2012 Season Comes Down to Fuel Mileage
But just as Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s/Interstate Batteries® Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), looked as if he might cruise to his second win of the season, the race went 105 laps without a caution, forcing the No. 18 team to pit for fuel with 13 laps to go. While Busch rallied from 10th to fourth over the final 12 laps, he had to settle for a solid, but heartbreaking, fourth-place finish.
“I think I’ve said it the last five weeks – that’s our year – that’s our year again tonight,” said Busch, who earned his seventh top-five and eighth top-10 finish of the final 10 weeks of the season. “We had an amazing racecar. These guys work so hard all year long, and it’s just a shame that we’re not able to come out here and be able to put it to victory lane like we should and like we know how to do. And we executed and showed all day long we could. This M&M’s Toyota was awesome. I can’t say enough about them. Just hats off to all of our guys that work so hard.”
It was the ninth race this year in which Busch led the most laps but came up short at the end.
“The finish is what it is,” he said. “All I know is that we showed great pride and great courage the way that we ran in the last few weeks and that we didn’t give up. We just came through and worked really hard. The guys gave me an awesome car today.”
Jeff Gordon won the Ford EcoBoost 400 to score his 87th career Sprint Cup victory. Brad Keselowski won the 2012 Sprint Cup Championship.
Hamlin represented JGR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and came into the final race of the 10-race Chase in fifth place among the 12 Chase drivers. Hamlin ended the season sixth in the standings with 2,329 points.
Busch finished the year 13th in the standings with 1,133 points, the highest non-Chase driver. Logano finished 17th in the standings with 965 points, the fifth-highest non-Chase driver.
18 Team Wins Nationwide Owner’s Championship
The No. 18 team for Joe Gibbs Racing won the Nationwide Series Owner’s Championship on Saturday. JGR has now earned four Nationwide Series Owner’s Championships, which ties the current record for Owner’s Championships in this series.
Throughout 2012, the No. 18 car earned seven victories, 22 top fives, 18 top 10s and six poles. Joey Logano won the first victory for the No. 18 car from the pole at the Auto Club Speedway on March 24. Other significant victories included sweeping both of the Nationwide Series races of the year at Dover International Speedway and winning the November race at Phoenix from the pole.
Earning this championship required a true team effort. The No. 18 team included six drivers, nine sponsors and several teams of crew chiefs and pit crews. Drivers for the No. 18 car included Denny Hamlin, Drew Herring, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Michael McDowell and Ryan Truex. Sponsors included Dollar General, FedEx, GameStop, Grime Boss, Interstate Batteries, Pizza Ranch, Sport Clips, Trans-Lux and Z-Line Designs.
Congratulations to the 18 team!
- Dominant Car, But Pain at the Pump (blogbattery.com)
- Busch Dominates But Settles for Third at Phoenix (blogbattery.com)
- JGR No. 18 wins Nationwide Owner’s Championship (joegibbsracing.com)