After extending his contract with Team Penske, Joey Logano can concentrate on performance.
DOVER, Del. – For Joey Logano, it’s a relief knowing where he’ll be racing for the next four years.
Team Penske announced on Thursday that the 24-year-old racer – and Chase contender – has re-signed with the company.
By securing Logano’s future, his contract status won't serve as a distraction particularly when he has greater concerns - such as the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
To be able to extend my relationship with Team Penske is a dream come true.
“It’s really nice because I’ve been through kind of the down parts of the sport and now we’ve obviously won a few races this year and it’s been a lot of fun,” Logano said. “To be able to extend my relationship with Team Penske is a dream come true. The last couple years have been really good. I feel like I’ve found myself a home over there. I feel like this 22 team is awesome.
“It’s a great team to work with, working with Todd (crew chief Gordon) and basically everyone at Team Penske, working with Brad (Keselowski), I feel like all of that put together has been very successful, so it makes sense to try to prolong that as long as possible and to be able to get this extension done and be able to focus in on the Chase is good.”
A fresh start
After five years with Joe Gibbs Racing, Logano is having a record season at Team Penske. Four of his seven career wins have been earned in 2014 – along with last weekend’s victory at his hometown track, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which automatically qualified Logano for the next win in the Chase.
But what was equally rewarding to the New Englander was his philanthropic activities leading into the weekend.
“It’s nice to be able to get that win in my home area,” Logano said. “We had a really big week leading into that. We had a couple foundation events. We opened up an extension basically to the Connection, which is a homeless community up in Middletown, CT, so that was a great week leading up to Loudon and then topping it off with a win was kind of a dream weekend that I’ll never forget.”
Despite being locked into the Contender Round, Logano is still “excited” about coming to Dover, “one of my favorite race tracks and a neat place to get around.” And with good reason, he has an average finish of sixth since he started driving the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford.
But having an extra season to jell with his new team and building a tighter relationship with Keselowski has been beneficial to Logano, particularly when he returns to tracks with more data to pull from.
We had to go through that learning curve and about the halfway point in the year when we started going to these race tracks a second time we had a notebook and we were able to start running better.
“I look at what we did last year and we went through a lot of adversity last year, from really the beginning of the season all the way to the halfway point of the season,” Logano said. “We had a lot of drama. We had a lot of new guys on the team. We had a new car chief, a new engineer, a new shock guy – a new driver obviously – so all of us gelling together took some time to figure out and it took some time for Todd and myself to understand each other and figure out what we needed at each race track. We had to go through that learning curve and about the halfway point in the year when we started going to these race tracks a second time we had a notebook and we were able to start running better.
“We weren’t at the caliber we are right now, but we were running better and we went into this season basically the same way. We have a couple races under our belt now and we’re going to these races for the third or fourth time and we’re just going off our notebook.”
A step up
Logano acknowledges that Team Penske has improved its cars as well. Not only is it his second season with the team, it’s Penske’s second season with Ford. And in just two years, Team Penske has vaulted to the top of the Ford pecking order.
“Team Penske has done a great job on bringing some really fast race cars to the race track and I think the more we all understand each other, the more I’m able to understand what Brad wants in his car and why I can’t run certain things that he’s running – it just doesn’t work for me – and understanding the difference between the two cars at each race track,” Logano added. “All that stuff kind of put together, I think, is what made us run better this year compared to last.”
Logano could not be blossoming at a better time. He feels it’s a “huge advantage” to be so young, yet have six seasons of experience at the Sprint Cup level. And with the support of his team and the confidence they instill in him, Logano believes this team is ready to make a title run.
I feel like my head is in the right spot.
“I feel like as a team we’ve done what we need to do to get to this point to be able to have a shot at it right now,” Logano said. “We’ve got to keep plugging away to get all the way to Homestead. We’ve got a long ways to go. We’ve got to keep our heads down and keep booking along with it, but, for me personally, I feel like my head is in the right spot. I feel like we’ve been attacking these weekends in the right way. I feel like Todd and myself have been working together better than ever and we need to keep doing that, and I think the whole 22 team has been doing it.
“I know I can’t do it on my own, and I know I have the guys behind me that have the same attitude as me and want it just as bad as me, and that’s why I feel we have a good shot at it.”