Joey Logano qualified ninth for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was a career-best qualifying effort for Logano at the 1.5-mile facility.
When Logano woke up Saturday morning, the 22-year-old found himself extremely ill. As a result, Logano missed both of Saturday’s practice sessions and was not able to fine tune his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota. Instead, Michael McDowell filled in for Logano during the two hours’ worth of practice.
After spending much of Saturday in the Atlanta Motor Speedway care center and getting a good night’s sleep, Logano deemed himself ready for Sunday’s grueling 325-lap/500-mile race. McDowell was once again in attendance to standby as a relief driver for Logano should be need to get out of the car.
When the green flag flew, Logano spent the early laps of the race getting reacclimated to his No. 20 Toyota. It took just 40 laps and Logano was running back in the top-10 and picking off car after car.
Logano ran as high as seventh at one point while battling a car that was tight early yet getting looser as the day turned into night. Despite still not feeling well, Logano continued to drive through the pain and discomfort.
Things were looking good for Logano, who was working with crew chief Jason Ratcliff in making changes, until lap 147 when the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota suffered a right front flat under green flag conditions. The team brought the car down pit road, but Logano lost nearly two laps in the process.
The rest of the evening, Logano was off on his pit stop sequence and was praying for a timely caution flag. Despite being two laps down, through cautions flags wave arounds and pit strategy, Logano was able to get his car back on the lead lap by the end of the night.
Despite all of the troubles and despite still not feeling well, Logano somehow managed to complete all 500 miles and came home with a respectable 18th-place finish. The finish kept Logano 18th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.
Logano’s Post-Race Thoughts: “Man that was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. This is not really how I had hoped this weekend would pan out, but things started going downhill right away on Saturday morning. We had a great qualifying effort on Friday and I thought things were looking up. Then, Saturday morning I woke up and was just really sick.
I spent most of the day either sleeping in my motorhome or getting IVs at the infield care center. That really put us behind because I wasn’t able to go out there and help the team get the car dialed in on Saturday. I have to thank Michael McDowell though. He did a great job stepping in and getting our Home Depot Toyota even better in Saturday’s practices and had me a good car for the race.
I thought I could make it through the race but it ended up being a lot tougher than it was. It’s just too bad we ran into some of those problems. Our car was good; it wasn’t great. I think without the flat tire under green, we might have been able to finish in the back half of the top 10 or just outside of the top-10. Unfortunately, with that flat tire, we just found ourselves fighting from behind.
We finally got back on the lead lap late there, but by then there is nothing you can do with the car and you just need to try and get the most out of it.
It was one of the toughest weekend’s I’ve ever been a part of. I have to thank a lot of people though, from all of my crew guys who never stopped working on the car to Michael for stepping in for me and being on call to all of the medical staff there at the track and with NASCAR. They did a great job taking care of me on Saturday and without them, I wouldn’t have been able to make it through that race. They did a great job and I can’t thank everyone who helped out this weekend enough.”
Source: Joe Gibbs