to bringing home a W."

Though 19-year-old Logano got his second straight Nationwide win, his fifth this season and the sixth of his brief career, the race ended in controversy, with Logano's father, Tom Logano, confronting Biffle as the driver sat in his car on pit road.

Kevin Harvick ran fourth, and rookie Michael Annett came home sixth, his best result in his 31 Nationwide starts.

Keselowski passed Hamlin for the lead through Turns 1 and 2 moments after a restart on Lap 125. Before the completion of that lap, two separate incidents caused the seventh caution of the race. John Wes Townley's Ford slid up the track into Jason Leffler's Toyota, spinning both cars, and collecting the Dodge of Michael McDowell.

Less than 100 yards ahead of that accident, the Dodge of Justin Allgaier went three-wide between the Toyota of Trevor Bayne and the Chevrolet of Brendan Gaughan, forcing Gaughan into the wall near the exit from Turn 2.

Hamlin took the lead after the subsequent restart on Lap 129 and held it through a subsequent caution, until the collision with Biffle's Ford on Lap 141 -- with Keselowski in close pursuit -- put him out of the race.

Busch's flu symptoms worsened during Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup practice, prompting the driver change under the first caution of the race, on Lap 39.

"It's just temperature," Busch said after the switch with Hamlin. "When I get in the car and I get hot, I start not being able to see exactly straight. The car was really good, though. … Unfortunately, I didn't feel it was in my best interest or the team's best interest to win this race to keep going.

"More laps and getting hotter in the seat probably would have diminished my performance a little."

Busch was confident he'd be back in the seat of his No. 18 Toyota for Sunday's Pepsi 500 Sprint Cup race.

"Another problem is wanting to get out today in order to compete in the full 500 miles tomorrow," Busch said. "Fortunately, today (Saturday), we've got Denny Hamlin, who's a great relief driver that can drive for me. I can try to go back now and rest up, cool down to try to get this fever under control and be ready for (Sunday)."

Asked if he had a relief driver lined up just in case, Busch said, "Not yet -- I think I can do it."




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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.





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