Joey Logano hasn’t spent his career being known as a “road course ringer” in either the NASCAR Sprint Cup on Nationwide Series. However, thanks to a lot of testing and a lot of coaching from a number of different instructors, Logano has turned into quite the racer at turning both left and right.
Things started to turn around in the Nationwide Series in 2010 at Watkins Glen, when Logano raced his No. 20 Toyota to a second-place start and finish behind veteran road course racer Marcos Ambrose and then followed that up with a third-place qualifying effort and a sixth-place finish in the Nationwide race at Montreal. In 2011, Logano picked up his first-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole on a road course at Sonoma and finished sixth that afternoon after running up front all day long. At Watkins Glen last season, Logano won the pole for the Grand-Am Series GT event, finished third in the Nationwide race and came home fifth in the Cup event.
CHASE HOPES STILL HIGH DESPITE MICHIGAN TROUBLES: While Logano didn’t come out of Michigan with the finish that he or the Home Depot team deserved, his hopes for a birth in the Chase continues to be just as strong following his win a Pocono a couple of weeks ago. Logano is still in the fight among four drivers looking for those two Wild Card spots into the Chase. While Ryan Newman escaped unscathed in Michigan, Logano, Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne all suffered problems. Logano however had a car that was in contention all day long, racing with the leaders and inside the top-five and top-10 on a regular basis. A top-10 would have moved Logano into one of the Wild Card spots, but the 22-year-old kept his head up following a late-race accident that knocked him out of the event.
DRIFTING HIS WAY TO THE TOP?: Last Tuesday, Logano got a lesson from drifting champion Ken Gushi and his Toyota Scion FR-S at ZMax Dragway just outside of Charlotte Motor Speedway. Logano got behind the wheel with Gushi and got a few lessons before taking on the challenge himself in both a stock Scion FR-S and Gushi’s race-ready Scion. After a little instruction by Gushi behind the wheel of both cars, Logano took his turn and proceeded to turn the heads of those in attendance and of Gushi himself. Gushi said Logano was “a natural” and if he never needed a backup driver, he’d “have no problem calling Joey to fill in.”
THANKS TO THE CREW: While a lot of drivers thank their teams for victories in a number of different ways, from gifts to thank yous to dinners, Joey did the only thing he knows how to do to thank his Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams for recent victories – by racing them. Logano took his Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams to Victory Lane Karting in Charlotte, NC for a little get-together to celebrate their recent wins at Pocono (Cup) and Michigan (NNS) on Tuesday night. After qualifying, the fastest were put into an A-Main and the rest into a B-Main. And to no one’s surprise, Logano was the fastest on the track all night long, even though a few members of Logano’s “A team” and “B team” guys were able to give him a run for his money.
NATIONWIDE “MO” CONTINUES: While Michigan’s Cup race didn’t go quite as well for Logano, his roll in the NASCAR Nationwide Series continued. Logano won his fifth race of the season at Michigan, holding off James Buescher for the victory late. It was Logano’s fourth Nationwide Series win in the last five races and it also matched his career-high of Nationwide Series wins in a season at five. Logano will not be competing in this weekend’s Nationwide Series event at Road America and will be back behind the wheel at Daytona International Speedway, where he is the defending Nationwide Series race winner.
WEEKEND APPEARANCES: Logano will make a public appearance on Sunday at the Toyota Fan Zone located at Turn 10 in Sonoma. Logano and a few members of his pit crew will race with fans on an interactive R/C course which replicates Sonoma Raceway. The appearance is scheduled for 8:20am Sunday morning.
RACE INFO: The Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma (Sonoma, CA; 1.99-mile road course) is set for Sunday, June 24th at 2pm ET. The race will be broadcast on TNT (TV) and PRN (radio).
Joey Logano on Sonoma: “Michigan was disappointing for sure, but we all came out of there knowing that we had a top-10 car and maybe even a top-five. We’re still on a roll and we’ve still got a really good race team and really good cars coming to the track, so we’re not going to let Michigan get us down. We are now focused in on Sonoma and some unfinished business there. I really feel like last year we had a great car that should have finished better than we did. We sat on the pole and led some laps, but late we just let it get away from us. This year, we are going to be even better. I really think we can go out there and get the pole again and maybe even win the race. I think I’m getting better and better as a road course racer and its showing. You always hear about road course ringers, but in reality, every single guy out there in this sport is a great racer and everyone one of them can shine on a road course. So you really don’t change anything or approach the weekend any different. You are just going to go out there and do your best.
“Sonoma is so much of a strategy race. You really look at your fuel mileage and you just work your way backwards from that. Although, the last couple of years out there, Sonoma has almost because as crazy and as unpredictable as a short track race. You really see a lot of guys beating and banging and roughing each other up because passing is at a premium and it’s tough. We will just stick to our game plan and see how it works out. I’d like to go out there again and win the pole and lead laps and then be there at the finish of the race and have a chance to race for the win. If we do that, points will take care of themselves.”