Joe Gibbs Racing press release
Logano and GameStop Team Just 0.019-Seconds Away from Victory at Bristol Motor Speedway
The Finish: Joey Logano chased down his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and race leader Kyle Busch over the final 10 laps of Friday night’s Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway as the two battled for the win. With just three laps to go, Logano found himself and his No. 20 GameStop Toyota on the rear bumper of Busch. With two to go, Logano pulled side-by-side with Busch. And as the white flag flew, Logano and Busch raced side-by-side around the high-banked half-mile track to the delight of the crowd. However, at the checkers, it was Busch edging Logano by a mere 0.019 seconds at the finish, the closest finish at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The Race Recap: Logano and the No. 20 GameStop team found themselves just a couple of hundredths of a second off all day long at Bristol Motor Speedway. In qualifying, Logano was edged out for the pole by Busch by just 0.02 seconds, marking an all JGR front row. As the green flew, Busch and Logano pulled away from the field, running one-two for the race’s first 50 laps. Logano briefly fell back to third but found himself running second and running down Busch. Logano fell victim to the dreaded “inside line” multiple times during the race. Following several caution flag periods, Logano constantly found himself restarting on the inside line, which was not the preferred line on restarts. Logano fell to third, then to fifth and all the way back to seventh on various restarts. However, each time he fell back, Logano’s No. 20 GameStop Toyota proved one of the fastest on the track, passing several cars in his march back to the front. Logano was fourth when a late-race caution flew. Adam Stevens, Logano’s Crew Chief, made the call for Logano to stay out on the track, giving him the lead as the three cars in front of him pitted. Logano held onto the lead for 12 laps before giving it up to Busch, who had fresher tires. Logano and Busch distanced themselves from the field as the laps wound down. With 10 laps remaining and a one-second lead for Busch, Logano began running his JGR teammate down. With five laps to go, Logano found himself on Busch’s bumper. With two to go, Logano made his move and the two teammates raced side-by-side as the white flag flew. Logano ran Busch up the track and the pair bumped on the final corner as they raced to the checkers. In what was nearly a dead heat, Busch was able to beat Logano back to the line by a mere 0.019 seconds, marking the closest finish in Bristol Motor Speedway history since the introduction of the electronic timing and scoring system.
Joey's Quotes: "Man, it’s just so frustrating to be that close to the win and not to be able to get it. There is nothing to be upset about though. That was a great night right there for Joe Gibbs Racing. We qualified one-two, ran one-two for a lot of laps and finished one-two. But man, it really sucks to be that close to the win, especially here at Bristol, and to come home second. To be able to even compete with Kyle here at Bristol, where he is so good, just goes to show you how good of a car this GameStop Toyota was tonight. But it is frustrating to be that close to the win, just a couple of inches, and to sit here as the second-place finisher. I did all I could to try and use him up without wrecking him and try to get the win. And that was fun. Those are the races that are the most fun. I could have easily have just moved him up the track, but that always takes a little bit away from the win. When you can run hard and close, rub doors and see smoke flying and cross the line side-by-side, that is a lot of fun right there. I just wish we were the ones celebrating on the front stretch and in Victory Lane. I really want to get GameStop a win before the year is out.
“We had a good GameStop Toyota all day long. We weren’t great in practice, but we knew we would have a good car for the race. We just got beat out for the pole but Kyle, go figure. We started second and ran there a good part of the race. There were definitely three really good cars out there tonight, the 18 (Busch), the 33 (Clint Bowyer) and us. We were the class of the field for sure. Our biggest problem is that every time the caution would come out, we would be in second or third or fifth and we would have to restart the race on the inside line and that is hard. The outside is such a preferred grove around this track, especially on the restarts. There is no way you can’t lose one or two positions if you are on the inside on a restart unless the guy outside of you makes a mistake and you can get clear. We fell all the way back to seventh there at one point. But the car was good and we were able to race back to the front. Then, Adam made a good call to stay out there on old tires when everyone else pitted to get track position. We didn’t have anything to lose and we knew our car was fast. So that allowed Kyle and me to race for the win.
“I really thought we were going to have a shot to win. Kyle pulled out the lead, but as he was lapping traffic, you could tell the handle on his car was going away a little bit and he was catching lapped cars, so we were able to make up some big ground. My spotter Mark (Robertson) was on the radio telling me to go and get him and Adam was cheering me on. I just drove as hard as I could those last 10 laps. I got right up to his bumper and I had a good corner and was able to get under him. We raced side-by-side and I tried to use him up without wrecking him in that last corner. You can’t wreck your teammate no matter what. Coming off the corner, I thought I had the momentum to get him, but then he just pulled ahead by a couple of inches. Man, it was so close. I was just looking at his car and I knew that he had just got me. But it was fun either way. What a great night for GameStop and for JGR. And congrats on Kyle on his big win. That is an impressive feat he just accomplished there. Now, maybe I’ll start racking up the wins and catch him.”