SPARTA, Ky. — Joey Logano became the first Nationwide Series driver to win three consecutive races at the same track when starting from the pole as he held off Carl Edwards to win the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night.
“This probably feels better than any other win I’ve ever had,” Logano said after his seventh career series win. “It’s cool for Kentucky. I would’ve never thought 2-for-2, now it’s 3-for-3, I’m pretty stoked about that.”
Logano had to beat the rain, which was rapidly moving into the area, and Edwards to pick up his first Nationwide victory of the season at the 1.5-mile tri-oval track.
“I used to come here about once every three weeks when we were testing, I probably ran a million laps here,” Logano said. “I said, ‘Man if I ever get to race here I’ll be pretty good.’ I guess hard work pays off.”
Points leader Brad Keselowski, who started 25th, finished third, while Brendan Gaughan, whom Logano passed to take the lead for the final time, finished fourth. Reed Sorenson rounded out the top five.
Logano, who led 106 of the 200 laps, and Sorenson, who led 49, dominated the first half of the race. Cautions and the threat of rain dominated the last half. There were four yellow flags in the first 133 laps, but six over the final 67.
Mill Creek native Tayler Malsam’s night was cut short by an accident and he finished 35th.
“It was just a rookie mistake. The guys gave me a great race car tonight and I can’t apologize enough,” said Malsam. “They worked hard all weekend and its unfortunate it had to end the way it did. But we will turn it around and go out and get it next week for Braun Racing.”
Edwards, who didn’t practice here Friday and qualified 10th earlier Saturday, made the biggest push late. He got on Logano’s rear bumper with nine laps to go, but could never get closer.
“My car was pretty good so I didn’t know how he was catching me,” Logano said. “He was moving a little higher, so I moved up and forced him to go to the bottom a little bit.”
Edwards finished second for the second straight week after coming in behind Keselowski at last week’s race at Nashville. Edwards had problems with his right rear tire early in the race and dropped as low as 31st before rallying.
“I thought we were going to get him,” Edwards said. “He just did a really good job of driving smart. His car was just a little bit faster.”
Keselowski has a 272-point lead over Edwards in the driver standings, while Justin Allgaier leap-frogged Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick — who didn’t run here — into third place in the standings. Busch and Harvick dropped to fourth and fifth, respectively, in the driver standings while Paul Menard, who finished 32nd due to an accident, remained in sixth and Logano seventh.
With his sixth-place finish Saturday night, Steve Wallace climbed one place to eighth in the driver standings, while Gaughan moved up to ninth. Jason Leffler, who finished 33rd because of an accident, dropped two places to 10th.
Hamilton secures pole
MONTREAL — McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton won his third straight Canadian Grand Prix pole Saturday, snapping Red Bull’s season-opening streak at seven.
Hamilton, coming off a victory two weeks ago in Turkey, took the top spot on his final lap in the third round of qualifying, edging Red Bull’s Mark Webber with a time of 1 minute, 15.105 seconds at 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
“I think it’s fantastic for the team,” said Hamilton, the 2007 winner in Montreal. “I’m really proud of my guys. I damaged the car a little bit in practice and they fixed it in no time — seriously professional.”
Webber, the Formula 1 season points leader and a four-time pole winner this year, was second — 0.268 seconds back. Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel qualified third.
Hamilton used Bridgestone’s super-soft compound tires in the 10-car qualifying finale, while Webber and Vettel went out on the more durable medium compound. The top 10 drivers have to start today’s race on the tires they used in the last session.
“It’s fairly interesting to see the two different strategies and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out tomorrow,” said Hamilton, the 25-year-old British star who won the 2008 season title. “I think both tires are very, very close.”
Almirola posts truck win
BROOKLYN, Mich. — Aric Almirola’s enjoyed his first win in the NASCAR Truck Series at Dover last month, yet he freely admits it was decidedly lacking in style points.
He’ll have no such worries about his second.
Almirola gambled to take the lead with seven laps to go then held off Todd Bodine and Kyle Busch to win Saturday’s race at Michigan International Speedway.
“This weekend we did it fair and square,” Almirola said. “I raced my butt off with those guys.”
He didn’t really have a choice during a mad dash to the finish in which he somehow kept Bodine, the series points leader, and Busch, possibly the most talented driver in NASCAR, at bay.
The victory pulled Almirola within 55 of Bodine in the points race, yet he wasn’t interested in talking about a championship. He was too busy savoring a hard-fought win that featured plenty of three-wide racing at the 2-mile oval.
Almirola celebrated with a well-deserved burnout after beating Bodine by about a truck length at the finish, a decidedly giddier celebration than the one he had at Dover.
McClenathan top qualifier
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. — Cory McClenathan secured his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season Saturday when his quickest-ever pass in NHRA history a day earlier wasn’t threatened as qualifying concluded at the 41st annual NHRA Supernationals.
There were no changes in any of the other three categories either as Robert Hight (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Michael Phillips (Pro Stock Motorcycle) remained on top of their respective qualifying categories at the 11th of 23 races in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
McClenathan’s 3.752-second pass at 324.75 mph from Friday night was the quickest and second-fastest run in since NHRA moved to 1,000-foot racing two years ago. It was the 37th No. 1 of his career.
Hight (4.025, 313.00) got his third straight No. 1, fifth of 2010, and the 37th of his career in just his 127th race. Hight has been to four straight final rounds — winning three times — to take the points lead from John Force, who’d led the Funny Car standings the first nine races.
In Pro Stock, defending NHRA Full Throttle Series champion Edwards (6.513, 211.49) set both ends of the Old Bridge Township Raceway Park track record to record his NHRA-leading ninth No. 1 this season.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Michael Phillips’ track records of 6.855, 197.16 held up to give him his first career No. 1 qualifier in his 160th career race.
Final eliminations begin today at 8 a.m.
Peugeot leads at Le Mans
LE MANS, France — Peugeot was still leading at the 24 Hours of Le Mans after nine hours on Saturday despite losing one of its cars and reliability concerns.
After dominating the qualifying to monopolize the four top spots on the starting grid, the French manufacturer’s cars looked set to secure a second straight victory at the showcase event.
But the Peugeot 908 HDI of former Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais, which had started from the pole, retired because of suspension damage after less than three hours.
The Peugeot driven by Marc Gene, Alexander Wurz and Anthony Davidson then had to pit for 12 minutes with electric problems and subsequently dropped from first to seventh place.
Gene, however, started a phenomenal comeback and moved back to fifth after posting the race’s best lap in 3 minutes, 19.644 seconds just before midnight.
“Now I’m gonna drive every single lap like in qualifying,” Davidson said.