IRWINDALE, Calif. – Joey Logano won Saturday's NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, but a new star was born in runner-up Sergio Pena.
With the finish line in sight at the half-mile Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, Logano captured the point and led the final 12 laps en route to his second career victory in this event.
But the 16-year-old Pena, who secured his ride for this race a mere two days earlier by winning a qualifier against three other Drive for Diversity participants, kept pace throughout the evening, swapping the lead multiple times with the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year.
Initially on the restarts, it was easy to beat (Pena) and I didn't have to do nothing," Logano said. "As I kept going I had to pull out all my tricks and try to find a little bit here and there to get him on the restarts.
"(Pena) had a great car. Once he got by me he was gone. And I knew that from the first lap of this race that I would have my hands full the whole time."
After winning his ride for the weekend, Pena's fairy-tale weekend continued when he won the pole for the race Friday night and ended with his dream result.
"It's just an honor to run with (Logano). Hes been a role model for me for so long, a young Cup driver, what kid doesn't look up to that?" Pena said. "This has been a dream come true, this whole weekend.
"I'm going to carry this over for the rest of the season and for more seasons to come. This is a good beginning and I just hope it doesn't slow down at all.
"Taking second place from Joey Logano is good for me any day."
Last year, Logano was involved in a controversial finish where he won the race but was immediately penalized for rough driving and the victory was awarded to Matt Kobyluck.
Kobyluck, himself a two-time winner of the Showdown, hung on with the leaders all race long and got past Pena on the final restart but lost the position and finished third.
Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Matt DiBenedetto and Andrew Myers rounded out the top five while Eric Holmes, David Mayhew, Eddie MacDonald, Paulie Harraka and former Sprint Cup regular Steve Park completed the top 10.
The Showdown, nicknamed the Daytona 500 of short-track racing, is a showcase of the top talent in NASCAR's development series and includes champions of the major touring and weekly series.
One such driver who got to showcase his talent alongside Pena was Ryan Truex. The younger brother of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Martin Truex Jr. started the race at the rear of the field because of an engine change earlier in the weekend but worked his way into the top 10 by lap 113. The day did not end well for him, however, as he got spun out on lap 170 and was involved in a multicar crash in the waning laps to finish 26th.
Expect to see more of the younger Truex in the future as he will compete in six Nationwide Series races after turning 18 in March as well as defend his K&N Pro Series East championship which he won as a rookie last year.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular David Gilliland, himself a past winner of this event (2005), was running in the top 10 throughout the first 98 laps of the race but he experienced electrical issues and stalled to bring out the caution on lap 100. Although his team changed the battery on his car, it was not enough to fix the problem, ending his day and resulting in a 38th-place finish.