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Joey Logano’s pit crew keeps him in contention for the win Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway. Logano became the first driver to get back-to-back wins at the track.Photo by Wade Bell

Logano wins second straight Meijer 300

June 17, 2009
Last year, at the age of 18, Joey Logano became the youngest driver to win a NASCAR race, winning the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway. Saturday night, he became the first driver to get back-to-back victories there, earning both wins from the pole position.

"This place is one of my favorite race tracks," Logano said with a big smile on his face. "It's one of those places that just suits you. (Crew chief) Dave (Rogers) brings a good car here, and I know what I like and I know what I want. When I go around this place, I know where I want to be. To win two-for-two here, that's really cool for me and the whole team."

Logano first had to get past teammate Kyle Busch in more ways than one. Busch got to the track from Michigan Speedway, after finishing second in the Craftsman Truck Series race, at 5:27 p.m. as qualifying began and jogged to his car. Just eight minutes later, he took his No. 18 car to the track and put the Toyota on the pole with a speed of 174.848 mph.

But Logano had been fast the day before, running 174.842 in the final practice. Logano, the 20th driver to take the track in qualifying, grabbed the pole away from Busch with a speed of 174.865.

"It was apparently good enough to get the pole, but I didn't think it was," Logano said after the run. "I was dead sideways the whole time in qualifying."

Logano took the lead when the race began as the sun was going down. Two turns later, however, Busch grabbed the front spot, followed by Justin Allgaier, with Logano dropping to third. The first of eight caution flags came out on lap five when Stephen Leicht spun around in turn four. Logano pulled back into second on the restart and both he and Busch began to pull away from the field.

Kevin Hamlin later took the front position following a second caution, as the entire field came to the pits for service. That lasted only briefly, however, as Busch went back in front on lap 29. By lap 50, Busch's lead was up to 2.129 seconds over Logano. Another caution came out on lap 77 when Derrike Cope and Kenny Hendrick found the wall between turns one and two.

At the halfway point, Busch held a 2.821-second lead over Jason Leffler, with Logano in fourth place. Logano was one of several drivers hit with speeding penalties on pit road. There were 28 speeding penalties issued, seven of those coming on lap 71. NASCAR officials later admitted there was a glitch in the system, but the penalties still stood.

"It was a thing where the cone was not in a proper place or the speed trap was not calibrated right," Brad Keselowski, one of the victims, said. "There's no way, when you go all the way down pit road at the same speed, that you can speed in one and not the other. You'd be speeding in all of them."

Busch continued to lead until lap 138 when he went to pit road under green flag conditions, allowing Brendan Gaughan to take the front spot. The lead then began to dance to other drivers as the pitting continued, but, after the cycle was complete, Busch was out in front again, this time by 3.272 seconds over Logano with 50 laps to go.

"I screwed up coming down pit road, speeding down pit road, but I didn't think it was a big deal at that point in the race," Logano said. "I thought we had plenty of time to make it up as long as we kept the fenders on it."

A caution caused by Shelby Howard on lap 165 allowed Gaughan to take the lead from Busch after pitting. Immediately after the race resumed, however, Busch was back up in front again. Gaughan caused the next caution, when he spun in turn four and slid into the front straight grass.

"I don't know what (car owner) Rusty (Wallace) was saying in the booth, but when I spun in on old tires versus new ones, I'm sure he wasn't proud of our decision (to take old tires)," Gaughan said. "It was my own fault. I overdrove it into turn three to dig it with the leader. We still came back to fourth."

Busch led Logano on lap 175 by 0.314 of a second. The last caution of the day came on lap 184, when Mike Bliss wiped out his car on the front straight, forcing a red flag so safety crews could clean up fluids on the track.

The race resumed on lap 185. Six laps later, Logano went under Busch for the lead in turn three and quickly began to pull away. The 19-year-old cruised through the final nine laps to win by a 1.625-second margin over Busch for his second straight victory at the track.

"Two poles, two wins, a perfect record here," Logano said. "We had a really good game strategy tonight. In practice, we were really, really good on old tires. We put on new tires and we were dead sideways. I told them, 'I don't know what to do here.' Dave got it pretty good here. At the start of the race, it was tight. He fixed it where it needed to be, so it was really cool."

Busch gave a brief television statement then immediately left the track.

"It always happens that way," Busch told ESPN. "We always lose in the end. … Joey is better than they are at these places. Congratulations to him. He learned from Mark Martin, obviously, and knows how to save his stuff in the end and snooker others in and not adjust their stuff on their race car."

Keselowski was third.

"We'll take a third," he said. "(Carl Edwards) had a bunch of troubles. We gained a bunch of points on him. We passed (Jason Leffler) in points. We've been fighting hard to do that. We're back in the thick of things."

Gaughan was the top rookie, finishing fourth. When asked about the multiple grooves on the track, Gaughan said not all of them were on the pavement.

"I even found a fourth one, if you count the grass," Gaughan said with a laugh, having spun into the grassy area on the front straight. "The bottom groove definitely has a lot of bumps. On the outside of the exit of two, there's one big one, which I actually saw (Keselowski) hit in the middle of the race. Turn four has a bump. The high side has bumps. The bottom side is bumpier. It just gives it character, and everybody has to race it. That's the nice part. … He who gets through it better will win it."

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Race Results

1. Joey Logano Toyota 200 Running

2. Kyle Busch Toyota 200 Running

3. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 200 Running

4. Brendan Gaughan (R) Chevrolet 200 Running

5. Justin Allgaier (R) Dodge 200 Running

6. Jason Leffler Toyota 200 Running

7. Michael Annett Toyota 200 Running

8. Burney Lamar Toyota 200 Running

9. Ricky Stenthouse Jr. Ford 200 Running

10. Kelly Bires Chevrolet 200 Running

11. Erik Darnell (R) Ford 199 Running

12. Trevor Bayne Toyota 199 Running

13. Scott Lagasse Jr. (R) Toyota 199 Running

14. Steve Wallace Chevrolet 199 Running

15. Kevin Conway Toyota 199 Running

16. Scott Wimmer Chevrolet 198 Running

17. Ken Butler Chevrolet 198 Running

18. Danny O'Quinn Jr. Chevrolet 198 Running

19. Mark Green Chevrolet 197 Running

20. Carl Edwards Ford 197 Running

21. Tony Raines Chevrolet 197 Running

22. Derrike Cope Dodge 197 Running

23. Jason Keller Ford 196 Running

24. Brandon Whitt Ford 196 Running

25. Morgan Shephard Chevrolet 195 Running

26. Shelby Howard Chevrolet 195 Running

27. Bobby Hamilton Jr. Dodge 192

28. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 182 Accident

29. Michael McDowell Toyota 168 Handling

30. Eric McClure Ford 154 Running

31. Stephen Leicht Chevrolet 137 Overheating

32. John Wes Townley Ford 83 Accident

33. Mike Harmon Chevrolet 77 Handling

34. Kenny Hendrick Dodge 75 Accident

35. Brian Keselowski Dodge 38 Brakes

36. Kevin Hamlin Chevrolet 35 Electrical

37. Kenny Wallace Chevrolet 19 Engine

38. Chris Horn Chevrolet 17 Oil Pump

39. Johnny Chapman Chevrolet 6 Overheating

40. Brad Baker Ford 2 Handling

41. Justin Hobgodd Chevrolet 2 Overheating

42. Chad Blount Toyota 1 Brakes

43. Stanton Barrett Chevrolet 1 Engine

Average Speed: 127.796

Time of Race: 2 hours, 20 minutes, 51 seconds

Margin of Victory: 1.624 seconds

Lead Changes: 16 among 7 drivers; Cautions: 8 for 31 laps

Attendance: 70,000

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