Joey Logano Shows Patience In Greenville BES Opener by Penny Aicardi
Logano Too Strong for Caisse In Late Restarts for Second Straight Grand National Win
Joey Logano has gotten quite used to NASCAR victory lane this year. (Ken Spring photos)
“Go fast, and turn left!”
That was Joey Logano’s strategy for the Greased Lightning 150 at Greenville-Pickens (SC) Speedway Saturday night: a method that proved to be very successful.
Logano, Joe Gibbs Racing’s 16-year-old development sensation, established himself as a contender in 2007 by setting the pole, leading the most laps, and winning his second straight Grand National Division race, and first-ever Busch East Series start.
“That’s pretty cool,” said Logano of his performance. “My crew chief told me to just cruise and it worked out great. I’m sure it’s not going to be like this all year. Wins are hard to come by so you have to take them when you can. This track suits my style. I like flat, wore out tracks like this. I knew coming in here that we would have a shot at the win.”
Despite the fact that Caisse led nearly the first half of the race, Logano took the lead from him at lap 73 and never looked back en route to the checkered flag. The duo battled through lapped traffic and a string of caution periods before Logano opened up the throttle on his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Oil Chevrolet.
Not even a red flag at lap 115 slowed Logano’s momentum. After nearly twenty minutes of down-time, Logano jumped back in the car and proved he was as strong as ever. At the checkers, the Connecticut native had a four-and-a-half second lead over the rest of the field.
“Our car was good. It came off the corner straight and it was fast. I wasn’t really worried (about Sean Caisse). I knew he was going to run me hard, but a run off the corner helped us a lot,” he said. “With five laps to go I opened up the reigns a little bit and pulled her away.”
Logano’s blistering fast lap of 87.841 mph in qualifying set a new track record and earned him his first Busch Pole Award before his stellar performance in the race.
“We were second quickest in practice and I thought we would be around fifth in qualifying,” Logano admitted. “I was out there and I heard Sean (Caisse) ran a fifty-something so I took another tug at my belt and said ‘here we go.’ I went out there and gave it all she had, and that was all she had for sure. We picked up six or seven tenths from practice.”
Logano’s two wins have sealed the young driver in the 2007 edition of the Toyota All-Star Showdown.
Caisse held off late-race challenges by Bryon Chew to finish second.
“The race with (Bryon Chew) was really the only race for me,” said Caisse. “My hat is off to Bryon because he raced me clean. He could have given me the bumper at anytime, and he didn’t. I’m thankful for that. He showed me a lot of respect.”
Chew tried to take the inside groove away in the final 10 laps, but had to back out of it time and time again before settling into third.
“When I came here and tested I was very happy with that, but when I came back I wasn’t sure how I was going to be,” said Chew. “I was a little faster than Sean was and I got underneath him a couple times going in, and he just came right down on me. It was either wreck him or finish third and be happy with it. It was a great race, and we had a great car, but we really didn’t have anything for the 20 car. It was a good start for the season.”
Sean Caisse (#44) showed the way at Greenville early on, but he was no match for Logano's #20 late.
Most drivers agreed that after Logano’s performance Saturday night, everyone in the series will have to step up their game.
“Joey was in a league of his own,” said Caisse. “I don’t know what he’s doing, but we’ve got to do our homework and figure it out. He did a hell of a job wheeling the car, and he ran me clean. Congratulations to him and his team, but we have to do something because he was a lot quicker than us in that race.”
Peyton Sellers and Rogelio Lopez rounded out the top-five.