In his only NASCAR Nationwide Series road race of the year, Joey Logano qualified his No. 18 GameStop/BuyMyTronics.com Toyota in the sixth position for Saturday afternoon’s race.
As the green flew, Logano started showing his road course abilities, fighting a tight car and moving himself from sixth to fourth before the first round of pit stops.
As is customary on NASCAR’s road courses, pit strategy is just as important as a fast racecar. Crew chief Adam Stevens called Logano into the pits for his first stop on lap 20. The team made minimal adjustments and got the No. 18 GameStop Toyota out fast.
When green flag stops, cycled through, Logano found himself running second and fell to third during the second stint of the event. Logano came in to pit again at lap 51 and Stevens made more minor changes to get the No. 18 running better.
Logano found himself running some of his fastest times of the day after his second stop. On lap 55, Logano was running with leaders Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards when those two drivers made contact. As they slowed, Logano made a charge to get by both. Logano couldn’t quite make the pass of Busch but was ahead of Edwards when the No. 60 car got into the back of Logano’s No. 18 and spun him around. Logano did a complete 360 and kept on going, but lost several positions in the process and flat spotted his tires.
A timely caution a couple of laps later allowed Logano to pit his No. 18 Toyota for fresh tires and another adjustment. Unfortunately, Logano would have to start near the back of the lead lap cars.
On lap 59, Logano restarted the race in 18th. Two laps later, he was 14th. In another two laps, he was 12th. By lap 74, Logano had made an impressive charge from 18th to fifth and was faster than all of the cars in front of him. However, just as Logano made the pass to get back into the top-five, the 22-year-old radioed in that the engine was letting go.
Logano tried to hold on, but his engine problems continued to get worse. After coming from the back of the pack, Logano had to limp home to a 22nd-place finish.
Logano’s Post-Race Thoughts: “Oh well, what are you going to do about it? Sometimes, you just can’t control things that you have no control over and that happened to us twice today. The first time, we just got dumped in the corner by the 60 (Edwards) and that pretty much ruined our day, or so we thought. After all of that, we were making a charge back up through the field and we were coming, but the engine just started letting go and after that happens, there isn’t much you can do about it. You just have to ride it out and that is what we did. It’s too bad really. At the beginning of the day, we didn’t have a great GameStop Toyota but we were working on it and getting it better and then after that spin, we had maybe the best car on the track. We were super fast and it showed, coming up through there and making up 14 positions or so in just a few laps.
“I feel like without the engine issues, we could have made it easily into the top-three and, maybe with a late caution, we could have had a shot to win the race. I thought we could do it for sure. Adam and the guys gave me a great car and made it better as the day went on. I learned a lot out there too. I just hate it for GameStop and BuyMyTronics.com. We had a really cool looking car and I kept thinking how neat it would look in Victory Lane. I really think we are going to win one of these road course events someday. Sometimes, you just can’t control what ‘s out of your control.”
Source: Joe Gibbs Racing