Joey Logano was enjoying such a perfect day at Bristol Motor Speedway that the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford kept expecting something to go wrong.
It never did.
Logano led all 300 laps of Saturday’s Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 at the .533-mile short track, a record for laps led in a NASCAR XFINITY Series race. It was the first time a driver led every lap in a single race since Kyle Busch accomplished the feat in winning the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond on Sept. 5, 2014.
The victory was Logano’s second of the season, his second at Bristol (and his second straight dating back to his last start at Thunder Valley in 2012) and the 23rd of his career.
“I’ve never led every single lap in a race before—what a fast Discount Tire Ford!” Logano said in Victory Lane. “Gosh, that’s amazing. You’re waiting for something to go wrong. It’s such a fast car, and with late cautions and all that stuff, you’re like ‘All right, where am I going to blow this thing?’
“Those are the ones you’re just nervous throughout the whole race—but what a fast car. (Crew chief) Greg Erwin and all this team here … it was a perfect day. I can’t ask for any more out of them.”
A caution for Jeremy Clements’ contact with the turn two wall brought out the eighth and last caution of the race on lap 280, but after a restart on lap 288, Logano pulled away to beat rookie Daniel Suarez to the finish line by 1.172 seconds.
Suarez notched the best finish of his Xfinity Series career. Chris Buescher ran third, followed by polesitter Erik Jones and Ty Dillon. Buescher and Dillon are even for the series lead, 12 points ahead of reigning series champion and sixth-place finisher Chase Elliott in third.
Early in the race, Kevin Harvick posed the only realistic threat to Logano’s supremacy, but a pit road speeding penalty under caution on lap 175 sent Harvick to the rear of the field, and the driver of the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet never recovered.
Even after stopping for fresh tires under the last caution, Harvick was unable to make up ground. He restarted seventh with 13 laps left and finished seventh, providing plenty of food for thought for NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chiefs who are preparing to make tire calls in Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes .
During the 66-lap green-flag run that preceded the last caution, Suarez took over second place from Jones and began to gain on Logano. But the handling of Logano’s car gave him an edge in traffic and he was able to keep Suarez comfortably behind him.
“At one point in that run I was thinking, ‘Man, maybe I can take it,’” said Suarez, whose finish was the highest ever by a Mexican-born driver in the XFINITY Series. “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 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 super 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.”