Joey Logano qualified his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota 12h for Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
At the start of the event, Logano’s Home Depot Toyota proved to be a handful. Much like in Friday night’s Nationwide Series race, one lane was preferred on the restarts. Friday night it was the high lane while Saturday night it was the low lane. On several early restarts, Logano struggled restarting up high and fell back to 17th.
Following the first round of pit stops, Logano was working his way towards the top-10. Fighting a car that was extremely loose off, Logano broke into the top-10 for the first time around lap 40.
The handling of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota didn’t improve much and Logano once again found himself riding around the 14th to 16th positions through the middle portions of the race.
Crew chief Jason Ratcliff radioed to Logano that they were going to take bigger swings at trying to fix the handling of the car to keep up with the changing track. On the fourth stop of the night for tires and fuel, Ratcliff called for major track bar adjustments and added a rubber to the left rear. The resulting changes brought the car to life.
While Logano still struggled on the early parts of the run, as the tires wore his No. 20 Toyota came to life. Thirty laps into a fuel run, Logano was the fastest car on the track.
By lap 223, Logano had found himself a permanent place in the top-10.
Again, much like Friday night, the race was going to come down to fuel mileage. Logano could not make it to the finish and had to come down pit road while running fourth for his final stop of the night with less than 15 laps to go for a splash of fuel. When Logano exited the pits, he found himself running ninth.
As the checkers flew, Logano was able to hold onto ninth in the final rundown. It was Logano’s fourth top-10 finish in the five Chase races this season.
Logano’s Post-Race Thoughts: “I feel like we had a solid night in the Home Depot Toyota. We had a good car. We might have been able to finish a few positions better than we did but I think we had a solid top-10 car all night long. This is just a tough track that is all about track position and passing is tough here. These cars are so aero sensitive that running down guys and passing them, even if you are faster, is tough. So considering all of the handling issues that we had and the way the track was changing and having to keep up with that, I’m pretty happy to come out of here with a top-10 finish. I’m not going to be happy with ninth because this team wants to win and be up front, but it certainly could have been a lot worse too.
“We just need to start the runs off better. I felt like early in the runs tonight, especially on restarts, we would just lose some spots and then 20 or 30 laps into it, we would start gaining ground on everyone. There for a while, I knew we were the fastest car on the track. But you get spread out pretty quick here at Charlotte and it’s tough to make up that lost time once everyone gets a second or two between them. And just like Friday night, it looked like it was going to come down to a fuel mileage race and that is exactly what happened. We held on as long as we could but we knew we couldn’t make it so it was worth just getting a splash of gas and trying to hold on there at the end. I’ll take a top-10 finish for sure and head to Kansas where I think we will be strong.”