Logano Finishes 16th in Bristol Baptism
Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway is known for chewing up and spitting out drivers of all kinds -- be it young rookies or seasoned veterans.
But for 18-year-old Joey Logano, his Bristol debut in Friday night's Food City 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race proved to be a solid one as he wheeled his No. 20 GameStop/Call of Duty Toyota to a respectable 16th-place finish.
"It was a long day, that's for sure," said Logano, who in qualifying 38th crashing his primary GameStop Toyota and had to resort to his backup car for the race. "It's appropriate that we had the Call of Duty game on the GameStop car tonight, because it certainly was a war out there. We started in the back and worked on our car and started working our way to the front and finally got some decent track position. I've got to hand it to all the guys who worked hard back at the shop and here at the track to get our cars ready to race."
The 250-lap event was not without incident either. Even as Logano kept his fenders clean while working his way to within shouting distance of the top-10 after sitting in 37th-place on lap 25, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver endured a crumpled left-front fender toward the later stages of the race that necessitated a trip to pit road to pull out the left front wheel well on lap 222.
"We just got caught up in one of those Bristol messes," Logano said of the late race contact when the cars of Mike Wallace and Denny Hamlin got together right in front of him. "I don't know what happened in front of me. They started checking up and I think someone got loose in front of Denny and he checked up and I ran into the back of him. I had nowhere to go on that. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's too bad because we were in a position to get a great finish out of it."
One more Bristol bump against another car with less than 15 laps remaining caused the left-front fender to rub on the tire each time Logano dove into the track's high-banked corners. And even as tire smoke billowed from beneath the left-front fender, Logano stayed up on the wheel and completed all 250 laps.
"I think if we started up front and got the track position we needed, we probably would've had a top-five car," said Logano, who has finished outside the top-10 only three times in 10 career Nationwide Series starts. "The GameStop guys worked hard, but we just started behind the eight ball and never got back in front of it. Everyone in this organization stepped up this week, and I'm proud how this whole team came in here wanting to win more than ever."
Logano's 16th-place effort kept the No. 20 car first in the Nationwide Series owner standings after 26 of 35 races, with a 103-point lead over the team's nearest pursuer -- the No. 2 entry of Richard Childress Racing.
There were five caution periods for 26 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the race.
Brad Keselowski won the Food City 250 to score his second career Nationwide Series victory and his first at Bristol, while also climbing to within 122 points of championship point leader Clint Bowyer. Finishing 1.025 seconds behind Keselowski was Bowyer, who after leading a race-high 121 laps, had a late-race bobble that allowed Keselowoski to take the lead and go on to the win. Greg Biffle, Cale Gale and David Stremme secured the rest of the top-five. Scott Wimmer, Logano's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, David Reutimann, Brian Vickers and Steve Wallace comprised the remainder of the top-10.
The next event on the Nationwide Series schedule is the Aug. 30 Camping World RV Service 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. The race starts at 10 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN2 beginning with its pre-race show at 9:30 p.m. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.