Sunday, January 31, 2010

Joey Logano Wins NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR

The 7th running of the Toyota All-Star Showdown again gathered the best of the NASCAR touring series drivers from the east, west of the United States, Mexico and even from Canada (two-time and defending NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Champion Andrew Ranger). Held at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale short track, the All-Star Showdown has proven instrumental to allowing developing drivers wishing to build their racing resumes.

This year, the race also featured the appearance of touring series alumni Joey Logano and David Gilliland, two drivers who are now pursuing the glitzier competition of the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series thanks to a prior victory in the Toyota All-Star showdown. Preparing to start his sophomore season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series in just three weeks with the 2010 Daytona 500, the Irwindale, California event was Joey Logano's first nationally-significant introduction in 2007 winning the race at only 16 years of age. Logano and Gilliland's presence somewhat disturbs the race's true goal to highlight talent of the smaller NASCAR series. However, with only two drivers, the Toyota All-Star Showdown is nowhere near as saturated by top-level NASCAR ringers.

Confusing the construction of the Toyota All-Star Showdown, race debuts were also slated for European RACECAR series driver Billy Boucenna (will failed to qualify for the 225 lap feature) and NASCAR's Drive for Diversity latest driver Sergio Pena. A 16 year old high school junior from Winchester, Virginia Pena gained his ride through winning a competition with three of his teammates amongst the driver diversity program. Though the reason admitting the rookie driver into the race wasn't completely to the spirit of a so-called 'All-Star Showdown', Pena's performance in Friday qualifying quickly saw the teenager become a star within stars. Driving a #4 Chevrolet for Revolution Racing, Pena set a time that clinched the pole for the Saturday main event beating Joey Logano #25 Home Depot Toyota.

As the green flag dropped, it became clear that the cars starting in the front-row had all the stamina to win the race. Holding tight with the hotly-promoted phenom Logano, Sergio Pena rarely left more than a car length to the Toyota through the race's first 98-lap segment. While Joey Logano was able to hold off the debuting 16 year old, Pena determination on the inside of Logano finally paid off early through the race restart on lap 106.

Pena placed his Chevy out front leading his first 18 laps in a K&N Pro Series stock car. Logano, having been raced hard by the newcomer, would exploit Pena's only visible weakness coming on the multitude of restarts resulting from a total 15 caution periods in the 225-lap race. Surviving a lap 117 restart where the Home Depot Toyota aggressively hunted the #4 Chevrolet, Logano did break through on lap 134 placing Pena back behind him. While the two drivers would end up being only leaders of the race, Ryan Truex and defending All-Star race winner of 2009 Matt Kobyluck emerged past the midway point as additional competition.

With Sergio Pena never letting up on the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year, he once again gained the event's lead with his stock car on 178th lap, leading the field to the final 25 lap sprint to the end. Amongst this final 25 lap distance, which was extended by a red flag, Kobyluck and Logano charged Pena on the restart losing the led to Logano and second to Matt Kobyluck. After losing the positions on the race track, Sergio Pena regathered himself. He retook the 2nd place from Kobyluck and set sights on Joey Logano for what would be the ultimate underdog story of 2010. Bringing the good fight, Pena's efforts for victory could not overcome Logano and his Toyota in taking the 2010 Toyota All-Star Showdown.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR

the fairest way to describe the match up would mirror the first Rocky movie. A recent unknown competitor, while ambitious and talented, receives the break only few athletes could even comprehend. Expected only to complete well considering the seasoned stars around him, Pena rises to the occasion proving to have not only the skills but the heart to triumph. Reminiscent to the ending of the film, the challenger loses the match with the veteran (though the veteran is 3 years older than Pena). However, Sergio Pena wins not only the fans in Irwindale and watching on television, but likely the headlines yet to be written for his future in NASCAR competition. Expect to hear more about Sergio Pena in the NASCAR's K&N Pro Series through 2010.

2010 Toyota All-Star Showdown Results

1. #25 Joey Logano
2. #4 Sergio Pena
3. #40 Matt Kobyluck
4. #98 Matt DiBenedetto
5. #77 Andrew Myers
6. #20 Eric Holmes
7. #17 David Mayhew
8. #71 Eddie MacDonald
9. #12 Paulie Harraka
10. #35 Steve Park

15. #19 Andrew Ranger
25. #2 Daryl Harr
26. #00 Ryan Truex
32. #50 Auggie Vidovich
37. #31 Sean Caisse
38. #89 David Gilliland

No comments:

Post a Comment