Camry driver Joey Logano took the checkered flag in Saturday afternoon's NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was his ninth NNS victory of the 2012 season.
Logano started from the pole and led the field four times for a race-high 168 laps (of 204).
How does it feel to win your ninth NNS race of 2012? "They didn't make it easy on me -- that's for sure with all those cautions and our car was very loose for the first couple laps or so after a restart. Once we got going it was pretty good and then they started catching back up. Not really much time to make an adjustment on the car throughout the race. We took two tires pretty much the whole race. To get the GameStop Toyota back in victory lane one more time -- they've been with me forever -- so it's awesome to get them in again. Epic Mickey 2 -- to get Mickey Mouse in victory lane, that's pretty cool. It might be the first time Mickey Mouse has been in victory lane. Got to thank Toyota, SportClips and Coca-Cola. It was definitely a fun race for sure and they kept me on my toes right until the end."
How strong was your race car? "It was good, but those guys were catching up to us. Man, those restarts were definitely tight and you've got to do whatever you've got to do to get out front. Brian (Vickers) and I had one heck of a race there trying to keep the lead and, man it was a lot of fun. It was nerve wracking. A lot more cautions than I wanted, but winning this race clinched us having the most wins in the Nationwide season and getting the pole today clinched that too. Those are two really cool awards to get throughout the year. Hat's off to these guys -- these guys are awesome -- so much fun racing with them. We still have one more left. We'll try to get number 10."
Did Brian Vickers give you a reason to worry at the end of the race? "Yeah, I had plenty of worries about him (Brian Vickers) and the 6 (Ricky Stenhouse). I knew I could beat him on the restarts -- I knew how to beat him -- and then when Brian got up there it was a whole new ballgame for me and I had to kind of change up what I was doing. And he figured out what I was doing, so I had to change it up a little bit in the last few circuits -- tried to make sure I got the nose ahead into (turn) one until I had position on him going in and tried to clear him from there."
Was the end of the race exciting? "It was go time, for sure. We were trying to go the whole time. It was a heck of a race. He (Brian Vickers) was able to pass me on the restart before that and then crossed each other back up, came back and then the caution came out again and I was like, 'Ah, again.' So, I had to go through these restart scenarios a lot and we were able to get them at the end. It was definitely a heck of race. He raced me hard. He raced me clean and we had a lot of fun."
What are your emotions leaving JGR after this year and after a successful Nationwide season? "Yeah, it's going to be tough to race against them. I hate not being able to have Adam (Stevens, crew chief). It's going to be definitely a tough call for me. It's definitely going to be hard. I know those Penske guys are definitely -- they have strong cars. You saw Brad (Keselowski) up there racing for the win today with me. That makes me excited about my future over there. I feel like I'm definitely making a good move by doing that, but we still want to finish off this on the best note we can. I appreciate everything Joe (Gibbs, team owner) and J.D.'s (Gibbs, general manager) given me the opportunities throughout the years being there since I was 15. It's cool to be out there winning races and it's bittersweet, but I'm also looking forward."
Did the outside lane come to life today? "Oh yeah, it came in, for sure. I think when we saw Brad (Keselowski) and I racing the outside and it was pretty good and he was actually running the high side and I was running the bottom. It's coming in. Tomorrow it will come in even more with the heavier cars, more horsepower -- the top will come in even more. Man, what a crazy race. It was a lot of fun."
ADAM STEVENS, crew chief, No. 18 GameStop/Epic Mickey2 Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Are you comfortable with your lead in the owners' standings entering Homestead? "The lead's never big enough unless you have it locked up before you get there. Anything can go wrong -- we've seen it time and time again -- but I'd rather have a big lead than no lead, I promise you that. We've worked hard for it all year. We come to the race track every week trying to win the race. We talked about it this week and we don't race well on our heels, so we came for the checkered flag and we were able to get it. We knew it was going to be a track position race since the repave -- that's the way it is. So, we put a game plan together as we usually do before the race started in the shop there and worked towards that in practice and stuck with it in the race. Turned out it worked out."
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 2nd
How was your race? "It was hard fought. We had a really good car on the long runs. We weren't quite as good on restarts. The track was really slick for everyone I think. I guess it's a good day when you walk away disappointed with a second. Just really proud of the effort. It's good to be back in the Nationwide Series. It's been a pleasure today."
How does it feel to finish second? "Pleased, but not satisfied. I guess it's a good day when you can be disappointed with second. I tell you, I just can't thank everyone at Gibbs (Joe Gibbs Racing) enough for this opportunity. What an incredible group of guys. A great car. Dollar General for putting it all together. Toyota -- a great engine. We wanted to win. We fought hard for it at the end. Joey (Logano) did a great job. They were a little better on restarts than us. But, it was still a great day and a great way to get next year started."
What were you trying to do battling Joey Logano on the last few laps? "I was looking to beat him. I think everyone really was slick on restarts. It's going to be a mess tomorrow too, I'm sure. Just something about the track and the tires. Nothing wrong with it -- it's just if anything it makes for exciting racing. The outside lane, it seemed like it really would come together on a long run, but getting into (turn) one on the outside was really tough on restarts -- really, really tough."
How was your first race with Joe Gibbs Racing? "First would have been better. We were close. Really proud of the guys. To get in the car for the first time, a new group of guys, and have a top-two you can't complain about that. I'm pleased but not satisfied. I really wanted to get Matt (Lucas, crew chief) a win and this whole team. They did a great job."
When was your first time working with Joe Gibbs Racing at the race track? "First time on the race track was Friday."
KYLE BUSCH, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 4th How was your race? "We had a decent car. It wasn't the best. We fought hard and worked as best we could and come home with a good fourth-place finish. The way the first couple laps went and started, I didn't think that we were going to be able to finish in the top-eight, but Mike (Beam, crew chief) made some good calls on pit road. Just keep coming up short. It seems like we were in the second to fifth class, but can't get to the winner class."
Did you learn anything that may help in tomorrow's race? "These cars are so different I don't think so. This was an entirely different everything than what the Cup cars are for tomorrow. My Cup car is pretty good though and I'm excited about tomorrow. Hope that we can have a better day than fourth tomorrow."
ALEX BOWMAN, No. 99 Port of Tucson/Levin Financial Toyota Camry, RAB Racing w/Brack Maggard Finishing Position: 15th
How was your race? "Got ourselves in a little bit of a hole with qualifying there and made our way back up to almost the top-five -- we were running sixth there for a while. Had a really good Toyota Camry. We took four (tires) -- some other people took two -- got kind of buried back in the field a little bit. I was outside of somebody and got in dirty air and got up against the wall and kind of ruined our day from there. Knocked the splitter down and got real tight, but after that we still drove back up to 12th at one point and just got dived back and took three-wide on the restart. But, to come home 15th with that battle, it's an okay day. I definitely learned from my mistakes. I just got to thank everybody at RAB Racing and Scott Zipadelli (crew chief). It's been a lot of fun to get to work with him and cool to have a hometown sponsor with Port of Tucson on board."