BRISTOL, Tenn. — Recap by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images photo —
That’s the only way to describe Joey Logano’s drive on Saturday afternoon during the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 from Bristol Motor Speedway.
After starting on the outside of the front row — next to 21 Means 21 polesitter Erik Jones — Logano bolted out to the lead on the opening lap of the seventh race of the 2015 season, leaving Jones and the rest of the field to settle in behind him.
No one knew that would be the last time the lead would change hands all race long.
From that opening lap, Logano laid an absolute beatdown on the rest of the field, opening the lead to as much as four seconds or more at times and leading every one of the race’s 300 laps to score his 23rd career win in NASCAR’s second-tier series.
The performance was just the 16th time in XFINITY Series history that a driver has led every lap of an event, and only the third time since 2003. The most recent occurrence was when Kyle Busch paced the field for all 250 laps at Richmond last fall.
“[It was] such a dominating car,” Logano said of his No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang. “It was fun to drive it. Really, the whole time you’re just nervous [waiting] for something to go wrong when a race goes that well. This car was on rails all day long.”
The victory was Logano’s second NXS win at Bristol, as well as his second in three starts this season.
“It’s a fun, fun thing to win here at Bristol. Anytime you can drive up on top of [the medical center] into Victory Lane here its cool. I mean, it’s Bristol. Any time you can win any event here is neat, and to get a win with a great car here is special.”
Rookie Daniel Suarez chased Logano to the finish line in the final laps, settling for second but notching his best career finish in just his ninth start for Joe Gibbs Racing in the process.
“The most important thing [today] was to not give up and to keep fighting,” Suarez said after the event. His finish was the best-ever for a Mexican-born driver in NASCAR’s second-tier division.
“At one point in that run I was thinking, ‘Man, maybe I can take it. I just started thinking about the big picture, and it looked like at one point of that run that maybe for 20 laps or after 10 laps, we were a little bit faster than him (Joey Logano).”
“Later in the run [though] we started getting a little too tight in the center, so we killed a little of the momentum off the corner, and it looked like he kept the same speed. Maybe he wasn’t [much] faster than us, but he was a little bit faster. Really, he had a lot of experience and he was able to pass traffic a little faster and with more confidence than me, and at that point he made a good gap between us.”
Chris Buescher came home third, and in the process deadlocked Ty Dillon for the championship lead. Jones ultimately finished fourth after dropping back from the top qualifying spot, Dillon rounding out the top five.
Logano’s reign was threatened only briefly by JR Motorsports veteran and fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular Kevin Harvick, but Harvick drew a pit road speeding penalty that sent him to the tail of the line at lap 175 and spent the rest of the race recovering.
Harvick ultimately took four tires during the race’s final caution on lap 280 (brought out when Jeremy Clements tagged the turn two wall) but could only charge from 13th to seventh over the final 13 lap green flag run.
In all, eight cautions slowed the pace for 48 laps, including one red flag on lap 210 when J.J. Yeley crashed in turn three and a piece of his splitter wedged itself in the SAFER Barrier.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series returns to action next week with the ToyotaCare 250 from Richmond International Raceway.