No Surprise Ending in This David vs. Goliath Battle by Bob Dillner
Logano Wins Big in Phoenix West Series Event
Scores of teams tried, but nobody could beat the Joe Gibbs team of Joey Logano at Phoenix. (51 Photos)
In the Biblical account of David vs. Goliath, the mighty Philistine warrior, Goliath, is beaten by a common Israelite man, David. The fable is often used in sports when speaking of the weak, or underdog, beating the strong, or favorite, in an event. That same scenario was being played out in the Arizona desert Thursday night during the NASCAR West Series event at Phoenix Int’l Raceway.
There was one twist in the scenario this time though – Goliath won.
If you know Joey Logano, you might think he’s grown nearly a foot during the past year, but even so his lanky 16-year-old body is not a direct parallel to the mighty Goliath. However, his well-funded Joe Gibbs Racing team was a giant among common teams at Phoenix as it swept the top-two spots in the West Series race. Logano won in his first NASCAR Touring Series event and former Hickory Motor Speedway Limited Late Model standout and teammate Marc Davis finished second.
“That’s pretty cool; that’s awesome” Logano said of JGR’s one-two finish after victory lane ceremonies. “Green-white-checker and we’re starting door-to-door; that was great for Joe Gibbs Racing. We (Marc Davis and Joey) go back to the Legends Car and Bandolero days. We’ve known each other for a while and raced against each other for a while. I got on his radio there before the last restart and talked to him a little bit and he came back and talked to me on mine. It was fun because we were messing around a little bit.”
Joe Gibbs Racing was not the only giant in the field Thursday night; a whole army of Goliaths were present during the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup weekend at PIR. Richard Childress Racing had WoO Dirt Late Model champ Tim McCreadie and Ryan Foster entered in the event, while Ginn Racing had Jesus Hernandez competing. That wasn’t all - there was also plenty of other Cup assistance being felt up and down pit road.
Yet, the Davids in the crowded army of Goliaths gave a valiant fight. In fact, if it were not for mechanical issues with a couple of series troopers, Goliath may not have won this monumental battle.
Andrew Myers triumphed in last year’s West Series quest at PIR and charged to the front of the field early in the 150-lap affair. He pitted for fresh slicks and once again muscled his way to the front when his fight to defend his throne came abruptly to a halt.
“We got black-flagged for an oil leak,” said Myers, who finished ninth to open the season in Texas a couple weeks ago. “I guess our breather on our oil tank got loose and it started pumping oil out. We went down about seven laps and then just hung out at the back until it was over.
“I think we had a car to win. It was fast, so this is pretty devastating. We are heartbroken. We worked real hard to get this car together. We won here last year and wanted to do it again so it’s upsetting, but we’ll be there all season-long going for the championship.”
After Myers succumbed to the “West War,” it was David Mayhew’s turn to lead the troops. In fact, with 20-to-go, not even Logano thought he would be able to overtake the series newcomer.
“We pitted later to see if we can get some new tires at the end and we came through the field like crazy, but we got to second and we kinda stayed there,” explained Logano. “We were about the same speed as the 26 (leader, David Mayhew). He was running the top line and that made him real hard to pass because he would get that momentum off the corner. It would have been real close if he was still in it. The cards just fell in our hands tonight; everything went perfect.”
Mayhew wasn’t “in it” at the end due to his engine failing near the conclusion of the race. It was a tough break for the low-buck Mayhew, whose crew used borrowed uniforms for their over-the-wall efforts.
Andrew Myers (Top) and David Mayhew (Bottom) contended until they suffered from an oil leak and an engine problem respectively.
“It’s just devastating,” said Mayhew as he watched Logano continue to the checkers on the NEXTEL Vision screen at the track. “The guys have worked so hard. This is our only motor and our only car and it blew up big. We’re done for a while.
“At first I was just hoping it was a plug wire, something that made us lose a cylinder. It still looked like we could ride around and finish second, even on seven cylinders, but then it just quit all of a sudden. This is the new spec engine, so hopefully we can get back on the track in the next couple months, nothing short term; we are definitely done for a while.
“We were beating some of the best guys out there tonight and that felt good,” continued Mayhew. “We are way underfunded; with just a few little guys helping us out. Like I said, it was our only car and only engine. We borrowed the tranny and borrowed other stuff; it’s going to be a tough one to take.”
But Mayhew’s bitter pill to swallow was Logano’s lucky charm. And we don't want to take away from Logano’s march to victory lane. The 16-year-old kid, in his first big-time NASCAR race, showed the talent and patience that people like Mark Martin have been bragging about for years.
At 15, Logano won his second-ever USAR Hooters Pro Cup race. Now he has won in his first NASCAR West Series event. Up next, the NASCAR Busch East opener, where the future superstar will be a regular this year.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. But I go into every race like I’m expecting to win,” said Logano. “I’m highly, highly competitive; I mean, I can be playing a game of checkers and get ticked off when I lose. I came to this place thinking we were going to win and that’s what people expect of you, especially when you have a team like this behind you. But at the same time, you can only go out and do the best you can do. If it’s winning or coming in eighth, sometimes the cards are just going to fall where they do. I’m glad they fell this way for us tonight though.”
By the way, the top "David" across the line was series regular Mike David in third with fellow series competitor Jeff Barkshire in fourth. Part of the "Goliath" troops, Jesus Hernandez rounded out the top-five.
Logano celebrated with a smokeshow after the race, (Top) and then with teammate and pal Davis in victory lane. (Bottom)