By Dustin Albino

Last fall at Phoenix Raceway, Joey Logano stamped his name in the record book as the 17th driver in NASCAR history to have multiple Cup Series championships. Cool. 

Some of Logano‘s competitors — specifically, Kyle Busch — thinks he‘s two-faced for the way he conducts himself on the track compared to the nice, smiley, compassionate person they see away from the track. But the Connecticut native is just ultra competitive at everything. 

Nobody wants to play games against me at home. I‘m that guy,” Logano said during Wednesday‘s Daytona 500 Media Day. “When we‘re done, I laugh, joke around and have fun. Game night always turns into an argument at home every single time.”

While Logano can joke about how a game of Monopoly turns into a squabble, he‘s very much the same way against his competition. It‘s the Team Penske way: Never settle. 

“You‘re a product of your environment,” Logano added. “You are who you hang out with and I‘ve been there for a while now; the majority of my career. I‘ve seen it, I live it and Roger doesn‘t tell me anything. You kind of just know. 

“I don‘t know how much of that was inside of me already because I can‘t really say I saw success before I worked for Roger. It‘s hard for me to say what that means, but I will say being around him sure isn‘t a bad thing to have that mindset as well.”

Since joining Team Penske already a decade ago, Logano has won 29 races and has been a part of a handful of Championship 4 appearances. Twice he‘s come out on top, though believing wholeheartedly he should have captured another title in 2020. In 2015, he was well on his way to the Championship 4 before running into a Matt Kenseth problem at Martinsville in the Round of 8 opener. He won a series-high six races and finished sixth in points. 

If a few things went differently in either 2014 or 2016 — when he got into Carl Edwards on a late-race restart, turning the No. 19 Toyota into the inside wall — he believes he should have four championships. Instead, his champion badge on his bright yellow Shell Pennzoil uniform reads “2X champion.” 

With the Daytona 500 just days away, Logano isn‘t keen on reliving what the No. 22 team accomplished three months ago in the Phoenix desert. To him, it‘s on to the next goal: winning the 2023 Cup title. 

“It‘s nice, don‘t get me wrong,” he said. “It’s a cool accomplishment to have, but I also feel like it was last year and it‘s over. The championship stuff, in my mind, is over. It‘s nice to run out the season as the reigning champion, or previous champion, but it‘s over in my mind. We had our moment to enjoy it, to celebrate, and now it‘s back to work. We‘ve got to do it again. The goal is the same again this year. We can‘t do the same things; we‘ve got to find more and adjust again. Nothing changes.”

While winning the championship comes with work and media obligations, Logano said he didn‘t have much time to enjoy the No. 22 team‘s title run. But there were a couple of nice parties along the way, including a Penske party that celebrated both his championship and the 2022 IndyCar title won by Will Power. Logano even sang karaoke. 

The No. 22 team‘s motto for the 2023 season is “never enough.” Logano said he made t-shirts, hats and other merchandise to push the slogan internally. It stems from a visit to Ford‘s headquarters with his crew chief Paul Wolfe. 

While speaking to the championship winning duo, Logano recalls Jim Farley, CEO of Ford saying: “Congratulations, you won the championship, this is great for Ford. It‘s great you guys won, you‘re probably not going to win next year. You‘re probably comfortable and you guys have already done it and probably not as hungry. I feel like after ‘20, you were really hungry to win the championship. Probably not now.” That was additional motivation. 

“I was instantly pissed off,” Logano said. “I was like, ‘What did this guy just say to me?‘ After letting it sit for like a month, I realized what he was doing. He‘s really smart and now I‘ve got a chip on my shoulder because it‘s to prove a point.”

First up is the Daytona 500, where Logano, among the best superspeedway drivers in the garage, won in 2015.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *