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NASCAR: Logano calls first 500 win ‘better than Disney World’

“The Daytona 500. Oh my God. Are you kidding me?” Logano said after the race. “Unbelievable.”
Logano knew he was in for a tough battle as officials prepared to restart the race after a late wreck that parked cars for six minutes. Three laps to go. There would be a green-white-checker finish to the 2015 Daytona 500. Two laps to go. Logano led the field around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway. One lap to go. Logano knew all he would have to do was hold off a few cars, among them 2014 series champion Kevin Harvick, who say in second place, and defending race champion Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“Once you get over the fact that you’re about to throw up, you start figuring out how to win the race,” Logano said. “The caution comes out. You think about strategy. You know we’re staying out, want to save some fuel in case of multiple green-white-checkereds. We were able to execute the plan basically after that. Stared in the mirror. Tried to bring her home.”
Logano was out in front entering the back stretch with a half a lap to go. He keeps glancing at the rear-view mirror. There is an incident behind him.
“(I) Saw them crashing. You hope there is a caution,” he said.
Race officials watch carefully—wanting the Daytona 500 to finish under green-flag racing—but there are too many cars involved and the yellow flag comes out as the lead cars round the final two corners. Logano can cruise home. He said it takes a moment to sink in.
“Man, you have a split second after the caution came out. Did we win? Then, straight chaos after that,” he said. “I can’t explain how cool this is. It feels just like the way you dream it. This is better than Disney World.”
There was no consolation in finishing third for Earnhardt Jr. The winner of last year’s Daytona 500 said he felt he had the fastest car on the day and admitted the race the race was his to lose, which he said he did on a restart with 19 laps to go.
“Good cars like that don’t come every week and you like to take advantage of those and when you are put in a car like that, you’ve got to deliver and we fell a little short today,” an obviously disappointed Earnhardt said after the race. “I had one of the best cars out there. It’s really disappointing. I’m just really disappointed that I didn’t do everything I needed to do.”
Earnhardt broke down the events as the race went back to green-flag racing after a caution period late in the race. As drivers prepared themselves for a final charge. Earnhardt recalled how Jimmie Johnson was sitting just behind him and he knew the 2013 Daytona 500 winner would get by on the restart.
“I thought if I could get in behind him, he was going to shoot past to the lead, I could tuck on the quarter panel a little bit,” Earnhardt said. “Just one of those moves. You make some good ones. You make some bad ones. I made a bad one too late. Just got too cute there.”
Johnson, who had also won The Great American Race in 2006, finished fifth on Sunday.
“With 10 to go, I thought we were going to win the Daytona 500,” he said. “But with plate racing, you have no clue what’s going to happen.”
Immediately after the race, Logano said he was pretty much in shock.
“I was so nervous pretty much the whole race,” Logano said, whose previous best Daytona 500 finish was ninth, in 2012. “This is my weakest race track, the super speedways, and we worked do hard at them. I couldn’t be more proud. We worked so hard in the off season. I couldn’t be more proud.”
There is not much time to enjoy the moment. The second race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, goes Mar. 1 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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