Camry driver Joey Logano drove his No. 18 Dollar General Toyota Camry to victory lane in Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Logano led the field three times for 81 laps (of 250).
This is Logano's first career Bristol triumph, his sixth NNS win of 2012 and the 15th NNS victory of his career. It marks the seventh win for Toyota in 2012 and the 71st NNS win since joining the series in 2007. Camry drivers Kyle Busch (third) also earned a top-five result at Bristol.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included Joe Nemechek (11th), Tayler Malsam (12th), Mike Bliss (13th), Benny Gordon (22nd), John Wes Townley (23rd), Eric McClure (27th), Brian Scott (34th) and Jeff Green (42nd).
Joye Logano, No. 18 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing. Finishing Position: 1st
How does it feel to win at Bristol? "It was definitely really cool coming here -- I think we've led the most laps in this race several times. I always fell a little short or something went wrong and it's cool to finally be in victory lane here. This is one of the coolest race tracks to win at -- I think there's three or four that are extra special to win at and this is one of them. Cool to be upstairs in victory lane -- that was really neat.
Throughout our day, I thought we were okay in practice, but I didn't think we were as good as what we were in the past here and we really struggled with our Dollar General Camry a little bit. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) made some good changes I guess or some magic happened -- I don't know what happened. When the race started, it drove completely different and drove a lot better like my cars have here in the past. At that point, I thought we were going to be okay here.
Had some different strategy and that worked out for us -- I was a little nervous at first, but that worked out good. I was able to pass cars by using lapped traffic a lot. Those late race cautions -- you almost have to bank on them and our car wasn't the greatest the first 15 laps. We were okay, we could hang, but we weren't as fast as we were late in the run.
Once everyone wore out their tires some, that's when our car was the fastest and was able to move through the field pretty quick. Had a lot of fun with that, passed a lot of cars and you don't get a stellar car all the time -- I do a lot with Adam though. It's cool to get number six and get on the second hand."
What were you thinking when your crew chief called you in to the pits early in the race? "That's why I don't crew chief -- I get paid to drive the car and it's a good thing Adam (Stevens, crew chief) gets paid to do what he does. I came in and I saw no one else and I was like, 'Uh oh, we screwed up here.' We were able to have a good enough car to pass a couple back and then the strategy worked out the way it needed to and here we are. I had a lot of fun. I think we restarted fifth or sixth that one time and was able to work the lapped traffic really good."
How difficult was it to pass tonight? "It's super, super hard to pass. I had a good enough car that I could run the top and the bottom pretty well. I was pretty good in (turns) one and two so I was able to get underneath them there, but then I really couldn't do much in (turns) three and four and they would beat me through that corner if I was on the bottom. I tried to position myself to setup lapped cars.
I was looking far enough ahead to see where they were running -- if they were on the top or the bottom and then I would adjust my line to that. Hopefully, put the guy in front of me in a bad spot that he had to let me go to get through the situation. That was the only way I passed any car tonight. I didn't pass one other car without another car helping me."
What has it been like to win as much as you have this season? "I feel like on the Nationwide side, Adam's (Stevens, crew chief) done a great job and I feel like our communication is amazing. I feel like we sit down Mondays or Tuesdays -- whenever I come in the shop and we'll sit down and he's got a bunch of questions for me and we just run through them. We're able to really dig down and find the little things to help improve our cars for the next time we come back to a track or help our cars improve in general.
That's pretty neat -- it's cool to be able to do that considering I'm running most of the Nationwide races over there and help grow that program - - that's pretty cool to be involved with that. It's definitely a good time and Adam is doing a great job. Our communication is there, I feel like our cars are better than they were last year and the results are there now. We're consistently a car to beat at really any track.
That's exciting. On the Cup side, we're getting closer and closer -- Jason (Ratcliff, Cup crew chief) is doing a good job over there and we got our win at Pocono. No secret we need to win again to get in the Chase and I feel like I have a decent car -- I feel like I had a car that could get the pole today if it didn't get rained out. We're still starting fourth tomorrow -- that's really good. Starting on the outside too -- that will be a plus. We'll just have to wait and see what happens."
Kyle Buch, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry, Kyle Busch Motorsports. Finishing Position: 3rd
How was your car today? "It was a real good night for the Monster Energy Camry. All these guys -- they worked hard, they did a good job and we missed a little bit of something tonight -- kind of like last year. It seemed like the more we'd go, we would really lose rear traction. That seemed to be our struggle point tonight. Overall, the guys did a good job and can't say enough about how we ran -- we came home third. We'll take that -- we probably shouldn't have been that good, but I wish we were better."
What did you think of the race track tonight? "I think they made it worse. The bottom groove now -- the top was so much longer around before that you could actually make the bottom do something for you. Now the top is closer and those guys are making that middle we call it fast and it's just too hard to make ground on the bottom. You really have to pinch it tight up off the corners so you use a lot of steering wheel and you can't put the power down to exit off the corner and you spin the tires. I'm not a fan."
Did you learn anything to help in tomorrow night's Sprint Cup race? "No, it's definitely hard to pass out there. I predict that will be kind of the same way tomorrow night. I think we all see it on the restarts that everybody is fighting for the top just trying to boot everybody out of the way to get up there and get in a single file line. It's frustrating. It's certainly not what we all want to see around here.
I felt like before there was a bottom and there was a way top and you could even use the middle and you could work a lot around through there. Right now, they brought the top closer to the bottom so it actually hurts the bottom worse because you don't have room to move up off the corners and get into the corners and all that stuff. You're actually to the mercy of the guy on your outside. I'm glad they conferred with all the drivers."
How was your race? "All in all we had ourselves a good weekend up until the last 50 laps of the race. We ended up getting the fence a little bit and we blew a tire and got in the wall. All in all we finished the race and these guys, they stayed on top of it and I really applaud them for it. It just sucks for so much work to go into it and then to have it end like this. We'll hold our heads up and go onto the next one -- looking forward to Atlanta."
Source: Toyota Motorsports