Joey Logano and GameStop Team Grab Top-10 Finish to Round Out 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series Season
The Finish: Joey and the GameStop team put an exclamation point on the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series season Saturday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After staring ninth, Joey and the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team fought a loose racecar and multiple restarts where he was struggling to find grip, eventually coming home with a 10th-place finish. The top 10 was Logano’s 15th top-10 run in 22 starts this season. He also finished with one win, one pole and eight top-five finishes for the 2011 season.
The Race Recap: Logano and the GameStop team got limited practice Friday due to rain but we're still able to qualify ninth Saturday afternoon in the Gamestop/PDP/Afterglow Toyota. When the green flag flew on the final NASCAR Nationwide Series event of the season, Logano began a slow and steady charge to the front, picking off cars one at a time despite multiple early cautions, settling into a nice rhythm riding around sixth place. Following the first round of pit stops it quickly became apparent that Logano’s No. 20 Toyota was too loose and the team would have to work on the handling, especially the few laps coming after restarts.
As the car continued to free up, Logano and Crew Chief Adam Stevens started making a plan on how to tighten the car up without affecting Logano’s middle. Logano hit pit road under green just prior to halfway for his second stop when Stevens noticed a car spinning on the front stretch. A great pit call by Stevens had Logano continue on through the pits without stopping, finding him one of just 10 cars still on the lead lap. When he came back in to pit under caution Stevens called for "wholesale" changes including adding a spring rubber and making a shock adjustment among other changes.
For the remainder of the event, Logano continued to struggle on restarts, often losing several spots before the No. 20 Toyota came around. Logano found himself seventh late in the going and catching fifth and sixth, but several late-race cautions played against the GameStop team. Logano spent the remainder of the event just trying to hold on, eventually coming home 10th as the checkers flew to end the 200-lap event and the 2011 Nationwide Series season.
Joey's Quotes: "It wasn’t the way we wanted to end the season with the GameStop Toyota. We were really hoping to go out here and compete and try and get GameStop a win before the year was out. But we just really struggled tonight. It was frustrating to say the least. I felt like we had a good car, but just like what we’ve fought a lot of times this year and specifically with this tire, we were just junk on the first 10 laps or so after a restart. Then the car would start to come around, but with the way these races go and with the way aero plays such a part in these races, you just fall behind and you can’t make up that much ground. The guys up front have clean air and you are stuck in dirty air and by the time the car comes around, you are already a few seconds behind and that’s tough to make up even when you are faster. I felt like we were on par with those front guys 10 or 15 laps into the run, but with all of the restarts that we had tonight, it just bit us. We fell back and fell back and just couldn’t make up the ground. I’m happy we were able to finish 10th, but that isn’t where we wanted to be or where we should be.
“All in all, it was a pretty good season. There were a few races that I feel like we really should have won and left something on the table. We were able to win at Daytona which was huge for me and for the team. It still stands as probably the biggest win of my career. And we were in contention for a lot of races. Two races that I’ll think about for sure was the first Dover race where we got together with Carl (Edwards) coming to the white flag while racing for the lead and ended up wrecked on the front stretch; and the Bristol night race, where we ran Kyle (Busch) down late in the race from a couple of seconds back and had that photo finish for the win. It was a blast to get to work with Adam (Stevens) all season long and watch him and this No. 20 team mature. All but one of those guys was new to the team this year, so it was a growing year for all of us. It was also a lot of fun to work with Jason (Ratcliff) and the No. 18 guys for a couple of races. The more you work with people, the more you can take away from it all. And of course, it was great to work with GameStop again. They are just an awesome sponsor and they’ve been there from the start of my Nationwide Series career. You don’t see that very often these days, so to have a sponsor there that keeps coming back and that has such a great relationship with a driver and team is pretty cool. I look forward to working with them well into the future and seeing more and more of their cool paint schemes. Congrats to Ricky Stenhouse for winning the Nationwide Series Championship. It’s been cool to get to know him a little more this year and he’s well deserving of the title, especially after the year he had last year. All-in-all, it was a good year and hopefully next year will be even better.”