Joey Logano qualified the No. 18 GameStop Toyota on the pole for Saturday afternoon’s Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway. The pole was Logano’s fifth of the season and the 21st of his career. Logano’s five poles in 2012 leads all drivers in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Logano and the GameStop team came into the pits and gave up the top spot to work on the handling of the No. 18 Toyota. While most teams took just two tires, Logano and crew chief Adam Stevens decided to change four and made a number of chassis adjustments. Logano came out of the pits in ninth.
Logano made it back up to sixth before the next caution but still complained his car was so tight that he couldn’t get back to the gas and was getting beat by many of the front runners. Stevens called Logano back to pit road to make several other major chassis adjustments, forcing Logano to restart the race 24th.
The race played out and Logano found himself back in the top-five by lap 70. Still complaining of an extremely tight car, Logano and Stevens decided to work the race on their new pit strategy.
Things were looking alright for Logano until just after halfway when the No. 6 car of Ricky Stenhouse was passing Logano and got into the side of the No. 18 Toyota, forcing Logano into the wall. The team had to bring the car down pit road just a couple of laps later to fix damage on both the right and left side of the GameStop Toyota. Just a couple of laps later, another caution came out trapping Logano two laps down.
Stevens and the team worked to try and fix the damage as much as possible and after taking the wave around twice, Logano found himself back on the lead lap at lap 138. However, with a severely damage car, Logano did all he could to just hold onto a top-15 position.
While fighting an ill-handling car and the damage, Stevens continued to try and get the car better and Logano reported it was good on the restarts. With a number of cautions, Logano was able to make up several spots and found himself back in the top-10 with just 30 laps to go.
As the race wore on, it became evident the event would come down to fuel mileage. Logano came in to make some adjustments later than everyone else and had plenty of fuel for the end.
With a green-white-checker finish looming, Logano restarted the race in 7th. As several cars began to run out of gas, Logano found himself running third coming to the white flag. As leader Kyle Busch ran out of gas coming to the checkers, Logano tried to hold off the No. 3 car of Austin Dillon. The two were side-by-side at the line with Dillon finishing second and Logano coming home third.
With his third-place finish, Logano was able to extend the lead in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Owner’s Standings. The No. 18 JGR team now holds a 21-point lead over the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing team and a 27-point lead over the No. 6 of Roush-Fenway Racing with just three races remaining on the schedule.
Logano’s Post-Race Thoughts: “Considering you look at this GameStop Toyota and it looks like it just came off the track at Bristol or Martinsville, I think we are pretty happy to come out of here with a top-three finish. We just didn’t have a race-winning car today. We were just too tight and no matter what we tried to do to the car it just never loosened up. At first, I was tight from entry to exit. Then we got the entry fixed, but we could never get the car to turn in the middle and it was horrible off the corners. That is where we were losing all of our time. But we were working on it and trying everything we could. We got off on our pit strategy but I think it was all going to play out in the end.
“Then just past halfway, we just got run into by the No. 6 car. I know he didn’t mean to do it and it was just a racing deal, but he just ran right into us and it ruined our day after that. The car was destroyed. We fell two laps down and I thought we were done. But Adam (Stevens) and the guys on the team never gave up and we were able to get back on the lead lap. The car was good on the restarts and we just got lucky and ended up having a green-white-checker finish. Guys started running out of fuel left and right and before you knew it, we were running third coming to the while. When Kyle (Busch) ran out, I was hoping he would slow up the No. 6 and maybe we would have a shot, but Ricky (Stenhouse) was able to keep going and then Austin (Dillon) got on the outside of us and just nipped us at the line. I’m not happy with getting a third-place this way, but sometimes you have to take runs like this. That goes to show you what this team is made of and how we never ever give up.”