Joey Logano capped off what many would call a perfect weekend Sunday at Pocono Raceway in the Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR. Logano led Happy Hour practice Friday, earned the pole and set a new track record behind the wheel of his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota on Saturday, led the most laps and grabbed his second-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win on Sunday at the 2.5-mile track in Long Pond, PA.
Logano started the week and weekend off by constantly being one of the fastest cars in testing and practice on the newly repaved Pocono track. Logano was also fastest in Happy Hour practice on Friday afternoon.
On Saturday, Logano grabbed his fourth-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole and set a new Pocono Raceway track record in the process. It was Logano second-straight pole at Pocono Raceway, dating back to last year’s fall event where he started on the pole and led 44 laps.
When the green flag flew on Sunday, Logano jumped out to the early lead and led the race’s first 16 laps before a round of early pit stops.
As is accustomed to Pocono events, cars throughout the field were on varying pit strategies all day. Logano and the Home Depot team were no different. However crew chief Jason Ratcliff stuck to the team’s plan and kept Logano on their pre-determined pit strategy.
Except for cycling through during green-flag pit stops, Logano never fell lower than sixth in the running order.
On lap 125, Ratcliff made a late call for two tires and fuel. Logano came into the pits in fourth prior to the stop, but a great stop by the Home Depot team, along with having the first pit stall, got Logano back out in the lead.
On the follow restart, Logano jumped out to yet another large lead and paced the field for the next 27 laps and kept the top spot through several restarts and challenges by his competitors.
On the final restart of the day, second-place driver Mark Martin got the jump on Logano and took the lead on lap 153 heading into turn one. Logano fell into second and stalked Martin before making the winning pass with just four laps to go. From there, Logano stretched his lead and went on to take the checkers by 0.997-seconds over Martin.
The victory was Logano’s second-career win and his first since his rookie season of 2009 when he became the youngest winner in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history by winning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Logano paced the field on four different occasions for a total of 49 laps. He picked up the bonus point for leading the most laps on the afternoon.
With the win, Logano jumped up one spot to 15th in the Sprint Cup Series point standings. He is tied with Ryan Newman and is just one point behind 13th-place Paul Menard. Logano is just 27 points out of the top-10.
Logano also locked himself into next year’s season-opening Shootout event at Daytona International Speedway by winning the pole and into next year’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star event with the win.
Joey Logano on his race: “Wow, just wow. That’s about all I can say right now. This has been a long time coming. Not just for me, but for all the guys on this team, for Home Depot, Dollar General, Toyota and all of the sponsors who make this car go around in circles each and every week. You don’t know how much this means to me. To finally win one the right way and put to bed all of the naysayers from the rain-shortened win in New Hampshire a couple of years ago. I always knew I had the ability to win in these cars. I’ve believed in myself, Joe Gibbs Racing has believed in me and this team has believed in me. This racing is just so competitive and all of the drivers are so good, you have to be spot on all weekend long to win one of these things. That is something we just have been missing the last couple of years, but this weekend, we were spot on for sure. To be fast in practice, to get the pole and set a new track record, then to come out here and lead the most laps and win the race by passing a guy like Mark Martin; it just doesn’t get any better than that. It’s just amazing to be back in Victory Lane. And to give Jason Ratcliff his first win as a Sprint Cup Series crew chief is huge. The guy deserves it. We’ve been growing our relationship and we knew it was going to take time. I think you are finally starting to see it all come together. We can still improve and we need to keep working at it, but things are getting better and better.
“I was a little concerned there at the end of the race when Mark (Martin) got the jump on me on that final restart. We had been so good going into turn one all day long, I was actually pretty surprised when he got ahead of us there. And being in second wasn’t the place I wanted to be. Being out front was huge. Clean air was huge. When we were out front on the couple of runs before that, we were pulling away and running lap times a couple of tenths better than everyone else. But when we were in second, I wasn’t sure how that was going to go. I just stayed right there on his bumper and hoped he’d make a mistake and he did coming off of turn three. I had a great run going down into turn one and was right on his bumper. He just got out of the gas and I think I gave him a little nudge and got by him. After that, it was clear sailing. We had an awesome, awesome Home Depot Toyota. I can’t thank Jason, the guys on the team, the pit crew and everyone who works on the car enough. That was one of the best cars I’ve ever had at a racetrack.
“We can’t rest on this win though. We have to continue to get better and better. The moment you rest and the moment you think you have some momentum going here in the Sprint Cup Series is the moment everyone will pass you. These guys out here are too good. You have to stay on top of your game. I’m just happy to get a win and get ourselves in a position to race for a spot into the Chase. We just need to move onto Michigan and Sonoma and do what we did this weekend. The rest of it will take care of itself.”