September 1, 2007.
That’s the last time a Joe Gibbs Racing entry failed to win a Nationwide Series race at Auto Club Speedway – though Denny Hamlin came close that day with a third-place finish.
Kyle Busch joined the organization for the next season and, well … the rest is history. JGR has since reeled off seven straight wins on the two-mile Fontana oval and will be gunning for its eighth straight in Saturday’s Royal Purple 300.
It won’t be Busch behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota this time around. He’s now an owner-driver in the series and is entered in his own Kyle Busch Motorsports Camry. JGR has handed the keys to Joey Logano, who’ll be making his second 2012 start in the “18” car. He led 119 laps and finished fourth last weekend at Bristol, and welcomes the tour’s return to Southern California.
“It’s a pretty cool racetrack,” Logano said of the ACS oval. “There’s so much room out there to race and you can draft down the straightaways.”
In six previous Nationwide Series starts at Auto Club Speedway, Logano has six top-10 finishes – including a victory in 2009 that contributed to JGR’s current seven-race winning streak. He started fourth and finished seventh in last year’s Royal Purple 300 … and says restarts are the key to success at Fontana.
“A good restart is huge,” Logano said. “When the flag goes in the air, people are four- and five-wide. You can gain or lose five spots before you get through the first turn … not the first lap, but the first turn. You can make up a lot of spots on the restarts by trying to go where other cars aren’t.”