Logano wins to continue JGR dominance in Fontana

Amanda Vincent, NASCAR correspondent

Joey Logano drove the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) Toyota to the checkered flag and into victory lane following the Royal Purple 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Saturday. The win was the eighth-straight in series competition at the track.

"Just really excited for all our guys," team owner Joe Gibbs said. "Joey did a great job today. All our guys did."

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished second in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, and Brad Keselowski was third in the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge.

(Crew chief) Adam Stevens gave me a great car, it was the class of the field all day.

Joey Logano

Logano's win was the first for a Sprint Cup Series regular in Nationwide Series competition in 2012, five races into the season.

"(Crew chief) Adam Stevens gave me a great car," Logano said. "It was the class of the field all day."

Logano started the race from the pole, with the No. 31 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet of Justin Allgaier in the second starting spot. The two drivers ran first and second for the first 22 laps of the race, until Keselowski got by Allgaier for second. A couple of laps later, Keselowski battled side-by-side with Logano for the lead, finally taking the top spot on lap 27.

Keselowski's lead grew during a cycle of green-flag pit stops that got underway on lap 33. He had a lead of more than four seconds by the time the cycle completed. Keselowski's large lead was erased, though, by the first caution of the race that came out for debris on the back straightaway on lap 56.

Keselowski got too close to the pit wall pulling in for service, and lost several positions when his team had trouble servicing his car. Logano headed off pit road first to inherit the lead, and Elliott Sadler restarted second in the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Keselowski was relegated to the ninth position for the restart.

Sadler took the lead briefly on lap 63, but by lap 65, Logano was back in the top spot. As Sadler lost a few more positions, Allgaier rejoined Logano up front.

Logano maintained first position through another set of yellow-flag pit stops during a caution that came out on lap 95. Keselowski, again, got into his pit stall awkwardly and, again, restarted ninth.

By that time, Kyle Busch, who started the race in the back in the No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota after missing driver introductions, had made his way toward the front. Busch was part of a three-wide battle for the lead that also included Logano and Stenhouse with 49 laps to go.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Busch took the lead with 39 laps remaining, but Logano didn't back down, as the two raced side-by-side for the top spot for several laps. Keselowski recovered from his most-recent bad pit stop by that time and joined the battle up front. He took the lead for the final time with 26 laps to go.

"Just good racing there," Keselowski said. "This is one of the best races of the year for the Nationwide Series."

Logano got back to the lead with 22 laps remaining, but lost his post up front during the fourth and final caution of the race that came out with just under 20 laps to go. Pit strategy moved Logano back to third for the restart after he took on four new tires. Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, and Sadler each took only two tires to restart first and second. Miscommunication by Busch's pit crew resulted in a slow stop that resulted in a 17th-place restart.

Logano and Keselowski quickly got by Bayne and Sadler, but with nine laps to go, Stenhouse took the runner-up spot from Keselowski.

"I knew if we kept going on, (crew chief) Mike Kelly and the guys would make the right calls," Stenhouse said. "We were loose, tight, loose, tight."

Brian Scott finished fourth in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to give JGR two spots inside the top-five finishing order. Austin Dillon rounded out the top-five in his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

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Tags featured, gibbs, logano, vincent