• Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Joey Logano’s confidence lifts Team Penske to new heights

ByBrenden Martin

Nov 7, 2022
Logano hoists the NASCAR Cup Series trophy

Photo courtesy of Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

AVONDALE, Ariz. — A season with a front and back cover, and Joey Logano is on both of them. The driver of the No. 22 Ford Mustang for Team Penske won the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship in dominant fashion. Logano took the green flag from pole, won the opening stage and led all but one green flag lap over his Championship 4 competition to bring home the title as he did in 2018.

This year’s champion held off Trackhouse Racing No. 1 driver Ross Chastain, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 driver Christopher Bell and Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 driver Chase Elliott to win his second title.

Logano’s confidence going into the final race was unbound and stood above the rest.

“I told my guys the other day, ‘Well we got them down, now we put our foot on them,’’ and that’s the attitude you got to have,” Logano said after the race.

While some drivers may feel making the Championship 4 is the pinnacle of their season, Logano and the No. 22 team have been there and done that a handful of times and would only be content when that group of four became just them.

“When you get this far, I said it all week, we weren’t satisfied with being in the Championship 4,” Logano said. “It is nothing to celebrate for us. We’ve been here before, we know what it feels like to lose, and it’s the worst feeling in the world if I’m being honest, and winning is the best feeling in the world.”

Logano became the first two-time champion to drive for Ford since David Pearson did so with back-to-back titles in 1968 and 1969. He also rounded out a strong showing for Ford, which also won the Driver and Owner Championship in the Camping World Truck Series with Zane Smith in the No. 38 truck for Front Row Motorsports.

Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance, spoke on the near future of Ford in NASCAR.

“What Front Row Motorsports has done in starting that truck program and Zane being as strong as he was … He’s got a really strong future in the sport,” Rushbrook said. “That means so much to us. The Truck Series is important to us. It’s a great place for talent for us to develop.”

The eventual champion had the most time out of any final four competitors to prepare for the race at Phoenix thanks to winning the opening race of the Round of 8 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Logano did the same thing in 2020 at Kansas Speedway before finishing second in the Championship 4 that season, losing to Elliott who started the race from the rear to win his first Cup title.

Logano bookended a historic season that brought a record-tying 19 different winners, including five brand-new members to Victory Lane. The veteran driver ushered in the era of the Next Gen car in style, winning the inaugural running of The Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in February. After winning the first official competition with the new car, Logano and his wife, Brittany, welcomed their third child, Emilia.

At the time, Logano had no idea if he could even run the Clash, but that fruitful night in Los Angeles previewed what would happen come November.

Logano made sure to fulfill the promise he made to his son Hudson before the weekend. He told Hudson he would start on the pole, which he did, and followed that up with a promise of a race win and a championship.

“I can’t have my son think I’m a liar,” Logano said pre-race.

Logano’s children may be the lucky charms to make him a multi-time champion in the Cup Series. Hudson was born on Jan. 4, 2018, right before the season when Logano secured three wins en route to his first championship. This year, Logano can give Emilia a championship trophy before her first birthday as well.

He reflected on the time and care his wife does for their young children while he’s at the racetrack, and he did so using a defining catchphrase for him this season.

“It says that my hot ass wife is a true badass,” Logano said. “My badass wife is what I should call her. My hot badass wife.”

The phrase calls back to the first episode of USA Network’s Race for the Championship docu-series that debuted this season. The episode centered around the family lives of drivers with a notorious scene of Logano receiving a call from Brittany and her name under her contact came up as “My Hot Ass Wife.”

Hudson, now nearly five years old, got to ride along with his father on his victory lap. Logano appreciated the opportunity to have that moment on a day when NASCAR mourned the loss of JGR co-owner Coy Gibbs, who passed away in his sleep the night his son Ty won the Xfinity Series Championship.”

“It just goes to prove that you got to cherish every moment in life,” Logano said. “You don’t know when your number is called. You just don’t.”

Logano got the inspiration to bring Hudson along for a ride from a very recent instance this season.

“Ever since Kevin [Harvick] took Keelan [Harvick’s son] in Michigan for a ride in the car, I said ‘I want to do that,’” Logano said.

The 2022 Cup Series finale at Phoenix Raceway followed a lot of what was seen in the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series. In all three races, the pole-sitter and winner of Stage 1 won the race and the title.

Starting in the clean air the pole provides is one thing, but a key feature the best qualifying time provides is the first pit stall selection, which No. 22 team Crew Chief Paul Wolfe said was immensely important.

“The pit stall’s obviously really good,” Wolfe said. “It’s worth a car length or so on equal stops.”

Ford’s dominance this year was shown across motorsports as Team Penske won the NTT IndyCar Championship in September with the No. 2 team driven by Will Power.

Team owner Roger Penske defined the accomplishments in what was a near-perfect season.

“I think we’ve tried it for 31 years so it was about time,” Penske said. “What a special weekend for us.”

Logano joins JGR No. 18 driver Kyle Busch as the only two multi-time champions in the Cup Series. Busch ran his last race with the team, resulting in a seventh-place finish in a special mosaic M&Ms scheme of fans on the car. Logano has become the veteran force for Ford’s premier stock car team, especially in this first year after Brad Keselowski moved from Penske to join Roush Fenway Racing and added his name to the title.

He is now the elder statesman of the team with all the experience he has gained and still has plenty of time to build his legacy at age 32.

“I said to [Joey] at the beginning of the year that with Brad leaving and he being the senior guy to really put his arms around the whole team, I think we’re a lot more transparent as a group,” Penske said.

A multi-time champion, alongside Ryan Blaney, who finished second at Phoenix after winning Stage 2 and Austin Cindric, who won Rookie of the Year with winning the Daytona 500 and a Round of 12 appearance, Team Penske is set to continue being a top-tier team for years to come.