By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Passing Kevin Harvick for the lead on Lap 216 of 250, Joey Logano held on to win Friday night's Food City 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, notching his series-best sixth victory of the season.
Logano, who posted his 15th career win and his first at the .533-mile short track, outran runner-up Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and crossed the finish line .503 seconds ahead of the defending series champion.
Kyle Busch ran third, followed by Austin Dillon and Nationwide points leader Elliott Sadler, who was pushed aside by Stenhouse after a restart on Lap 249 and lost three positions over the final two laps.
"It's about time," said Logano. "I think we've led the most laps in this race about three or four times, and we've never been here in Victory Lane. This is one of the coolest race tracks you can win at. It means a lot to be up here."
Logano, who led a race-high 81 laps, had no issues once he made the decisive pass. The drama happened behind him, between Stenhouse and Sadler.
Those two protagonists battled for the championship last year, with Stenhouse prevailing, but Friday's incident may change the tenor of the campaign this season. Sadler leaves Bristol with a 19-point lead over second-place Stenhouse.
"I feel bad getting into Elliott -- that's not what you want to do racing for a championship," said Stenhouse, who conceded he could have given Sadler more room.
To Sadler, however, the contact was a game-changer.
"He said he didn't mean to hit us," Sadler said, "I told him I'd always been careful around him last year and this year, because we've always raced each other with a lot of respect. I'm glad he didn't wreck us. He pushed us out of the way, but it could have been ugly -- not the finish we deserved tonight.
"He just opened it up to where we can race each other a lot differently the last 10 races."
Harvick took the lead for the first time on Lap 118 with a two-tire stop under the sixth caution, for Fain Skinner's spin off Turn 2. On left-side tires that were mounted on his Chevrolet on Lap 47, Harvick kept Logano in his mirror until Benny Gordon's spin in Turn 4 on Lap 171 caused the seventh yellow.
Logano, on fresher rubber, harried Harvick after the ensuing restart on Lap 181, but it took Logano 35 more laps to make the winning pass. Ultimately, Logano used the lapped car of Jeremy Clements as a pick, trapped Harvick to the outside and sailed past in the low groove.
When John Wes Townley's Toyota slammed into the Turn 4 wall on Lap 225, Harvick had to give up the second position and pit for fuel, dropping the No. 33 from contention.
With eight laps left, Dillon's Chevrolet collided with the Ford of pole-sitter Trevor Bayne, causing the ninth and final caution of the race. That set up the two-lap dash to the finish, with Logano clearing Sadler through the first two corners.
Despite a penalty for speeding while exiting pit road under caution on Lap 175, Danica Patrick worked her way up to a ninth-place from the 34th starting position.