For the first time since his Rookie of the Year season in 2009, Joey Logano found himself in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Victory Lane last weekend at Pocono Raceway. Logano snapped a 104-race winless streak dating back to his 2009 win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway by taking the checkers this past Sunday in dominating fashion at Pocono. Logano had a near perfect weekend. The 22-year-old was fastest in Happy Hour, grabbed his fourth-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole and set a new track record in the process and then proceeded to lead the most laps en route to winning his second-career Sprint Cup Series event. Logano took the lead late with a daring pass of veteran Mark Martin and then held off Martin, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson for the victory.
BACK IN THE CHASE HUNT: It’s been long said, if you are not in the top-10 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, the best thing you can do for yourself to get into the Chase is to start winning races. Well, with Logano’s victory at Pocono Raceway last weekend, Logano now finds himself in a crowded group of those looking for one of the two Wildcard births into the Chase. Logano is one of four drivers between 11th and 16th in the point standings that have scored a win in the 2012 season. Logano moved up one position in the points and is now 15th and is tied in points with 14th-place Ryan Newman and is just one point behind 13th-place Paul Menard. Logano also now sits just 28 points out of the top-10 in the standings on the strength of three top-10 finishes in the last four events.
ONE WINNING WEEKEND MEANS TWO MORE RACES: While Joey Logano took home the trophy in what he called “the biggest win of his career” last weekend at Pocono Raceway, the youngster also won in a couple of other ways. By winning the pole for the Pocono event, Logano qualified himself for next year’s running of The Shootout at Daytona International Speedway to start the year. The past couple of seasons, The Shootout has had a number of different eligibility rules. Next year, The Shootout returns to its regular format of the previous season’s pole winners. With the win at Pocono, Logano also secured himself a spot in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway next season. Logano raced in the All-Star race in 2009 by way of the Fan Vote and was qualified for the 2010 event after winning at New Hampshire during his rookie season. The last two years though, Logano has not participated in the All-Star race.
HOTTER DRIVER IN NASCAR?: While there is no stats and there is no way of actually measuring “momentum,” there might not be any driver in NASCAR right now that has as much momentum on his side as Logano. Coming off his win last weekend at Pocono Raceway, Logano now has scored three top-10 finishes in his last four Sprint Cup Series events. He also won the pole at Pocono, marking the first time in over a year that a pole winner has won the same race. In addition to his recent good runs in the Sprint Cup Series, Logano is also on a roll on the Nationwide side of things. Logano has won three of his last four NASCAR Nationwide Series events (Talladega, Darlington and Dover). In the race he didn’t win during that stretch, Logano ran up front and led laps at Charlotte after starting from the pole only to finish sixth due to pit strategy. In the Nationwide Series this season, Logano has scored four wins and three poles in just 10 events.
MICHIGAN BEEN BOTH GOOD AND BAD FOR LOGANO: In six-career Sprint Cup Series starts at Michigan International Speedway, Logano has scored three top-10 finishes. His best race came in his rookie season, when Logano started eighth (his career best starting spot at Michigan) and finished seventh (also his career best at the two-mile track). In 2010, Logano scored a pair of 10th-place finishes in each of the two Michigan events.
RACE INFO: The Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan Internatoinal Speedway (Brooklyn, MI; 2-mile oval) is set for Sunday, June 17th at 12pm ET. The race will be broadcast on TNT (TV) and MRN (radio).
Joey Logano on Michigan: “It’s been a great week celebrating our Pocono win. We’ve got to do a ton of media and I’ve gotten a lot of congratulatory voicemails, text messages and tweets. It’s been a lot of fun taking it all in and it means a lot to me. But now, we have to put that weekend behind us and we have to focus on Michigan. You can’t let your guard down in this sport or you will get knocked down a lot quicker than the time it took you to get built up. We need to go to Michigan with the same outlook and attitude that we had going into Pocono. The two race weekends are very similar. We are going to a track that has just been repaved, we have a day of testing this time around instead of two and then our normal race weekend. So we need to use Thursday’s test session and try and get our car as close as we can. Then, hopefully when Friday rolls around, we will have a good game plan and we can have the same type of success that we did in Pocono. The only real difference this time around is that we didn’t do the tire test here, but our teammate Kyle Busch did so I am sure we will be able to use that information and use it wisely.
“I’m not real sure of what to expect at Michigan just like we weren’t really sure what to expect at Pocono. The Pocono race turned out to be a pretty good one and hopefully Michigan will be just the same. One thing that we do know is that the track is going to be fast. It will be very interesting to see what kind of times we will run and how many grooves of racing we will have there. This week, running the Nationwide race might not be as much of an advantage because we will pretty much be wide open in the Nationwide cars there. In the end, the car and the team who gets the most out of Thursday will likely be the car to beat all weekend long. I just hope that car is us.”