Joey Logano wanted a good finish on Sunday for several reasons. Not only was he out to prove that his finish of second in the spring race at Martinsville Speedway wasn’t a fluke, but it was also the first race for his regular NASCAR Nationwide Series sponsor, GameStop, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
And Logano came out of Martinsville Speedway with just what he wanted; a sixth-place finish behind the wheel of the No. 20 GameStop Toyota. It was Logano’s third-straight top-10 finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and fourth top-10 in the last five races.
Logano qualified the GameStop Toyota in the 22nd position. However, it didn’t take Logano long to move his way to the front of the field. After falling back on the initial start to 24th, Logano found himself in the top 20 by lap 22 and then found himself in the top 10 by lap 91.
Crew Chief Greg Zipadelli and the entire Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) team continued to improve the car all race long, searching for the perfect balance of a sometimes loose- and sometimes tight-handling car. All of the team’s adjustments seemed to be to Logano’s liking though, as the No. 20 was constantly picking up positions all afternoon noon no matter where he was in the running order.
The GameStop team got behind in the middle portion of the race when a caution brought half of the field to pit road while Joey and the other half stayed out on the track, forcing Logano to restart the race in the 19th position. However, Logano was able to log laps and pick off cars one-by-one, eventually racing his way back into the top 10.
Logan’s biggest detractor during the race was his proficiency for starting on the top-lane during restarts. More times than not, Logano found himself on the outside lane, which wasn’t the preferred line and would often find himself losing several spots on restarts before getting himself inline and back to the low side. However, once on the low side, Logano would start his march back to the front.
Logano once again found himself in the top 10 thanks to a great pit stop by the GameStop crew on lap 386. After restarting 10th, Logano worked his way up to sixth over the race’s final 100 laps, giving him a second and sixth in his last two races at the paperclip-shaped half-mile track.
Denny Hamlin, Logano’s teammate at JGR, earned the victory, while Kyle Busch finished fourth. The sixth-place run for Logano moved him up another position in the Sprint Cup point standings to 17th. He is less than 50 points out of 16th position.
Joey Logano Thoughts:
“I’m really happy with our sixth-place effort, especially with all of the things we had to overcome today. It was great to get GameStop a top-10 finish in their first effort in the Cup Series, and it was cool to see their car on the track. I always have a great time representing them in the Nationwide Series so it was fun to get to do it in the Cup world this weekend.
“We had a really good car. We were just a little tight there early and then had to go back on some of our changes in the middle portion of the race, then we got tight again late. Every time though, Zippy (Crew Chief Greg Zipadelli) would make the right calls and get the car a little bit better. Our biggest problem was getting stuck back there mid-pack when some of us leaders pitted and others didn’t and then also always finding ourselves running in a position that put us on the outside during all of those restarts. The top lane just doesn’t go here, and you always find yourself losing a few spots and working your butt off just to get clear and get down to the bottom. Once we did, we could make those positions up because we had a fast car. But in doing so, you also use your stuff up.
“I think we had a top-five car for sure. I don’t know if it was a winning car, but it was a top-five car. We just used up our stuff there on that last green-flag run. I think if we had a chance to come in and get some tires, we could have been in the top-five. But all-in-all, another top-10 finish is great. That is three in a row for us and two straight here at Martinsville, which I would say isn’t one of my best tracks. So we are headed in the right direction and building up a lot of momentum for the last four races of the season. I’m pretty pumped about it really.”
The No. 20 GameStop Toyota will return to the NASCAR Nationwide Series in two weeks at Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge on Nov. 6. Texas is the home track for GameStop, which is located just miles away in Grapevine, TX. Logano started first and finished second earlier this year at Texas in the GameStop Toyota.