Impressive Season Rolls On: Logano Wins First Charlotte NNS Race
Joey Logano qualified the No. 20 GameStop Toyota in the third position for Friday evening’s NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Dollar General 300.
Early in the event, the theme of the race for the No. 20 team was restarts. Each early restart, Logano had to start from the bottom lane and would lose momentum and spots to those up top. Logano fell back to sixth early because of the restart issues.
On lap 55, Logano took the lead for the very first time during a round of green-flag stops. He gave up the lead just a few laps later when he came to for his first pit stop of the night, getting four tires, fuel and making a wedge adjustment for a car that was too tight.
As green flag stops cycled out, Logano was running third and the No. 20 GameStop Toyota was the fastest car on the track.
Logano and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, driving the No. 18 Toyota, traded the lead back and forth just prior to halfway as several of the leaders raced side-by-side.
Following their final full pit stop of the night on lap 133, the No. 20 team showed once again why they are the best in the business as Logano came in third and left the pits first. With a few adjustments, Logano would go on to lead the next 20 laps.
It was evident the race was coming down to fuel mileage. Logano briefly fell back to second and then took the lead again from Kevin Harvick on lap 162. Crew chief Adam Stevens told Logano to build as big of a lead as possible on the track as everyone would need to come in for a splash of fuel.
On lap 186, Logano brought the No. 20 to pit road for two tires and a splash of gas. As Logano reentered the race, a number of other drivers began to peel off pit road for their final fuel stops.
Logano was able to work his way past Brad Keselowski, who had made up ground by taking fuel only, and took the lead for the final time when his other JGR teammate, Brian Scott, peeled onto pit road for his final fuel stop on lap 193. Over the race’s final few laps, Logano pulled out to a commanding 2.76-second lead to pick up the victory.
The victory was Logano’s first in nine-career NASCAR Nationwide Series starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway. His previous best finish was third.
The win was Logano’s eighth victory of the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series season and his second straight dating back to Dover just a couple of weeks ago. Those eight wins have come in just 18 starts, which results in an amazing 44-percent winning percentage.
Logano led the field on six different occasions for 62 laps, more than any other driver in both categories.
The win was Logano’s 17th-career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory. Logano now moves into sole possession of 16th on the all-time NASCAR Nationwide Series wins list.
The win was crew chief Adam Stevens’ 10th-career Nationwide Series victory since becoming a crew chief at the start of the 2011 season. Nine of Steven’s 10 wins have come with Logano behind the wheel (the other being Denny Hamlin).
Logano’s Post-Race Thoughts: “I have to give the credit for tonight’s win to Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and all of the guys on this No. 20 GameStop Toyota team. This car was just outstanding. This is our favorite car and it’s already won three or four races this year. They just build great stuff and put a lot of time and energy into these cars at the shop. Then, when we get to the track, I have the best group in the garage and Adam leads the charge. He makes the right adjustments in practice and the right calls on pit stops and the pit crew is fast and always gains us a few extra positions. I just go out there and drive the car. So I have to give the credit for this race to all of those guys.
“I fell like this is one of those races that has always slipped through my fingers. Everyone wants to win here at Charlotte and everyone wants to win the night race. There is just something about winning here and doing it at night. And add to that that it’s Charlotte and you have all kinds of guys from the shop, their families with them and a lot of guests and that makes winning here a pretty big deal. This is one of my favorite tracks and I’ve always loved running here, but to finally get a win is pretty sweet. And having GameStop and Call of Duty: Black Ops II on the car made it even sweeter. That is probably one of the coolest looking cars I’ve ever run and to get to celebrate with Jill (Lain, GameStop Racing Manager) and the rest of their crew is awesome.
“We really had to work for this one tonight. Early in the race, we didn’t have the best car. But Adam kept adjusting and kept adjusting on it and making it better. In the mid-portion of the race, we were a lot better but Brad (Keselowski) had gotten his car better too. At that point, we were a second-place car. Then, I just had to starting moving my line around to find something that would work for my car and I did. I didn't have an option -- I was getting beat and I knew I had to find something. I moved to the top and I was like, 'Hey, there's something here.' I just kind of had to adjust my style a little bit and get this little 20 car rocking and get these guys in victory lane one more time. I just can’t believe we have won eight of these things this year. That is pretty amazing.”
Source: Joe Gibbs Racing