The steep concrete banks of Dover International Speedway aside, Saturday’s OneMain Financial 200 was hardly a cliffhanger as Joey Logano dominated from start to finish in winning his seventh Nationwide Series race of the season.
Momentarily, at least, a caution on Lap 177 for Tim Andrews’ blown engine injected a modicum of suspense, but Logano reasserted his superiority after a restart on Lap 182 and pulled away for his second victory at the Monster Mile and the 16th of his career.
Logano, who led 184 of 200 laps, crossed the finish line 0.876 seconds ahead of runner-up Paul Menard to complete a season sweep at Dover. Michael Annett ran third, tying his career-best in the Nationwide Series, and fourth-place Elliott Sadler increased his series lead to nine points over defending champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who finished ninth. Kyle Busch completed the top five.
Logano said the winning moves actually started in Friday’s practice, after the track began to resemble what he and crew chief Adam Stevens thought would be Saturday’s racing conditions.
“The track changed a lot throughout practice,” Logano said, “and we knew the direction we needed to go for when the race started. Adam did a really good job of keeping his head in the game and knowing which way it was going to go — keeping my head in the game and knowing which way the race track was going to go. That helped.
“The first few laps, when the track was green [before it rubbered in], we were a second-place car behind the 31 [of Justin Allgaier]. Once it rubbered up, it was like, ‘OK, now I’ve got my old race car back,’ and we were able to stay out front most of the day after that.”
By the time NASCAR called a planned competition caution on Lap 46, Logano had opened a lead of roughly three seconds. Kasey Kahne took over the top spot with a two-tire call under yellow, but Logano regained the lead moments after a restart on Lap 51.
The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota held the lead until the second caution of the afternoon — resulting from oil on the track from Jeremy Clements’ car — slowed the field on Lap 116. The brief interruption, however, didn’t slow Logano, who took off again from a restart on Lap 124 and built a lead of 1.5 seconds over Allgaier.
Menard, who took over the second spot after both Allgaier and Sam Hornish Jr. had tire issues, pointed to Logano’s advantage on restarts as the difference in the race.
“We had a really good long-run car,” Menard said. “I believe we were the fastest car on the track, faster than Joey, but he could just take off faster than us. I don’t think he got passed all day.”
Sadler and Annett likewise took advantage of the final restart, when Kahne held up the bottom lane and allowed drivers on the outside to leap-frog toward the front. For Sadler, the positions gained toward the end of the race vastly improved what had been a difficult afternoon.
“We just fought a loose race car all day,” Sadler said. “The guys did a good job, made some good adjustments at the end, and we got a pretty fortunate restart there. It was a good run all in all for us. I wish I had done a better job [Friday in practice] of getting it ready for the race, but all in all, that’s a good finish for us.”
Darrell Wallace, 18, who claimed the top starting position during Saturday’s qualifying, is the first African-American driver to win a pole in the Nationwide Series. Wallace, part of NASCAR’s youth movement dubbed the “Next 9,” is a six-time winner in the K&N Pro Series East. He finished 12th to end a streak of three straight top-10 results in his first three Nationwide starts.