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Nationwide title contenders still logjammed

Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012

Two things have become clear as the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series winds to a close.

First, Joey Logano is a threat to win every race he enters.

And second, Elliott Sadler, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Austin Dillon – the three serious contenders for this year’s championship – can’t seem to put any distance between them.

Both held true to form in Friday night’s Dollar General 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, as Logano held off Kevin Harvick to win his eighth series race of the year in 18 starts.

“I wouldn’t trade a win for anything – no matter what,” Logano said when asked if he wished he was running for the series championship. “I am still able to go out there when I run the No. 18 car and try to win the owner’s championship, which I think we are still leading after this race.

“I wouldn’t trade a win to be able to run for points. It’s all about wins to me.”

It’s all about points for Sadler, Stenhouse and Dillon.

Sadler finished third in the race, which allowed him to increase his lead in the series standings to 13 over Stenhouse, who finished seventh in the race.

Dillon finished sixth and remains 29 points behind Sadler. The next closest driver is Sam Hornish, who is fourth, 93 points behind Sadler.

Unless one of them experiences a problem, the three title contenders generally are racing in close proximity to each other.

“If you look at the stats of all three of us, Austin has the best average finish of all of us on the mile-and-a-halfs,” Sadler said. “Ricky has won a couple of his races this year on mile-and-a-halfs. And I think we’ve been consistent on mile-and-a-halfs.

“So all three of us run good at this style of race track. I don’t see one of us dominating the other two guys.”

Four races remain in the season and three of them – Kansas, Texas and Homestead – take place on 1.5-mile tracks.

Sadler said every time he looked at the infield scoring pylon during Friday night’s race, he noticed the car numbers of Stenhouse and Dillon around him.

“I think that’s how it’s going to be because we’ve both got really good race cars and really good equipment,” Sadler said. “I think we’re all going to be pretty close. That means you’d better have your mess together and run in the top four or five or you’re going to lose points to the other two guys.”

Kyle Busch finished fourth in the race and Denny Hamlin was fifth.

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