Joey Logano has blossomed with Team Penske

Teamwork will be the key to NASCAR title for Team Penske.

Joey Logano has blossomed with Team Penske
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Race winner Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Race winner Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Race winner Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Joey Logano, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Joey Logano, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Joey Logano, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Joey Logano, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Penske president Tim Cindric
Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Ford and Joey Logano, Penske Racing Ford
Roger Penske
Joey Logano, Penske Racing Ford
Race winner Joey Logano is congratulated by teammate Brad Keselowski
Race winner Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford takes the win
Polesitter Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Race winner Joey Logano, Penske Racing Ford
Listen to this article

Before Joey Logano qualified second for Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400, he got his game on at Victory Lanes in Mooresville, N.C.

During the media event last month, Logano’s team knocked off Kasey Kahne’s squad. Although Kahne’s score of 169 topped the contestants, Logano claimed his tally of 125 was “good for me”.

Since Team Logano won the bowling match, Pocono Raceway kicked in a nice contribution to the Joey Logano Foundation.

“It’s cool that they threw in the charity part of it,” Logano told Motorsport.com. “A lot of times you’re just promoting a race, but any time you can add money to your charity, that’s good for drivers – especially when you can win.”

ON TRACK

Winning is something that Logano has become accustomed to since moving to Team Penske. In his first two years in the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford, the 24-year-old Middleton, Conn.-native has earned three of his five career wins and is having one of his best seasons since he was promoted to the Sprint Cup Series by Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008.

Logano acknowledged that he’s never been happier than he currently is with Team Penske.

“When you enjoy going to work, that’s what it’s all about,” Logano said. “That’s when you perform your best.”

INTO THE DEEP END

Logano was still being home schooled when he was thrust into the Cup series as Tony Stewart’s replacement at JGR. While there was a lot of pressure for “Slice Bread” to perform, the driver says the expectations are just as high when you race for Roger Penske.

“I wouldn’t say there’s no pressure here – especially when you have Roger Penske on the radio you want to succeed for him,” Logano said. “It’s different. I wouldn’t say I had more pressure for me at Gibbs or anyone but more pressure on me there, maybe I just wasn’t ready for it.

“I was very young – 18-years-old. I had a half year of Nationwide experience under me and they threw me in there. I was like, ‘Ok, here we go’. It’s hard to overcome that - very hard to overcome that. It was tough.

It’s hard to lead a team at 18-years-old.

Joey Logano on his experience at JGR

“It’s hard to lead a team at 18-years-old that has won a couple of championship and has been together forever and you don’t have the results to back it up. How do you fill that hole? It starts to snowball the wrong way on you and you’re just trying to stay afloat.”

Logano’s early expectations were clouded by his immediate success on the Nationwide tour. In his first three starts with JGR’s NNS program he won two poles and his first race. When Logano failed to equal those results in Cup, he refused to give up. He worked on what he could control and didn’t let the critics destroy him.

“When I started, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know,” said Logano, who has accumulated 21 NNS wins. “At 18, I thought I knew everything. I got in a Nationwide car – a good Nationwide car -- and I won races right off the bat. Like everyone else, I felt I had it all figured out – and BOOM! I didn’t.

“So what do you do? I started sectioning everything out. I chose the departments I felt needed the most work first and try to get something closer. My finally year (at JGR) was an ok year. It was decent – a little inconsistent but decent. But I needed that next step. I felt like I peaked out over there. I needed that next step.

“I needed a new life. I wanted to come to Penske as the man I wanted to be not the 15-year-old kid I was when I went to Gibbs.”

I needed a new life. I wanted to come to Penske as the man I wanted to be not the 15-year-old kid I was when I went to Gibbs.

Joey Logano

MOVING FORWARD

Logano has persevered and evolved into one of the most consistent young racers on the Sprint Cup tour. He credits crew chief Todd Gordon and the core management group at Team Penske – President Tim Cindric, V.P. of Operations Mike Nelson and Competition Director Travis Geisler -- for elevating his game.

But Logano admits that no one at Penske pushes him as hard as his teammate Brad Keselowski.

“All those guys work well together,” Logano said. “They’re all racers – they’ve all been through it and working with Brad has been a good thing, too. It’s great to have a teammate that wants you there. He talks about it, too about how we push each other.

“When I first got there, he pushed me along a lot. To see some of the things that he did. I was like, ‘Huh? OK, I can pick up my game here. Here’s another area I didn’t know I was missing it. Let me pick it up here.’ Then he finds something and I find something and we keep pushing each other to top the next level.”

ATOP THE SPEED CHART

Nowhere has that been more apparent than this season with the new knock-out qualifying system. It’s been Team Penske on Fridays – then everyone else. Kesolowski, who starts third on Sunday, has an average qualifying effort of seventh – best on the Cup tour. Logano is second with ninth-place average start.

In the 20 races since NASCAR initiated the new format for time trials at Phoenix, Keselowski has advanced to the final round 15 times, Logano 17. The Richmond race started on points due to rain. Keselowski has started on the front row in 10 races, Logano six. Logano says the key is “fast cars”.

Currently, Logano has two wins this season and is currently ninth in the point standings – his position marred by a part and engine failure as well as an unfortunate run-in with Morgan Shepherd at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

EYES ON THE CUP

While both drivers will have a shot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Logano feels that teamwork between the Nos. 2 and 22 will be the key to one of the drivers challenging for the title.

“We’ve done a good job,” Logano said. “Last year I felt like we had to catch up to the 2 car but now I feel we’re equal. We made the Chase last year. It’s big. But we have to keep it going. We have to keep working as close as we do – two teams. Not just the drivers, the whole teams. We have to make sure we do that. That’s a priority of ours because we are a small team.

“As a team we have to keep developing our equipment. That’s a given. And we have to have momentum into the Chase to try to win this thing. As a two-car team we need to be tight. We got to be out there. I think we have a shot at the championship. I think we can do it. We’re going to push each other along until one of us does it. If I can’t win the championship, I hope to God that Brad does it. And that’s the attitude we have. We don’t look at it and say, ‘Ugh, we didn’t have the best day and Brad won.’ We’re happy for each other.

"That’s good for the company. When Brad runs well, I run well. It kind of goes together. As long as we stay close and stay tight we can keep moving forward.”

shares
comments
Richard Petty helps 98-year-old fan realize a dream
Previous article

Richard Petty helps 98-year-old fan realize a dream

Next article

NASCAR Notebook: Biffle determined to lead Roush resurgence

NASCAR Notebook: Biffle determined to lead Roush resurgence
Load comments
The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team Prime

The ex-F1 driver taking on NASCAR with a new team

Saddled with uncompetitive Minardi machinery, Tarso Marques didn't manage to score points in his three partial seasons of Formula 1. But now the Brazilian has the chance to show what he can do in NASCAR, and explains the story of his comeback with new Cup Series entrant Team Stange

NASCAR Cup
Apr 13, 2022
The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car Prime

The early benefits and challenges of NASCAR's Next Gen car

NASCAR’s new stock car generation is encouraging an influx of fresh blood into its top tier. But there are concerns that parts are in short supply as the entire paddock tries to build up stocks at the same time

NASCAR Cup
Feb 22, 2022
How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style Prime

How Penske's rookie sensation opened NASCAR's new era in style

After holding his nerve and hip-checking his teammate on the run to the line, Austin Cindric made a perfect start to life as a full-timer in the NASCAR Cup Series by winning the Daytona 500. Here's how the Penske Ford man emerged first across the line in the first points-scoring race for the much-anticipated Next Generation cars

NASCAR Cup
Feb 21, 2022
Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season Prime

Six key themes to follow in the 2022 NASCAR Cup season

There are plenty of uncertainties ahead of the 2022 NASCAR Cup season as an all-new fleet of cars take to the track for the first time. Ahead of this weekend's Daytona 500, our experts explain what you need to know

NASCAR Cup
Feb 17, 2022
How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival Prime

How NASCAR had to learn a harsh lesson ahead of Next Gen arrival

The NASCAR Cup kicks off with the Daytona 500 this weekend, but a major engine overhaul and a subsequent mountain of work has been required to be ready for the arrival of the Next Gen cars.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2022
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021