Logano Wins Greased Lightning 250; Rogers, Bayne Take Titles Bad Luck Ends for 16-year-old Driver Lakeland, Fla.-Prior to the running of the Greased Lightning 250 presented by Advance Auto Parts at USA Int'l Speedway, Joey Logano said he...
Logano Wins Greased Lightning 250; Rogers, Bayne Take Titles
Bad Luck Ends for 16-year-old Driver
Lakeland, Fla.-Prior to the running of the Greased Lightning 250 presented by Advance Auto Parts at USA Int'l Speedway, Joey Logano said he didn't need any luck to win, he just didn't need any bad luck that would keep him out of Victory Lane. On Saturday night, Logano had no such luck.
Logano, driver of the No. 51 Joe Gibbs Racing Oil Chevrolet, track down race-leader Shane Wallace with 24 laps remaining in the 250-lap event and pulled away to win his second race of the season.
"We didn't have any bad luck this race. Can you believe that? It's amazing," joked Logano, who now has three Pro Cup wins and is still 16 years old. "Our car was real loose all day in practice, so we made sure we tightened it up for the race. It never loosened up during the first part of the race, but we made an adjustment on the pit stop to free it up. It still wasn't where we needed it, but it was fast enough."
After running in the top five for the first 100 laps, Logano brought his No. 51 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet to pit road on Lap 102. And with many of the top 10 on different pit cycles, Logano, a Joe Gibbs Racing developmental driver, lined up 16th for the restart. But it wasn't long before Logano began to show his car was "fast enough."
In just 30 laps, Logano blasted past veterans Kirk Leone, Bobby Gill, Jay Fogleman and Michael Ritch on the outside to move into the top 10.
"When I got back there, I was like 'Oh crap, here we go again,'" said Logano.
And his high-line move couldn't have come at a more opportune time. Laps after Logano moved into the top 10, Kirk Leone tangled with Gabi DiCarlo, igniting a multi-car accident that took out Ritch, Brad Rogers and DiCarlo. Logano escaped unscathed.
While Logano's luck finally changed for the good, Southern Division point leader Clay Rogers' luck took a turn for the worse at USA Int'l as he suffered a DNF for the first time this season.
Rogers, driver of the No. 44 Automotive Development Group Ford, started third in the Greased Lightning 250 and took the top spot away from Michael Ritch, driver of the No. 28 Jackaroo Sauces Ford, on Lap 109.
Rogers, who led 63 laps, built a healthy lead during the middle stages of the event. But with less than 80 laps remaining, Rogers' machine began to come back to the pack. Shane Wallace, driver of the No. 38 EM Wallace Contractors Ford, swept around Rogers on Lap 176 to take the lead. On the following lap, Rogers pulled his car behind the wall with brake issues. Regardless of the DNF, Rogers still clinched the Southern Division title.
"This team has worked hard all year, and we haven't had a mechanical problem all year until tonight," said Rogers, who picked up an extra $25,000 for the regular-season title. "The caliper got jammed up in the linkage and locked the front brakes up. Stuff like that never happens, but it did. I'm happy for this team because we've worked hard to get here, but I'm kind of down in the dumps because we had a car that could have won the race tonight."
With Rogers out of the race and Bobby Gill, who led the first 104 laps, battling an ill-handling racecar in the second half of the event, the focus turned to race-leader Shane Wallace and second-place Wayne Willard, who both were looking for their first Hooters Pro Cup win.
Wallace seemed to have the upper hand in the battle as he pulled out to a two-second lead over Willard around Lap 180. But after a restart on Lap 196, Wallace was unable to gap Willard, and Logano joined the fray moments later.
>From there, the three put on a hard-fought battle for the top spot. Logano worked past Willard, driver of the No. 01 Bowen Family Homes Chevrolet, on Lap 218 to take over second and began to pressure Wallace for the top spot on Lap 220.
After lap several attempts to slip past Wallace, Logano finally took the top spot for good on Lap 227. Willard made his way past Wallace in the waning stages, but came up 5.7 second short at the finish. However, his second-place finish was a career-best effort.
"I really wanted to get some momentum heading into the Championship Series, because we've been struggling in the past two or three races," said Willard. "We've made some organizational changes, and that's taking some time to come together. I've kind of let the team down tonight by not finishing the last couple of races because I was little bit out of shape and gave up a little at the end of the race tonight."
Wallace held onto third, just ahead of hard-chargers Richard Boswell, driver of the No. 80n Champion Spark Plugs Chevrolet, and Ken Butler III, driver of the No. 00n Aaron's Dream Machine, who both posted career-best finishes.
After a heated battle for position, Jay Fogleman, driver of the No. 4 Greased Lightning Ford, slipped past Gill, driver of the No. 06 USG Sheetrock Brand Ford, to take sixth at the finish. After leading a race-high 104 laps and picking up the Greased Lightning Super Strength Performer Award, Gill finished seventh.
Brett Butler, the younger brother of Ken, brought his No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine home in eighth and picked up the Aaron's Hard Charger Award for advancing 19 positions during the event.
Ricky Turner, driver of the No. 27 Williams Bros. Lumber Chevrolet, and Mardy Lindley, driver of the No. 22 Black's Tire & Auto Service Ford, rounded out the top 10.
Rookie Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 29 McDonald's Ford, finished 14th, but the 15-year-old driver clinched the Southern Division Rookie of the Year title and became the youngest rookie of the year, breaking the record of Brian Vickers, who won the ROTY title at 17 in 2000.
"Man it's awesome," said Bayne. "Knowing that we beat out Brian Vickers is a great accomplishment. My team has worked so hard this year, knowing that this was one of our goals. All we can do now is try to win the overall title. There is great competition in this series; Derrick Kale from the North seems to be pretty tuff and there's a trio of great Rookies in the South. Mason and Hanniford are returning as well as Justin Hobgood, who's carrying some great momentum. Everything has to go pretty smooth in order to win, but our team seems to be ready for the challenge."
The Greased Lightning 250 at USA Int'l Speedway featured four lead changes among five drivers and was slowed 12 times for 66 laps of caution.
Greased Lightning 250 Notebook
Good News on the Horizon
Jay Fogleman, driver of the No. 4 Greased Lightning Ford, was all smiles after the Greased Lightning 250 at USA Int'l Speedway. It was in part due to his strong run and sixth-place finish, but largely due to an announcement to be made in the near future.
"Our car just got a little loose on the long runs, but I've got a idea of what we need when we come back here in November," said Fogleman, who ran in the top five for much of the event. "It felt good to drive up to the front again because that's where this team needs to be. We've got some announcements coming up that's going to put this team back up front and winning races again."
The Butlers Did It
Ken and Brett Butler both posted stout runs in the Greased Lightning 250 at USA Int'l Speedway. Brett finished eighth after starting 27th while Ken came home a career-best fifth.
"I'm just thrilled to death with our first top-five run," said Ken. "It was just one of those races that I needed. The car was awesome; I got to thank the guys for giving me a great car. It's pretty awesome."
A Deserving Ending
Richard Boswell, driver of the No. 80n Champion Spark Plugs Chevrolet, was on his way to a top-five finish at South Boston a month ago before a late-race incident took him out of contention. Undeterred, Boswell returned to action in the Greased Lightning 250 and was rewarded with a deserving finish this time around. Boswell, who drives for JR Motorsports, came home fourth in his second Pro Cup start and took home Miller Lite Rookie of the Race honors.
"The whole Champion crew busted their butts this weekend," said Boswell. "The car good in the beginning of the race, but I kept overdriving it. There at the end, I got in a rhythm and really had a good car. I can't thank Dale Jr. enough for this opportunity."
Who's the Best?
After 24 races, the Hooters Pro Cup Series will now start the Championship Series on September 15 at Iowa Speedway. Fifty-six drivers have qualified for the six-race shootout to crown the overall Hooters Pro Cup champion. In the five-year history of the Championship Series, Benny Gordon is the only driver from the Northern Division to win the overall title.