Joey Logano ‘still hungry for more’ after second Cup title
Joey Logano knows it would make a great storyline if he could explain how winning the preseason Clash led to him winning the 2022 Cup Series championship.
He still ranks winning the Clash as a big deal, but he knows that winning the exhibition in February didn’t result in him bookending the season by winning the season finale at Phoenix to capture his second career Cup title.
The Team Penske driver can think about the Clash a year ago and know how this one will be different. Last year, the Clash marked the debut, and the several unknowns, about NASCAR’s new Next Gen car racing on a new (and also unproven) temporary track built on top of the field where some of the biggest football games have ever been played in one of the biggest cities in the country.
“It’s a momentum booster, and it’s a nice little sense of pride being able to be the first win at the Clash and the Next Gen car,” Logano said. “That’s a special thing. I don’t know if there was a Clash ever bigger.”
So Logano heads back this weekend to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for another preseason Clash as the defending race winner and the defending Cup champion.
Most people will remember those big wins. Logano certainly can’t forget them, but they won’t mean a whole lot when he mashes the gas at the green flag Sunday (5 p.m. ET heats; 8 p.m. ET main event on FOX).
“I really don’t think much of ‘defending’ a championship or ‘defending‘ the Clash,” Logano said. “To me, it’s just about winning. It’s that simple.
“I don’t complicate things more than they need to be. The goal is the same going into the season or going into the Clash: It is to win. …. Whatever your finish was last year, it really doesn’t matter. That part’s over. It’s on to the next thing.”
Logano on winning the Clash
Joey Logano talks about last year’s win at the Clash and how he kept his momentum moving forward throughout the season.
And then once the Clash is over, it’s on to Daytona for the sport’s biggest event (Sunday, Feb. 19, 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX). Last year, Logano saw his Daytona 500 hopes evaporate as he got stuck in the grass with a flat tire and needed a few laps to get towed back onto the asphalt.
The euphoria of winning the Clash was a distant memory at that moment.
“[The Clash] was a huge win,” Logano said. “It just didn’t come with any points to help you the rest of the year.
“The momentum was killed right in Daytona when I was sitting in the infield for three laps trying to get out from a tow truck with flat tires.”
Logano said the parity created by the Next Gen car has changed the dynamic of winning a Cup title. Last year, 19 drivers won races and no driver won more than five. Neither drivers nor organizations ever established themselves as a clear-cut favorite, and running in the top-5 consistently appeared to be more difficult.
Impact of the Next Gen car
Joey Logano discusses being the first defending champion of the Next Gen era.
“Winning now is different because of the Next Gen car,” Logano said. “That changed everything for us. As the cars now are closer in speed, different things now win races.
“Where you used to be able to get away with a bad pit stop or get away with not as good of a restart or strategy being a little bit off and you could recover because your car is fast. Now if the whole field is close in speed, you’ve got to be perfect in the details.”
Logano was perfect in the details when it mattered most as he added a championship trophy to the one he already has from 2018.
And while it won’t matter much come this weekend, Logano will have one constant reminder of his 2022 title. He has a new patch on his uniform — one that designates him as a two-time Cup champion.
“There’s a 2X — I like it,” Logano said. “Honestly, I see the 2X on there, it’s cool. But I guess the way I’m wired is I look at it and I go, ‘It should be three or four.’
“That’s my attitude and the way I look at it. I think more of the ones that got away than the ones that we succeeded in. … I’m still hungry for more.”
“It should be three or four”
Joey Logano opened up about his 2x championship patch and how he’s keeping a hungry mentality.
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Thinking Out Loud
NASCAR’s decision to ban the “Hail Melon” — the move when Ross Chastain mashed the gas and used the Martinsville Speedway wall to direct his car, allowing him to pass several competitors and advance to the final round of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs — made my heart sink. My brain is good with it, but did it really have to come to that?
Probably so. The next driver who tries it and it goes wrong could result in catastrophe. If several drivers try it at the same time, it could be just as notable as Chastain’s move, only with the opposite reaction.
If NASCAR didn’t ban it and something bad happened the next time a driver tried it, I would have said NASCAR should have expected it and reacted earlier.
So in that sense, I get it. It was a decision NASCAR had to make. But the move was such an incredible sight, it would be cool to see again.
They Said It
“The NASCAR cars will bring the noise, and I’ll bring the party.” —Wiz Khalifa, who will perform during the halftime break of the Clash on Sunday.
Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.
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