One Down With a Career to Go for Logano GameStop Driver Brings Home Solid Sixth-Place Finish in NASCAR Nationwide Series Debut Even though Joey Logano celebrated his 18th birthday exactly one week prior to Saturday's Heluva Good! 200, the ...
One Down With a Career to Go for Logano
GameStop Driver Brings Home Solid Sixth-Place Finish in NASCAR Nationwide Series Debut
Even though Joey Logano celebrated his 18th birthday exactly one week prior to Saturday's Heluva Good! 200, the Middletown, Conn.-native showed the kind of maturity more befitting of a veteran in his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
Logano qualified his No. 20 GameStop Toyota a strong ninth, battled back from an early pit road incident that dropped him to 28th in the 43-car field, and finished an impressive sixth in his first career Nationwide Series race.
"The GameStop Toyota was pretty good all day," said Logano, who had to wait until he turned 18 -- NASCAR's minimum age requirement to compete in the stepping-stone division to the elite NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. "I guess we were a sixth-place car and we finished sixth. I thought we might've been a little better. What put us behind was having to battle back all day and not getting the track position we needed. Overall, I thought it was a good day."
The Joe Gibbs Racing protege worked his way up to seventh before the caution flag waved on lap 18. But after his first pit stop of the race on lap 22, contact was made with Kasey Kahne's Dodge, as it was pitted directly in front of Logano's cramped pit stall. The result was a slightly damaged left front fender, which had to be pulled out during a second, unscheduled trip to pit road the very next lap.
"We came in and got pinned in behind the '9' (Kahne)," Logano said. "He was stuck, so he put it in reverse and backed over my left front fender. We had to come back in and pull that out, so that kind of put us behind for the rest of the day trying to get track position."
Despite restarting in the 28th position 25 laps into the race, the Nationwide Series newbie was never rattled. With the patience and precision of drivers twice his age, Logano picked up 18 spots over the next 42 laps to re-enter the top-10 by lap 67.
"At that point I was pretty ticked off at myself, but we knew what we had to do," said Logano, who made a race-high 25 green flag passes. "We just had to get by all of those cars and get our track position back, have some more good pit stops and get back in that race. We got back up to fifth, and I feel like the team did a good job there. I'm so proud of Dave Rogers (crew chief) and all the guys. We really worked well together."
While Logano had been waiting for this day since signing a development deal with Joe Gibbs Racing three years ago, his wait was made a bit longer as rain soaked the 1-mile oval, forcing the race to be delayed almost three hours from its original 3 p.m. EDT start time. But not even a rain delay could rattle Logano.
"I woke up this morning a little nervous, but it seemed like after qualifying I was back to my normal goofy self for some reason," said Logano, who will be back in the No. 20 GameStop Toyota next weekend in the Nationwide Series race at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway. "I was really nervous even during the rain delay. I just hung out, and when it was game time, it was game time. I never really worried about it too much."
Logano's sixth-place effort kept the No. 20 car first in the Nationwide Series owner standings, expanding its lead to 159 points ahead of the No. 2 entry of Richard Childress Racing after 14 of 35 races on the Nationwide Series schedule.