By Roger Faulkner
Saturday was hot, humid and wet at Kentucky Motor Speedway but the Nascar Nationwide Series was able to dodge the proverbial bullet to get two practice sessions in. For the Double duty Cup drivers it was replacements for all in the first practice as Matt DiBenedetto filled in for Joey Logano, Erik Darnell covered for Carl Edwards, Jarit Johnson for Joe Nemechek, Ricky Stenhouse Jr turned laps for Paul Menard and Parker Kligerman wheeled the 22 car for point leader Brad Keselowski.
When the cars came back out for the second practice, only Joey Logano had arrived at Kentucky to practice the Nationwide car. Joey ran a total of 35 laps and managed to post the 8th fastest time. But he showed the results of that effort Saturday afternoon as he grabbed the pole with a fast lap of 30.472 seconds for 177.212 mph.
As the rain had caused delays in the Nascar Camping World Truck race at Michigan the weather was threatening all day long at Kentucky. As the weather radar in the media center showed heavy rain clouds headed for the track, they managed to get all 45 cars through qualifying. When the field was set, it was Logano and Joe Gibbs teammate Brad Coleman in the 18 car starting on the front row. Paul Menard would start 8th with Carl Edwards behind him in 10th. Points leader Brad Keselowski would start the race 13 rows back in 25th. Two teams would go home, missing the race, Brian Keselowski in the 26 car and Kenny Hendrick in the 52.
When the green flag flew, it was Logano clearing the field by turn 2 as he proceeded to dominate. As the caution flag waved 10 times during the race, lead changes occurred and a total of 8 different drivers scored at least one lap lead for the 5 bonus points. Other than Reed Sorenson, who lead 49 laps and Justin Allgaier who led 20 laps, this was all Joey Logano’s race as he would end the day having led 106 of the 200 laps.
None of the other Cup drivers would lead a single lap.
This was all Joey’s race from start to finish as he dominated most of the race and when he wasn’t leading he was always threatening to. As the end of the race approached, so did more threatening weather, but the race continued and the only threat to Joey Logano was Carl Edwards. After the final caution it looked like Carl was gaining on Joey, and as Carl said after the race, “ I was gaining on him, and I really thought I was gonna be able to catch him and pass him, but as I got closer, he moved up to my line and all I could do was keep up with him.” Joey explained in a post race news interview, “ Carl was closing on me, I was asking on the radio for all the information I could get. I was running low and was told that Carl was high. Once I had that information I moved to the high line and that was all it took.”
As Joey was celebrating on the track, the media folks waited anxiously in Victory Lane as the winds began picking up and the smell and feel of the coming rain was present. Logano made it to Victory Lane and the celebrations began. But as the photo flashes lingered on for the ‘hat dance’, The rain decided not to wait out the celebration, as Victory Lane cleared quickly with everyone running for cover.
To say that Kentucky Motor Speedway is Joey Logano’s house is an easy statement to support. Since moving up to the Nascar Nationwide Series in 2008, they have visited this track 3 times. Joey Logano has started on the pole and won all three of those races, a track record.
This race was one of the Nationwide Dash4Cash races, where a $25K bonus was dangling for the winner. According to the rules of the program, only full time drivers in the series and part time drivers racing only this Nascar series are eligible. With those rules in place , only 1 driver was not eligible to win it and that was Logano. The $25K will roll over to the Nationwide race at Iowa.