Camry driver Joey Logano drove his No. 18 Dollar General Toyota Camry to victory lane in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Michigan International Speedway.
The win marks Toyota’s first NNS victory at the two-mile speedway.
Logano led the field twice for 31 laps (of 125).
This is Logano’s first career Michigan triumph, his fifth NNS win of 2012 and the 14th NNS victory of his career.
It marks the sixth win for Toyota in 2012 and the 70th NNS win since joining the series in 2007.
Camry drivers Kurt Busch (third), Michael McDowell (seventh) and Brian Scott (ninth) also earned top-10 finishes at Michigan.
Other Toyota drivers in the field included Mike Bliss (13th), Joe Nemechek (15th), Jeff Green (17th), Jason Bowles (19th), Tayler Malsam (21st), Kenny Wallace (34th) and Kevin Lepage (42nd).
JOEY LOGANO, No. 18 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 1st Can you take us through the final two restarts? “Just make sure you go through the gears, you know, with these cars will punch such a big hole in the air it’s hard to get away from anyone. I knew the 30 (James Buescher) was waiting on it – I knew the game he was playing. He was waiting until the end to try to make that pass. He had a good run down into (turn) one. I was better in three and four and he could get me down the straightaway and try to dive-bomb me into one. I saw him do it, I started to block and I was like, ‘Nah, I just think if I get the momentum and I pin him down there I can get a big enough lead off of two.’ And it worked out perfectly. Man, Adam Stevens (crew chief) and all of the boys again gave me a great Dollar General car. We’ve been on a role lately and we’ve just got to keep it going man. This is a lot of fun. Obviously, I’ve got to thank Toyota. This is their first Nationwide win here at Michigan so that’s really cool. Obviously, Dollar General and all of the guys, GameStop, Sport Clips and Home Depot — and all of those guys who are helping us out. I’m excited about the win and it’s been a lot of fun lately.”
What has been the difference in your racing that has brought about so much success? “It’s a combination of a lot of things. As a driver I’m very confident right now in my abilities. I feel like I’ve got what it takes to win all of these races and it’s been working for me. Obviously I’ve got a great team. I’ve got a great crew chief on the Cup side with Jason (Ratcliff) and Adam (Stevens) over here, have been doing two awesome jobs and working together really well and making both programs rise up to where it needs to be. We’re just capitalizing on every opportunity we got right now.”
How did the tires hold up in the race? “Tires were fine — had no problems with our Dollar General car. We did have one problem, but I think I ran over a lug nut on the way out of pit road and it chunked one tire. Besides that, we had no issue on the race track. I’m ready for Cup practice now — I have a few things that I know I want to work on when I get in the car so I feel like this is going to help my Cup program tomorrow. It feels good to get into victory lane here at Michigan — the first Toyota win at Michigan in a Nationwide car so that’s really cool. Getting Dollar General back in victory lane again — that’s a lot of fun for those guys. I’m having a blast with it.”
Why did you choose the top line for the final restart? “When I started on the inside, I got beat every time. I was like, ‘I’m getting beat when I’m on the bottom so I might as well try the top.’ It worked — I had a good enough jump off the starts to get ahead of them every time. I was able to use it for the advantage.”
When did the other grooves come in during the race? “It came in better as we kept going, but the bottom of (turns) three and four came in well — actually we started in the second lane and we’ve been there all of practice in both series. As the race went on, the bottom of three and four started coming in so you can race there and the bottom of one kind of came in, but not really. I think the rubber on the race track is definitely gaining and the racing is getting better so I think by the time tomorrow rolls around, we’re going to have a really good race track and one heck of a race.”
What has contributed to your recent success? “We’ve had just a lot of confidence in myself lately and my abilities and knowing what I can do with a race car. I feel like I’m feeding my crew chiefs the best information and they’re doing the best job they can do to make the best race cars for me. There hasn’t been an opportunity that we let slip up yet. We’ve been in position to win a race and we’ve capitalized on it every time we’ve been in that position.”
ADAM STEVENS, crew chief, No. 18 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How good was the Camry this weekend? “Today I felt like we had a really good car in practice — by the way, it’s the same car we had at Fontana (Calif.) that we won with — it’s the second race on this car. We were good off the truck. The game was with the new pavement here and the higher drag and lower horsepower with these cars coming into this weekend. Every team out there was thinking, ‘Are we going to be able to hold it wide open and if so, are we going to have to cut drag and turn it into a speedway race?’ Everybody had package A, B and C of all the way full blown low drag and all the way full blown downforce. It was really a chess match in practice and as the practices went on it became obvious that maximum downforce was going to win the race. I felt that way probably earlier than most so we probably had more time to work on our stuff in that trim. I think that paid off today. The key to the race for us was the green flag run. We thought we had a loose wheel or a bad tire or something after the first stop and all it was we ran over a lug nut and took a chunk out of the tire. The tires held up great all day. We had to put four (tires) on the next stop and everybody took two and we restarted way back. We were able to make our way all the way back up to I think third before the stop. We made ground on them during the pit stop. The key to the race was being able to drive back through there and having a good enough car and smart enough drive to drive back through there on that green flag run.”
Do you feel you have been able to win each race where you think the car is strong this season? “We’ve been able to give him (Joey Logano) good cars this year — a lot of that is due to his progression and the feedback he’s able to give me and Jason (Ratcliff, 20 crew chief NSCS) on the Cup side. That translates to fast cars in the race. When we’ve had a fast car in the race — when we’ve had what we felt was the best car or close to the best car, we’ve brought home a trophy. That’s five times now, that’s probably getting borderline ridiculous because it just doesn’t happen. You don’t always win when you feel like you have the best car. So many things can happen. Talladega — passed on the last lap that could have not worked. The caution could have come out on the backstretch on the white flag. We couldn’t have caught (Ryan) Truex if the lapped traffic, perhaps, maybe. There’s a lot of circumstances playing into these wins, it’s not like we’re just going out there and wearing people out every weekend — that’s not the case. It’s still pretty even, but when we’ve been close, it’s worked in our favor.”
KURT BUSCH, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry, Kyle Busch Motorsports Finishing Position: 3rd How was your race today? “I felt like we did the best we could with that damage from that first spin by Danica (Patrick) — I didn’t see where she was in the top groove and a bunch of us were on the bottom side racing hard. I hit the back of the 22 (Brad Keselowski). Keselowski had some damage and we had to work our way back up from all that repair work and worked our way back up a couple times from starting in the back and brought the Monster Energy car home in third today. A little too much damage I thought when I got out of the car and looked at it I was like, ‘Woo, that was definitely slowing us up on the straightaway a little bit.’ The hood wasn’t sealed to the nose so it was a great finish all in all with all the teamwork that went into it — good, solid pit stops. The restart before the final one, I was on the inside and went from third to eighth and then the restart on the final one, I went from eighth back up to third. It was great to bring Kyle’s (Busch, team owner) car home with a top-three finish and just kind of keep building on what KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) is doing.”
Is Joe Gibbs Racing the team to beat in the Nationwide Series? “(Joe) Gibbs (Racing) is tough right now. They definitely have the advantage. For us, just working hard and being a single car team and competing for wins — it’s impressive.”
What was it like to be back racing? “It was great to drive the car.”
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 20 Pizza Ranch Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 7th How was your race today? “It was a decent run. I learned a lot today. I got us messed up in practice and I didn’t realize it until the start of the race. Just got it too free and had to tighten it up the whole race. When they said 25 (laps) to go, I thought they were kidding — the race went by so fast. It’s a good run for the Toyota Camry No. 20 Pizza Ranch car. We worked hard for it — we fought back from 14th there on the last couple restarts. The lines — just getting in the right line was real tough. We got a good restart and happy about that.”
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 20 Pizza Ranch Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing (continued) Does this give you momentum for next week’s race at Road America? “It’s good — it’s kind of frustrating when your teammate is in victory lane and you know you have a car that can do it. To be honest, I just didn’t do a good job in practice. This is what it takes to just know when I come back to Michigan — this is what I need to do. That’s just part of the learning curve.”
BRIAN SCOTT, No. 11 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 9th How did your Camry handle in the race? “The car drove really well. Restarts were really important. Track position was also very important. We did a good job coming from 17th for the first two segments of the race and really working our way up. We were a top-five car and the second-to-last restart we got trapped on the bottom when Kurt Busch made it three-wide and I got stuck on the bottom and got freight-trained. I went from like fifth to 10th. The last restart, I was on the bottom and just to maintain on the bottom and we actually picked one spot up. To get a top-10 — nobody knew what to expect here at Michigan so we’ll take a top-10 with our Dollar General Toyota and we’ll go on to Road America. It was a good effort, we had a fast car, there was a lot of stuff that happened, we had to battle through a lot of adversity — I’ll take a top-10.”
MIKE BLISS, No. 44 Toyota Camry, TriStar Motorsports Finishing Position: 13th
JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 AM/FM Energy Wood Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Finishing Position: 15th
JEFF GREEN, No. 14 Hefty/Reynolds Wrap Toyota Camry, TriStar Motorsports Finishing Position: 17th
JASON BOWLES, No. 81 American Majority Toyota Camry, MacDonald Motorsports Finishing Position: 19th
TAYLER MALSAM, No. 19 G-Oil Toyota Camry, TriStar Motorsports Finishing Position: 21st
KENNY WALLACE, No. 99 Family Farmers Toyota Camry, RAB Racing w/Brack Maggard Finishing Position: 34th
KEVIN LEPAGE, No. 10 Toyota Camry, TriStar Motorsports Finishing Position: 42nd