Joey Logano qualified the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota 19th for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Logano was the top qualifying Joe Gibbs Racing machine on the 2.5-mile restrictor plate track.
Early in the race, the tone of the event was set and that tone would be pack racing. Logano settled into a position around 15th and rode in that spot for the first portion of the race.
On the first pit stop, Logano said his car was really loose and he couldn’t make any moves as the car felt “out of the track.” Crew chief Jason Ratcliff made track bar adjustments along with air pressure adjustments and sent the No. 20 back out to the track.
Once green-flag stops cycled through, Logano was still so loose the 22-year-old couldn’t be aggressive and make any moves and asked for a bigger adjustment on the next round of stops, in which Ratcliff made wedge and shock adjustments. Logano restarted 21st and worked his way into the top-10 just six laps later and would hang there for the next 20 laps.
On lap 125, Logano would get caught up in the first multi-car accident of the night that began as several cars got stacked up headed to pit road for another round of green-flag stops. Logano sustained minimal damage as he was checking up and hit from behind, which resulted in spinning through the infield grass. The No. 20 Dollar General team came in for several stops during the ensuing caution and made repairs, keeping Logano on the lead lap.
Logano hung with the pack and still had a fast car when another caution flew with just under 20 laps to go. Logano was running extremely hot due to a radiator fan that had quit during the accident and the team elected to come in and cool the engine down and switch fans. An additional stop for tires got Logano out way behind the pack and he trailed a quarter of a lap down as the field took the green.
Being that far back, Logano easily missed a multi-car accident with less than 10 and his allowed him to catch up to the field and get in position for the final green-white-checkered shootout to the finish. Logano started 11th when the final green flag waved.
As the teams took the white, Logano didn’t have a dancing partner and found himself 12th, however his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, who had been involved in the earlier accident and was a couple of laps down, came up to give Logano and push to get him back in the mix. Coming to the checkers, Logano was up to eighth when a number of cars in front of him began to wreck. Logano’s spotter Rocky Ryan did a masterful job of telling Logano to go low and he was one of the few cars in the pack to completely miss the final melee.
Crossing the line as the caution and checkers waved, Logano picked up a fourth-place finish, his second-straight top-five in the Coke 400 and his third-straight top-10 finish at Daytona.
With the finish, Logano moved up two places in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings and moved himself into the second Wild Card position behind teammate Busch.
With the top-10 finish, Dollar General customers will receive 10-percent off their entire online order at DollarGeneral.com this Monday. Offer is good only online at DollarGeneral.com and only this coming Monday.
Logano’s Post-Race Thoughts
“That was wild right there. How we missed that last wreck coming to the checkers I’ll never know. But all-in-all, it was a good night for the Dollar General Toyota. Tonight is one of those nights where we were luckier than we were good, but on these restrictor plate tracks, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good and we were here tonight. To come out of here tonight with a top-five finish and to put ourselves in position for the final Wild Card spot is huge. I know the points are still really close and it’s still anyone’s to win or to lose. But nights like tonight are what we need. We had a ‘never give up’ attitude tonight. Things didn’t go our way from the handling of the car to the car overheating after we went spinning through the grass there and Jason Ratcliff and the guys on this Dollar General team never gave up. That is what we need to keep doing each week and things will play out like they need to play out.
“We just really struggled with being way too loose in the beginning and I couldn’t do anything with the car. I couldn’t be aggressive and make any moves. We were finally getting it better there when we got spun through the infield grass. I’m not sure what happened other than some guys in front of me were coming in for green-flag stops and decided late and someone got spun and I got hit from behind trying to woah it up. Thankfully we didn’t have any major damage; they just had to pull the fenders out. The biggest problem was trying to keep it cool. It ran really hot after that and our radiator fan broke. So late, we just decided to come in and cool it down for the end. We missed that big wreck at the end and that put us in position to restart 11th on the final restart. From there, it was just drive and try to avoid the trouble we all knew was coming and that’s what we did. So good night and good weekend here at Daytona. Can’t complain with two top-five finishes.”