The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series head home to the Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend for an action packed weekend at the 1.5-mile quad-oval.
While the driver of the No.20 GameStop Toyota isn’t from NC, Joey Logano will be looking to make himself at home in victory lane for the first time at the speedway and for the sixth time this year.
If he is able to do that, Logano will not only pull off the hat trick (he won Kansas two weeks ago and California last weekend), but he’ll join some impressive company as only the ninth driver to win three straight races in Nationwide Series history.
Teammate Kyle Busch was the last to pull it off, when last year he won at Texas, Phoenix, and Mexico City. Some others that have completed the hat trick are Mark Martin, Harry Gant, and Sam Ard.
The 19-year-old has a great chance to join his teammate if he’s able to once again best the field.
“I don’t see why it can’t happen,” Logano said after last weekend’s victory when asked about making it three in a row at Lowe’s.
Working in Logano’s favor is that when it comes to racetracks that are more than a mile in length, he’s mastered how to capture the checkered flag at those tracks. All five of his wins thus far this season have come on racetracks larger than a mile: Nashville (1.33 miles), Kentucky (1.5 miles), Chicagoland (1.5 miles), Kansas (1.5 miles), and California (2 miles).
Logano’s first career win last year was at Kentucky. “Our mile-and-a-half program here on the Nationwide side is unbelievable,” he said.
Friday night he’ll be cruising around the 1.5 mile of the Lowe’s Motor Speedway, a track that not only suits his driving style, but he’ll have the comfort of knowing that he’s been successful at Lowe’s the few times he’s been there.
In two races at the track Logano has an average finish of 9.5 and has led 32 laps. Those came in this race last year, his first race at the track, where he finished 14th and Kyle Busch won.
Earlier in May of this year, Logano captured a top-five before the rain came and Mike Bliss was declared the winner. Friday night Bliss will also be one of Logano’s toughest competitors for the win as Bliss will be back behind the wheel of the No.11 Toyota, the care that he drove to a second place finish in Dover.
Other contenders will no doubt be those holding the second and third place spots in the championship points at present—Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski. Others will include Ryan Newman in Kevin Harvick’s No.33, Kasey Kahne in the No.43, and Tony Stewart, who is making his first and only appearance in the No.5 for JR. Motorsports.
But don’t be surprised if Logano is declared the winner Friday night after doing something that he’s grown accustomed to lately—beating Kyle Busch.
Busch heads to Lowe’s as the defending winner of the Dollar General 300, and he’ll be looking to gain back the points that he lost last weekend when having to step out of the car because of illness. Fellow teammate Denny Hamlin took over for him and was involved in a wreck, earning Busch a 31st place finish. Overall, Busch lost 90 points to Carl Edwards in the Championship race.
The last time Busch was in the car and healthy, at Kansas, Logano passed him with three laps to go and got the victory.
Not only was it the fourth time that Logano has beaten Busch, but it was the third time that he’s done so by passing the No.18 with less than ten laps to go. In the Nationwide Series Joey Logano has Kyle Busch’s number and on Friday he’ll look to ring it again.
Logano will also be looking for points of a different kind.
While Busch is trying to win the driver's championship for Joe Gibbs Racing, Logano is in position to help Toyota win their second consecutive manufacturer’s championship. The No.20 currently leads the standings with 205 points—14 points over Chevrolet with just five races remaining including Charlotte this weekend.
A lot will be on the line this weekend for the young driver as he looks to accomplish something that he’s never done before in any series he’s raced in.
“Every time I come over into the Nationwide car I feel like I’ve got a shot at winning no matter what,” Logano said at California. “Even if we start practice and we’re struggling, I never lose doubt that we’re gonna get this thing right.”
In that same press conference Logano said that he hopes the team brings him another awesome car to Lowe’s as they did in California.
That prompted crew chief Dave Rogers to say they were bringing Logano’s favorite car to the track, in which Logano just laughed, smiled and said “We’ll be just fine.”
Photo Credit: M Brian Ladner