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NASCAR Cup Daytona 500

Daytona 500 pole-sitter Logano wanted a "fresh start" in 2024

Joey Logano and his No. 22 Penske team were looking to turn things around after what they considered a disappointing 2023 season and have wasted no time in seeing some results.

Joey Logano, Team Penske, Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang

On Wednesday night, Logano won the pole for Sunday’s Daytona 500, locking himself into the front row of the race. The pole is Logano’s first in the NASCAR Cup season opener, first for Penske and first for Ford Performance teams since the 2012 season.

When all is said and done, the pole itself may not mean all that much when it comes to how the actual race plays out, but the significance of the accomplishment did not go unnoticed by the two-time series champion.

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“That just shows the mental toughness from our whole team, that we can continue to stick together. We didn’t change anybody on our team this year from last year. I really think as a team we grow,” Logano, 33, explained.

“We got better and better towards the end of the year last year. Nobody sees that because you’re not in the playoffs, right? We were making gains, which is good.

“Then you have a moment where it ends, and the misery is over, you get a fresh start. That’s where we’re at now.”

Coming off his second series title in 2022, Logano was hoping to pick up where he left off last year. While he did win a race – at Atlanta early in the season and qualified him for the playoffs – it turned out to be his only trip to Victory Lane.

To compound his issues, Logano was denied a chance to defend his 2022 title when he was eliminated early in the 16-driver playoffs and failed to advance to Championship 4.

Then, Logano had to watch as his Penske teammate, Ryan Blaney, won two races in the playoffs, advanced to the Championship 4 and won his first series title.

Missing out on a repeat was admittedly a frustrating experience.

“We’re a pretty tough team, an experienced team that’s been around for a very long time at this point. I’ve been through kind of down points in my career before,” Logano said. “Doesn’t make it hurt less when you're going through it.

“I also know that a lot of times, more times than not, when we have an off year, the next year’s pretty damn strong. So, I feel like we can do that again.”

The one overwhelming advantage that comes from winning the pole for the 500, Logano said, is what it shows to your fellow competitors.

“When other drivers see that you have a fast car, I really think that speedway racing is all about reputation. If you have a fast car with a driver that understands the draft, cars will go with you more often,” he said.

“It makes you more confident to put this thing out in the wind. It’s going to pull a lane. It’s got the speed. You put it out front, it’s going to tow the lane forward. That’s what you want.

“As a driver, it puts you in a pretty good spot, you know? When I got the team that I have behind me, with a spotter, Coleman [Pressley], myself really understanding the draft well, our pit crew seems to be lights out right now in practice, things are looking really good.”

Joey Logano, Team Penske, Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang, Pole winner

Joey Logano, Team Penske, Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang, Pole winner

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

Don’t expect Logano to try to sit and protect his front row starting position in Thursday night’s dual qualifying races.

He said it took just a “two-second conversation” with crew chief Paul Wolfe Wednesday night to confirm they duo planned to race for the win in the race.

“The good thing is Paul and I both have the same approach to speedway racing, where we’re going racing,” Logano said. “Something happens, it happens. It’s not worth wrecking it, but you get the same attitude whether we qualify 5th or 15th. You don’t want to go to your backup car no matter what you do.

“I want to make sure our car is driving good. We’re going to go out there and be smart, but we’re going to race 'em. There's a trophy and 10 points. We’re going to race 'em.”

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