Joe Gibbs Racing press release
GameStop Team and Joey Logano Keeps Title Hopes Alive with Top-Five Finish at Phoenix International Raceway
The Finish: Joey Logano, Phoenix International Raceway and top-10 finishes are all too common of friends. Logano, racing in the No. 18 GameStop Toyota Saturday, started the Wypall 200 in the ninth position, fought a sometimes tight and sometimes loose racecar during the afternoon, but still prevailed to score a fourth-place finish and keep the title hopes alive for the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team. Heading into next week’s season finale for the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the No. 18 team holds a one-point lead on the No. 60 Roush Fenway team in the race for the Nationwide Series Owner’s Championship.
The Race Recap: Logano made his fourth start of the season behind the wheel of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota on Saturday afternoon with GameStop and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on the side of the car. Logano and the rest of the field didn’t know what to expect from the newly repaved Phoenix International Raceway, with one-groove proving the only way to go in Thursday and Friday’s extended practice sessions. However, once the green flag flew, it was obvious that racing was going to be just fine. After qualifying ninth, Logano and the No. 18 spent the first part of the race feeling out the track. A couple of early cautions allowed Logano and crew chief Jason Ratcliff to talk over the handling of the car, which Logano reported as loose. After an early round of stops, Logano started his march to the front, breaking into the top-five by lap 90. It was obvious to Logano, Ratcliff and the No. 18 team that Logano’s GameStop Toyota was much better on long runs than short runs. At one point just past halfway, Logano was the fastest car on the track by nearly a half second. Fantastic pit stops by the No. 18 team got Logano into second with 50 laps to go, racing Sam Hornish for the lead. Logano was once again the fastest car on the track. However, several late-race cautions over the race’s final 30 laps didn’t play into Logano’s hand. Once again, he found the No. 18 difficult to handle on the short runs and better on long runs. As the checkers flew, Logano crossed the line in the fourth position while trying to run down third place Carl Edwards. The fourth-place finish was Logano’s sixth top-10 finish in six career Phoenix NNS events.
Joey's Quotes: "We had a really good GameStop Toyota today. The car was really fast. The problem is the car was fast after about 10-15 laps. The first part of a run or right after a restart, the car wasn’t good at all. I spent those first 10 laps just trying to hold on and not lose too many spots. We might only lose one or two spots, but we would lose three, four or five seconds to the leader. And then we would come on and we would be the fastest car on the track. There were times Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) was reporting that we were running two or three tenths faster than the leaders. But when you fall five seconds behind the leaders, it takes a lot of fast laps to catch up. But the car was great. That was one of the best cars I’ve ever had here at Phoenix.
“We were fast despite all of the worries about the racetrack. A lot of us were worried about how the racetrack was going to be and if it was going to be just one lane. It took a while but eventually, there was a bit of a second groove, especially down in turns three and four. There were times I was up in the second groove and I thought I was going to lose some spots and I was actually able to hold my ground and even take spots back away. And now you add that apron down in the dogleg and that adds a whole new aspect to racing. You go down there and I swear it about knocks your helmet off. It’s such a hard hit when you go down there. But it’s such a shorter distance. You can drive right underneath a car doing it that way. That’s one way we were passing cars, for sure.
“I’m glad we were able to get fourth and keep the No. 18 team in the points hunt. They are really going to have to work for it next week to beat Carl and that 60 team, but if anyone can, this 18 team can. It’s going to be exciting. Hopefully, we can win the race down at Homestead in the No. 20 and the No. 18 team will finish second right behind us and we can celebrate a win and a championship together.”