Charging forward from the seventh position after a restart on Lap 158 of 200, Logano overtook pole-sitter Ryan Truex for the lead on Lap 195 to win the 5-Hour Energy 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, leading a 1-2-3 finish for Joe Gibbs Racing.
In winning his fourth Nationwide race in 10 starts this season and the 13th of his career, Logano finished 1.526 seconds ahead of Truex, who was 11 days removed from an emergency appendectomy.
When Logano came to the pits on Lap 152 after spinning Tim Bainey Jr. to cause the sixth and final caution on Lap 151 (an incident Logano attributed to a rookie not giving the leader enough room), Truex inherited the lead and appeared headed for a fairy tale finish until Logano caught him with five laps left.
Brian Scott ran third, followed by Kurt Busch and Justin Allgaier.
Logano led 154 laps in claiming his third victory in his last four Nationwide starts. The driver of the No. 18 Toyota said his current success was due to improvements made during the offseason.
“Last year we struggled a little bit, and we were able to really diagnose some of the things we could do better as a team,” Logano said. “We also did a great job making our cars better — better aero, better motors, all that stuff adds up. We’re coming to the racetrack with a better package and are able to make small adjustments to tune it in better, and that all transfers to the race.”
Logano trailed Truex by more than two seconds with 12 laps left, but Truex was slowed by two lapped cars on Lap 195, enabling Logano to close quickly and make the pass.
“We were pretty free that last run, and Joey was catching us on new tires,” Truex said. “I don’t think he would have caught me in five laps, but I just caught traffic at the wrong time. For some reason, those guys were racing each other 20 laps down in front of me, and I had nowhere to go, and that was the end of it.”
The surgery was not an issue for Truex at all.
“From the second I got in the race car, I didn’t even remember that I had surgery,” Truex said. “That was no issue. That was the last thing that would come to my mind as I was racing.”
The race was not yet 27 laps old when the championship battle turned upside down. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., running second to Logano at the time, lost control of his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford off Turn 2 and slammed nose-first into the inside wall on the backstretch.
“I just lost it,” Stenhouse said. “I wasn’t up on the wheel and just kind of riding around until that competition caution (scheduled for Lap 40) and just got behind on the steering. “It was driver error, totally my fault.”
For the second straight week, Stenhouse took a major hit in the standings. A broken drive shaft May 26 at Charlotte cost him most of his championship lead. With Saturday’s trouble — even though he returned to the track on lap 94 — Stenhouse finished 32nd and fell from first to second, 12 points behind Elliott Sadler (seventh Saturday) and two ahead of third-place Austin Dillon (sixth Saturday).
After the competition caution, which ran from Laps 42-45, the race settled into a long green-flag run, with Logano blitzing the field. After a cycle of green-flag stops that ended on Lap 123, there were seven cars left on the lead lap, and Logano had been out front for 120 of the 123 circuits.
But when Timmy Hill spun in close-quarters racing in front of Sam Hornish Jr. on Lap 124, Sadler got a free pass back to the lead lap as the highest scored lapped car.
Two laps after the subsequent restart, Hornish’s Dodge broke loose under Danica Patrick’s Chevrolet. Patrick clobbered the outside wall in a wreck that also collected Brad Sweet. Patrick took her car to the garage and was credited with a 30th-place finish.