The Frontstretch: Nextel All-Star Challenge Winner Bested By 16-Year-Old In Iowa by Jeff Meyer -- Sunday May 20, 2007

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After conquering the best Nextel Cup had to offer in Charlotte on Saturday night, Kevin Harvick and his boss Richard Childress looked to do the same in the Midwest, bringing their RCR might to the cornfields with the hopes of dominating Sunday's Featherlite Coaches 200 at the new Iowa Speedway. A combined race for the Grand National East and West series, the first NASCAR-sanctioned event at the 7/8-mile trioval looked to be Harvick’s to lose.

Turns out he did just that.

Although Harvick, who was operating on just a few hours of sleep since his Saturday night payday, had never even been to the new Rusty Wallace designed speedway, he quickly figured out the track and grabbed the pole with a lap of 23.547 seconds. However, Harvick’s main competition wasn’t far behind; starting on the outside pole was the 16-year-old Joe Gibbs racing phenom, Joey Logano, clocking in with a shade slower speed of 23.586 seconds.

Harvick and Logano ran in the front most of the day, swapping the lead several times and sometimes during the same lap in what turned out to be an exciting race. The only others to lead in the race were Justin Lofton and Mike Duncan, as the youngster and the veteran had at it on the Iowa trioval. In the end, there was a surprise taking the checkered flag; it was Logano, not Harvick, who ended up in front of the pack.

"We were running on seven cylinders from about lap 20 on," Harvick explained as he talked about his second place finish. "But, that's a tribute to this track. Despite the problems, we were still able to compete. Logano raced me real clean. He did a good job knowing we had problems and letting us race.”

"It was a tough one for me to win," said Logano. "I thought he (Harvick) was just messing with me early before his crew told my spotter what was going on."

In the end, the 16-year-old Logano pulled away from Harvick for a 2.4 second margin of victory after the veteran’s engine went south.

"This was definitely the biggest win of my career," said Logano. "It was just great to be able to race back and forth with Kevin and it was neat to be able to beat him. We ran hard, but clean. I think we only bumped once."

Logano has now won three of the first four Busch East Division Grand National races held so far in 2007 as he continues to build on a rapidly growing list of accomplishments for his age.

Iowa Speedway Notes:

Also racing in today's event was the grandson of the great Dale Earnhardt, Sr., seventeen-year-old Jeffrey Earnhardt. However, Earnhardt the younger didn’t have much to write home about; he started in 32nd spot and finished 18th in a D.E.I.-built Chevrolet.

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Denny
05/21/2007 12:00 PM
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This Logano fellow…he’s the real thing….

I met Joey and him family at Jennerstown Speedway when Joey was running the USAR Pro Cup series. As I recall, Joey did not win that night, but finished second. His driving style put me to mind of a driver much older and more experienced. He, his mother, his crew were very gracious to us that evening, and I’ve never forgotten their act of kindness. I told my grandaughter this is a guy to watch. Sure enough, he IS the real thing. Joe Gibbs has found a driver for the future. I suggest that the viewer of NASCAR watch this young man, as you will see him in Busch Grand National or ARCA very soon, where he will, again, make a very big impression. You can expect to see him in NEXTEL cup. He’s a driver of the future!!

 

Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

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