By The Associated Press
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Joey Logano used a last-lap push from teammate Kyle Busch to win the Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway.
Logano, coming off a breakthrough weekend on the road course at Sonoma, was the unlikely winner Friday night after Danica Patrick flirted several times with the victory. She had help at various times from Tony Stewart, and was paired in the closing laps with JR Motorsports teammate Aric Almirola.
Stewart at that point had hooked up with Elliott Sadler and was committed to pushing his Kevin Harvick Inc. teammate to the win.
The Sadler-Stewart pairing took the lead from the Patrick-Almirola tandem, and Patrick had to weave her way back to mount another pass. Then Logano-Busch charged to the front on the final lap, leaving all the other contenders stuck in a tight pack of traffic.
As Logano closed in on the finish line, Mike Wallace squeezed Patrick against the wall, she bounced back into the pack and an eight-car accident marred the finish. Sadler and Stewart were also in the wreck, and Almirola had to climb from a car engulfed in flames.
“It just looks like a bit of a cluster,” Patrick said. “I kept my foot in it, which might not be the best thing here, but I was going for broke. I learned a lot, that’s for sure.”
It was Logano’s first win at Daytona, and ninth of his Nationwide career.
“It’s nice to be on the other side of the fence, usually I’m the guy in second,” Logano said.
Jason Leffler finished second and Reed Sorenson was third to win a $100,000 bonus as the highest finishing eligible driver in sponsor Nationwide’s first Dash 4 Cash race. Nationwide is paying out a guaranteed $400,000 over four races to one of four eligible series regulars as a way to promote NASCAR’s second tier series.
Winning the bonus capped a strong week for series points leader Sorenson, who earned his first victory of the season last Saturday at Road America.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., from Olive Branch, started 12th and was running in the top 10 late in the race but faded to 27th. He led twice for a total of five laps.