With 31 of 33 races on the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule complete, the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 team remains in the lead in the Owner’s Championship point standings. As an organization, JGR is looking for its third NASCAR Nationwide Series Owner’s Championships in the last four seasons, with the No. 20 team winning in 2008 and the No. 18 team winning the title in 2009 and 2010. The team has a 27-point lead over both the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing team and the Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 team. So far this season, the No. 18 team has earned six wins (all coming with Joey Logano behind the wheel), five runner-up finishes, 19 top fives, 26 top 10s and four pole awards.
M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E TAKES A RIDE IN PHOENIX: This weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, Logano will have a special guest riding with him. And it’s a guest that is easily considered one of the most recognizable faces in all the world. Who? Yep, Mickey Mouse. This weekend, the No. 18 GameStop Toyota will carry the look of Disney’s Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two video game. In Disney’s Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, gamers will play as Mickey Mouse and for the first time ever, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney’s first cartoon star, in an all-new adventure of creativity and discovery. Created by industry luminary Warren Spector and Disney Interactive’s Junction Point game development studio, Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two returns the franchise to the Wii system from Nintendo, as well as expanding it to new HD consoles including the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system.
10: IT’S STILL A GOAL FOR LOGANO: The 2012 season has been one for the record books. And it might have been the most remarkable season Logano has ever had behind the wheel. In addition to his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Pocono Raceway back in June, Logano has dominated the NASCAR Nationwide Series, earning eight wins in just 20 starts. In addition to those eight wins, Logano has grabbed 11 top fives and 16 top 10s. Logano has also led for 896 laps in Nationwide Series competition this year, which leads the series and also is a career-high for the 22-year-old. With only two races left, Logano would love to win the final two and get to 10 victories. That would give him a 45 percent winning percentage, which would top the all-time best winning percentage. The current best winning percentage was set by Kyle Busch in 2010 when he won 13 races in 29 starts, which gave him a winning percentage of 44 percent.
ELITE COMPANY ALREADY FOR LOGANO: While Logano would like to win two more races this season and give himself a total of 10 for the year, Logano is already in an elite group of NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers who have won eight or more races in a single season. In fact, Logano is one of only six drivers who have won eight or more NASCAR Nationwide Series events in a single season. Logano joins the likes of Kyle Busch, Sam Ard, Kevin Harvick, Jack Ingram and Carl Edwards to have won eight or more events in a single season. If he were to win one more for nine, Logano would be one of only four drivers (Busch, Ard, Harvick) to accomplish that feat. Only two drivers, Busch and Ard, have ever won 10 or more races in a single season. Busch in the single-season record holder with 13 wins coming back in 2010.
LOOKING TO PICK UP ANOTHER BANQUET AWARD: Despite never running for a Championship in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Logano has been a big part of the year-end banquet. In 2008, Logano helped the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team earn the Owner’s Championship. In 2010, Logano earned the year-end pole award by winning the most poles in the season at eight. This season, Logano is on his way to helping the No. 18 team win the Owner’s Championship and also has his eyes set on the award for the most wins of the year (with eight) and for the most poles of the season (with five).
THE RACE: The Great Clips 200 at Phoenix International Raceway (Avondale, AZ; 1-mile oval) is set for Saturday November 10, 2012. The race will be broadcast on ESPN at 3:30 p.m. ET, with radio coverage on MRN.
Joey Logano Quotes: “These last two races of the year are going to be pretty exciting because there is a lot going on. Personally, I want to go out there and win them both and get to 10 race wins in a single season. That would be huge and that would put me in a very exclusive group of great drivers. And just to be able to say that you were able to win 10 races in a single season is an amazing accomplishment and says a lot about your team and your organization. But we are also looking for the Nationwide Series Owner’s Championship. That is very important to JGR and I feel like all of the guys in the Nationwide Series show and all of the guys on my team deserve it. So while you are going out there and looking for wins, you also have to remember in the back of your mind that you are still points racing and you still need to get the best possible finish that you can.
“I’ve always really enjoyed Phoenix. It’s been one of my better tracks even though I’ve never had the opportunity to win there. I feel like since they did the repave, it’s been a little more challenging. The racing groove hasn’t widened itself out just yet, so that makes passing tough and track position key. But that has been one of our strongest attributes this year is to go out there and run really well on tracks that we’ve normally struggled on in the past. I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
Crew chief Adam Stevens Quotes: “Phoenix has been challenging since the repave. It seems the track is always changing throughout the weekend. It might be a little more consistent as its had another few months to age. One of the tricky things this weekend is practicing after the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West cars practice. Their rubber makes the track slick for us. You have to remember that when you are setting up the car for practice. The race is short and goes by fast. We generally only have two opportunities to pit and work on the car. This means that you have to be close when the race starts. Track position and pit strategy come into play here also because it is really hard to pass. So you will see a lot of that in the race.”