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Last-minute sponsorship sends Joey Logano, No. 20 to Nashville

Joey Logano
(Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Joey Logano (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Getty Images for NASCAR

By Lee Montgomery
Special to the Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

Joey Logano and the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team were going to skip Saturday’s Nashville 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Nashville Superspeedway, despite Logano’s having two poles and a win there and the team leading the series’ owners points.

But a sponsor joined the No. 20 for Nashville only recently, and the team decided to continue its run for the Nationwide owners championship.

“That is huge, because this team has been running good all year long and to let the owners championship points lead slip away because we didn’t have sponsorship would have been tough to swallow,” Logano said. “Times are tough now and everyone is having trouble finding sponsorships, so to be able to have a company step up at the last minute because they want to see this team continue and chase that title is huge. So I can’t thank Harvest Investments and enough. Hopefully, we can repay them for doing this with a win and an even bigger points lead.”

Thanks mostly to Logano, with an assist from JGR Sprint Cup teammate Denny Hamlin, the No. 20 team leads the owners points by 13 over JGR’s No. 18 team and driver Kyle Busch. That’s quite an accomplishment, given Busch has four victories in the Nationwide Series this year.

Hamlin finished seventh in his turn in the No. 20 at Las Vegas, and Logano has finished seventh or better in five of his six starts, coming home 12th in the season-opener at Daytona. Three of those finishes were in the top five, including last weekend’s second-place effort at Talladega.

“I’m excited to go to Nashville because I’ve always run well there, but more than anything, I’m excited for the guys on the team,” Logano said. “They were really bummed at not going to Nashville, especially after the way we’ve been improving week to week with a pretty much brand-new team. After Talladega, when we looked at the points and saw we had increased the points lead, it was a downer.

“Then, when things came along, I told them, ‘Let’s get it done.’ So this is a big shot in the arm for those guys and might just give them the added push to get this No. 20 Toyota back into victory lane.”

Logano has made three starts at Nashville’s 1.33-mile concrete track, winning a guitar the track awards race winners in 2009. He crashed while running in the top five in 2008 and finished eighth there last year.

“I love Nashville. It’s just a great place to go,” Logano said. “I really wish the Cup cars would race there, but since they don’t, I would hate to miss a race there in the Nationwide deal. I’ve already got one of those guitars, but I’m ready for another one. And we’ve run well there every year we’ve been there. ... The results might not show how strong we are, but it’s probably one of my better tracks. That makes me even more confident going into the weekend as well.”

Fast facts

What: Nashville 300
Where: Nashville Superspeedway
When: Saturday, 3:15 p.m. Eastern
TV: ESPN, 2 p.m. Eastern
Radio: MRN/Sirius Satellite Ch. 128
Track layout: 1.333-mile oval
Distance: 225 laps/300 miles
Qualifying: Saturday, 12:05 p.m. Eastern
2010 winner: Kevin Harvick
2010 polesitter: Joey Logano
Points leaders: 1. Jason Leffler, 233; 2. Justin Allgaier, 231; 3. Elliott Sadler, 228; 4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 225; 5. Reed Sorenson, 224; 6. Aric Almirola, 222; 7. Trevor Bayne, 221; 8. Brian Scott, 206; 9. Kenny Wallace, 184; 10. Joe Nemechek, 169.