By AMANDA VINCENT
Team Penske usually just fields one Ford entry in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, but on occasion, the team rolls out a second entry. Saturday’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International was one of those occasions, and Joey Logano dominated in that second entry, numbered 12, leading 67 laps of the 82 that made up the road course race, en route to the win.
“it was far from easy,” Logano said. “What a great Snap-On Ford Mustang. It was awesome for this 12 team to come together. It is a bunch of guys and girls we put together at the shop to have some fun, and we come up here to Watkins Glen, and it is a lot of fun to win at this race track.”
The win was a repeat for Logano, as he entered Saturday’s race as the defending winner of the event. It also marked Team Penske’s fourth win in the last six races at Watkins Glen. But it was the first Xfinity Series win of 2016 for Team Penske.
Logano was the only driver to turn in a double-digit laps-led tally. The next biggest number in the laps-led column came from Xfinity Series regular Daniel Suarez, who led six laps en route to a fourth-place finish. Suarez was the only series regular to finish in the top-five.
Other top-five finishes included Paul Menard in second, Kyle Larson third and Trevor Bayne fifth.
Logano started on the pole and had teammate Brad Keselowski, in the regular Penske No. 22 entry, alongside on the front row. Keselowski ran second to Logano throughout much of the race before a track bar issue in the final 10 laps.
“Brad gave me a run for my money; that is for sure,” Logano said. “He was just as fast as me, maybe faster. I never ran so many qualifying laps inside the car. I was running as hard as I possibly could, and I wasn’t sure if my car would laps running that hard, but she held together just long enough.”
Keselowski had to head for pit road and then was hit with a pit-road penalty for running through too many pit stalls.
“It looked like a bad weld broke. I don’t know what to say about that. You can’t win races in the garage,” Keselowski said. “It was good. Joey and I were both really fast, and if either one of us got in the lead it was obvious we were going to drive away. That is something to be really proud of.”
The yellow flag waved six times throughout the race, with one of the coming for a nine car pile-up on lap 18. The red flag then was displayed for just over 24 minutes for track clean-up. Kyle Busch, who has dominated Xfinity competition this season, was among the drivers involved. Busch already was having a troublesome day, dealing with splitter damage sustained near the start of the race.
The most spectacular caution-inducing incident, though, was the explosion of Derrike Cope’s No. 70 car. Cope emerged from the carnage uninjured. NASCAR impounded the car to investigate the cause of the explosion.
Suarez was the only one of the three JGR drivers to not encounter some kind of problem on Saturday. Another teammate, Erik Jones, waited too long to make a green-flag pit stop, and as a result, ran out of fuel. His stalled car was the reason for the fifth yellow flag.
Finishing sixth through 10th were Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier, Brendan Gaughan, Ryan Reed and Brennan Poole.
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