Joey Logano has successfully earned a shot at the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship and that has prompted a new focus – winning it.
Logano ended a year-long winless streak with a victory last weekend at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The win has all-but locked Logano in this season’s playoffs and with one burden lifted another takes its place.
But it’s a good one to have.
“We were in a slump (last season) for sure. We came out of that Richmond race (last year) and we had our penalty and then we crashed the next three weeks. We lost so many points those three weeks it was like, ‘Uh oh, what happened?’ ” Logano said Friday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
“When you don’t have speed in your car you tend to get caught up in more junk. You don’t score stage points. By the time we started figuring it out and getting better, the playoffs were starting and it was too late.”
Logano and his No. 22 Team Penske Ford team won’t have that problem to deal with this season.
Secured in the playoffs, the objectives now turn to get their team in the best position possible with the 10-race run to the championship begins this fall at Las Vegas.
“The goal has changed. When you start the season, it is always to win the championship which you have to take one step at a time. You have to get in the playoffs before you can win the championship,” he said.
“Now that we are in the playoffs we can focus on winning the championship. Earn stage points. Earn playoff points. Win races to help us get to Miami. That is the goal now.
“Get to Miami and fight for the championship. That is a good feeling.”
While a superspeedway win doesn’t translate much to the tracks on which most of the season is decided, the momentum doesn’t hurt. And Logano had already established some solid consistency even before his Talladega win – he was second in the series standings.
He had top-10 finishes at Atlanta, Las Vegas and Texas which should bode well for upcoming races at Kansas and Charlotte.
“We have always believed we can do it and are the best race team out there but when you don’t win it gets harder and harder to believe that,” Logano said.
“To go out there and make that happen is a big boost for us. It is all about carrying that momentum now.”