Much of the talk this season has surrounded the Big Three of Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. However, Joey Logano is one of just four additional drivers to win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event in 2018.
Logano took the checkered flag at Talladega Superspeedway in late April, the 10th race of the season. In the opening 10 campaigns, the No. 22 team had nine top-10 efforts, including four top fives.
In the nine races since Talladega, Logano has added five top 10s but has finished 19th or worse in three events. At Daytona, he was involved in the Big One on lap 53, ending his night in 39th, earning one point.
Meanwhile, his top competition — Truex, Busch and Harvick — has won 14 of the 19 races this year, thus making Logano and his team step up their game edging toward the playoffs.
“We’re not quite at that point yet as a race team,” Logano said on Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “We’re not far from it. We just hang really close. We’re consistent. We can run in the top 10 about anywhere right now. We can make some top-five finishes every now and again, but we have to have a perfect day to win a race at this point.
“We have to have the perfect strategy, a great car that’s maximized to the best handling we can possibly make it. There’s just no margin for error throughout the whole event for us right now.”
Logano ranks ninth in the series in terms of laps led (225), behind his two Team Penske teammates Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski. But to compete with the aforementioned Big Three, everything has to be right.
“We just have to be on our game right now to be able to win races and I’m not saying we can’t,” he said. “We just have to be perfect and it’s not easy – not that it’s ever easy to win a race, but the margin that we’re working with right now isn’t as big as what you see those top three cars at that are able to be consistently fast even if they’re car may not be quite perfect.”
Compared to this point last season, it’s been a 180-degree turn for Logano. Heading into the 20th race of the season in 2017, he had an encumbered win at Richmond Raceway, and sat 13th in points, though outside of the playoff cutoff.
But after making it to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway twice, Logano wants the big trophy handed out at the end of the season.
“The fact that we’re locked in the Playoffs is great, but that’s only one part of it,” he said. “The goal is to win the championship… We can make that happen this year, we’ve just got to make some gains here and we’ve got to make them pretty quick because the Playoffs are right down the road from where we are right now.
“We’ve definitely got to make some gains here soon, but the mindset isn’t any different. At this point last year my goal was still to win the championship and then we kind of realized we had bigger problems than even that. I think the mindset is always, ‘How can we be better?”
About the author
Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2020 marks his sixth full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he attended Ithaca College (Class of 2018) to earn a journalism degree. Since the ripe age of four, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.
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