The four drivers battling for the championship tomorrow were identified last week in Martinsville, but one driver has been known for much longer than that. Logano punched his ticket at the first opportunity when he won the playoff race at Las Vegas. That victory put him in a very familiar position.
Ever since NASCAR adopted the current playoff format in 2014, Logano has advanced to the championship four round in every even-numbered year. He finished 4th in 2014, runner-up in 2016, won the title in 2018, and was 3rd in 2020. He has finished in all four possible positions, with the hopes of taking the top spot once again tomorrow evening.
The Penske driver has 30 career Cup victories on his resume, which includes the prestigious Daytona 500. Another championship would make Logano the 17th person to win multiple Cup titles, joining Kyle Busch as the only active driver on that list. Joey understands what winning this title would do for his legacy, and what it would mean for Roger Penske.
The organization began the year with a Daytona 500 win with rookie Austin Cindric. Over on the IndyCar side of things, the team won the series title with Will Power. Last year, Penske failed to win a championship or a “500” in either series. They have never won a NASCAR and IndyCar championship in the same year.
“All I care about is winning a championship,” Logano said. “That’s the number one goal. When you go through these playoffs, you have to change the way you race. You have to do different things to give yourself a chance to win the big goal. The mission is to win the championship. It’s everything . This is what we work for. There’s only one, and it means a lot to have that.”
Joey still thinks about the three that got away. “I think about the three we lost. Even as much or more, how close we were. Even the last one in 2020 in Phoenix, coming off pit road as the leader and getting a tire vibration in the last run and falling back to third or fourth. I still get mad about that. I’m hoping that this will be redemption for 2020.”
Logano finished 8th in the spring race at Phoenix, but he has several advantages over the other three playoff drivers. By locking themselves in early, the team has had more time to focus on this final race. “We’ve been preparing for several weeks and qualifying was something we talked about a lot and also the race,” Logano said.
They gained even more ground today by earning pole position during qualifying. Logano gets the best starting spot, as well as pit stall selection for the race. Both of those will be major keys to finding success tomorrow.
As a two-time winner at this track, Logano certainly knows his way around the unique oval. Only three drivers have led more laps at Phoenix, and he has finished inside the top 11 in each of the last seven races. Whether or not Logano is the favorite is up for debate, but every driver knows that if they are going to win, they will have to beat the No. 22 cars.