Dover Three-Peat for Logano
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on June 1, 2013 | 4:39 P.M. EST
It was Logano’s first win for car owner Roger Penske. (Photo: Getty Images)
DOVER, Del. - Crew chief Jeremy Bullins gave Joey Logano the opportunity he had awaited.
Bullins’ last-moment pit call to change two tires instead of four helped Logano win Saturday’s 5-Hour Energy 200 at Dover International Speedway. It was Logano’s first win for car owner Roger Penske.
“A huge of list of great race car drivers that have won for Roger Penske and it’s cool to have my name on that list, too,’’ Logano said after his third consecutive Dover Nationwide win.
Logano might not have won without Bullins’ decision.
A caution with 38 laps left jumbled the standings. Kyle Busch led but made the decision to have his team change four tires. Kasey Kahne was second but had changed only two tires on his last stop, so he had to change four tires. Others, though, saw Kahne stay near the front with two tires and knowing how critical track position was, made a similar car.
Logano was pitted near the exit of pit road. Bullins focused on what others were doing on pit road that he didn’t count down the pit stalls on the radio for Logano to his box. Logano admitted he didn’t know if his crew would change two or four tires when he stopped.
“I’ll wait until they say something,’’ Logano said later. “I figured they would tell me.’’
Bullins saw other cars coming down pit road after taking two tires. As soon as he saw Busch’s crew sprint around the car to change four tires, he called for two tires.
The jack dropped, Logano sped away in the lead.
He held it the final 37 laps to win.
Brian Vickers placed a season-best second.
“We were almost there,’’ he said. “I think pleased but not satisfied is probably the best way to describe it.’’
Matt Kenseth came back from stalling his car on pit road earlier in the race to take third.
“When they dropped the jack I wasn’t ready for it and ... killed it,’’ Kenseth said. “We didn’t have enough time to make up the spots.’’
Trevor Bayne placed fourth with Busch, who led a race-high 72 laps, finishing fifth.
Busch knew his chances were slim as he prepared for the restart after that final pit stop. The top nine cars off pit road took two tires. Busch restarted 10th, the first car with four fresh tires.
“This is going to make for a pay day,’’ Busch said on the radio. “Oh boy.’’
Although he went three-wide on the restart, he couldn’t gain many positions immediately and overcome his deficit.
Kahne finished sixth with Sam Hornish Jr. seventh. Austin Dillon placed eighth with Regan Smith and rookie Kyle Larson completing the top 10. It was Larson’s third consecutive top-10 finish.
Larson said the race, run in near-90 degree, might have been the hottest conditions he’s driven.
Smith remains the points leader heading into next weekend’s race at Iowa Speedway. Smith leads Hornish by 27 points after Hornish gained two points Saturday.