Joey Logano surges to victory in California, 5th Nationwide win of seasonBy Will Graves, AP
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Logano races to 5th victory of season
FONTANA, Calif. — Joey Logano simply got mad after Greg Biffle put Logano in the wall Saturday in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Auto Club Speedway.
His father, Tom, tried to get even, and lost his NASCAR credentials in the process.
Joey Logano recovered to win the 300-mile race, pulling away from Brian Vickers over the final two laps to pick up his fifth series win of the year, and second in a row.
Yet while the 19-year-old exalted in Victory Lane, his father was being taken to the NASCAR hauler to talk with Nationwide Series director Joe Balash following a postrace confrontation with Biffle.
The elder Logano approached Biffle’s car in pit lane after the race and made at least one hand gesture in Biffle’s direction before a NASCAR official intervened.
“A NASCAR official pulled Mr. Logano’s annual credential after he confronted the 16 on pit road,” NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said.
Tom Logano will be eligible to sign for a single-event license while officials review the event and can attend Sunday’s Sprint Cup event at the track, Poston said.
Tom Logano was apparently upset about the scrape Biffle and his son on lap 50. The veteran was challenging for the lead when he hinted over the radio that he was going to put the young driver in the fence.
Moments later Biffle slid up the track while passing Logano on the inside, a move that slightly damaged Logano’s No. 20 Toyota. Dave Rogers, Logano’s crew chief, called Biffle “a coward” over the radio.
Poston said NASCAR is reviewing the video. Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs had no comment and neither Logano could be reached for comment following the race.
Tom Logano has been a fixture at the track since his son made his Nationwide Series debut last June. Joey Logano joined JGR’s Cup program at the end of the 2008 season and took over as the driver for the No. 20 Toyota in the Cup Series when Tony Stewart left to form his own team.
Joey Logano has delivered on his precocious talent, helping dominate the Nationwide Series along with teammate Kyle Busch.
He qualified on the pole for Saturday’s race, but thought his day was done after getting together with Biffle, figuring if he could manage a Top 10 finish, he’d have a decent day.
He got much more than that. While Biffle, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski battled for the lead, Rogers went to work on Logano’s car, finally finding the right formula late in the race.
Logano benefited from a late-race collision between Hamlin and Biffle, then caught another break when a late caution led to a green/white/checkered finish. He dominated the restart, pulling away from Vickers for the victory.
“I was going to try to salvage a top 10 out of it and all of a sudden I’m sitting third and all of a sudden I took the lead and I thought ‘I got a shot at this thing,’” Joey Logano said. “I can’t believe it.”
“You don’t want to get me mad,” Logano said. “I just race harder.”
Carl Edwards finished third and pulled within 155 points of series leader Kyle Busch, who exited his No. 18 Toyota early in the race because of a fever.
Hamlin filled in capably for his teammate and appeared to have one of the strongest cars on the track when he found himself stuck between Keselowski and Biffle coming out of Turn Four.
Hamlin and Keselowski had a run-in during the Nationwide race at Dover two weeks ago, and Hamlin admitted he got so caught up focusing on Keselowski he never saw Biffle trying to pass on the outside.
“I was trying, if I hold the line low, (Keselowski) ends up wrecking us anyway,” Hamlin said. “Either way it was going to be a bad situation.”
Busch, who had won two straight Nationwide races at California, has been fighting flulike symptoms the last few days but tried to make a go of it. He qualified second and quickly zoomed to the lead but feared he was getting too hot.
“When I get in the car and I get hot, I start not being able to see exactly straight,” Busch said. “The car was really good though. … (but) I didn’t feel it was in my best interest or the team’s best interest to win this race or keep going. I probably could have.”
Busch said part of his concern was being able to recover in time for Sunday’s race.
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