Joey Logano won in Avondale, Ariz., and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. moved a step closer toward successfully defending his NASCAR Nationwide Series championship with a third-place finish.
AVONDALE, Ariz. — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. moved a step closer toward successfully defending his NASCAR Nationwide Series championship with a strong run Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway.
Joey Logano won the Great Clips 200, beating runner-up Brian Vickers by 0.668 seconds. Stenhouse finished third.
Stenhouse and Elliott Sadler entered the race tied for the season points lead, but Sadler had a tough day and finished 22nd. Thus Stenhouse has a 20-point lead entering next weekend’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.
Sadler started from the rear because he hit a wall in time trials and went to a backup car. He triggered a three-car wreck on the last scheduled lap of the race.
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“I did it to myself,” Sadler said. “I put my team in a hole, qualifying like I did.”
Sadler, who said the wreck was “100 percent my fault,” apologized to his team.
“It’s been a long, great season and my guys deserve better effort from me than wrecking the car on the last lap,” he said.
If Stenhouse finishes 16th or better at Homestead-Miami, he is guaranteed of another title.
Logano, who started from the pole, won for the ninth time in 21 starts this season.
Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw finished fifth of 43; Derrike Cope of Spanaway was 24th.
Danica Patrick placed 10th, her fourth top-10 finish in 32 starts this year. Sources said she won’t drive in next year’s Indianapolis 500.