(WOMR file photo)
The weather turned cold, and the wind stirred up, as dawn broke Saturday morning here in the desert, specifically at Phoenix International Raceway. However, that had no bearing on the Nationwide racing that was to start slightly after high noon. The racing was smoking hot!
Joey Logano got his ninth victory of the season Saturday as he dominated the Great Clips 200 Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Logano out-fought new Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brian Vickers over the final laps to get his first victory at PIR.
Elliott Sadler, meanwhile, may have lost his bid for the championship when he wrecked to force a green/white/checkered-flag finish.
Defending NNS champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran third and opened his lead in the series standings to 20 points over Sadler, whose late crash led to a 22nd-place finish.
Stenhouse can lock up his second straight title with a finish of 16th or better at Homestead, 17th if he leads a lap and 18th if he leads the most laps.
“We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing,” Stenhouse said. “We’ve given up 20 points in one race, so it’s not even close to over… It’s going to be tough, because obviously I’m going to have to not push the limits as much as I like. I like going for race wins, too, so it’s going to be a fine balance there.”
Coming to the white flag in 12th position Saturday, Sadler tangled with the Chevrolet of Cole Whitt, backed into the outside wall and turned sideways into the path of Richard Childress Racing teammate Brendan Gaughan.
The blow from Gaughan’s Chevy tore the nose off Sadler’s car. NASCAR red-flagged the race, and Sadler sat in his crippled car, after driving away from the accident scene. Sadler lost a lap in the pits while his car was repaired and rolled across the finish line at half speed, finishing in 22nd place.
“I did it to myself,” Sadler said. “I put my team in a hole, qualifying like I did. We tried to work on this car as much as we could, and I just got a little loose there, getting under the 88 (Whitt).
“I just wanted to say, ‘My fault.’ I should have done a better job for these guys. I just apologized to them for putting them in this position heading to Homestead (site of next Saturday’s season finale). We’re going to go there and fight, but I definitely dug ourselves a hole.”