Joe Gibbs Racing owns Auto Club Speedway on Saturdays, and it looks to achieve some level of the same success on a Sunday, tomorrow.
Joey Logano scored the team's eighth consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series win at the facility, in the process ending the streak of four straight Nationwide regulars starting the season with wins. Logano's the first Sprint Cup regular to win in the Nationwide division this year.
“We were the class of the field all day,” Logano said. “They had plenty of shots to catch us. The car fell back on the restarts, and then came back to us after a few laps.”
Logano only restarted third, behind Trevor Bayne and Elliott Sadler, on different tire strategies. But with an assist from Brad Keselowski and a push through the field through turns one and two, Logano returned back to the lead.
Keselowski battled with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for second, with Stenhouse prevailing for the runner-up position.
“We were too tight, then we went too loose,” Stenhouse said. “There was a lot of three-four wide racing. The restarts were pretty fun, especially the last one as there were a couple guys with no (new) tires.”
“We started off really strong,” Keselowski added. “It was a great day in totality, even though I had the pit stop trouble where I slid through the box. We'd drove back to the front until that last yellow. The cars can draft really well here. It's one of the best Nationwide races of the year, every year.”
Brian Scott in fourth and rookie Austin Dillon completed the top five. Rookie Brad Sweet, Kenny Wallace, Kyle Busch, Sadler and Brendan Gaughan rounded out the top ten.
Points leader Sadler was one of the no-tire gamblers on the final stop and fell to ninth. He leads Stenhouse by 18 points.
Busch was another hard charger, coming from last on the grid to the lead – he'd started last after missing driver introductions. But he had major issues with the left rear on his final pit stop and dropped to 17th, eventually rebounding to eighth by the flag.
Danica Patrick, in her last race before she turns 30 on Sunday, finished 35th after an engine failure on lap 63.
After the first five races in five weekends to start the 2012 Nationwide season, the series has two weeks off before racing at Texas Motor Speedway Friday April 13, at 8 p.m. ET.