News & Media

Logano trying to carry Nationwide success to Cup

June 06, 2012, David Caraviello,

A victory in the Nationwide Series race followed by his best finish of the season on the Sprint Cup circuit, and information learned in one helping to create the other. That was the kind of weekend Joey Logano enjoyed at Dover International Speedway -- and one he hopes he experiences more in the future.

Logano passed Ryan Truex with five laps remaining (watch) this past Saturday to record his series-leading fourth victory of the season on the Nationwide tour, and a day later came home eighth on the Delaware track to notch his best Cup result of 2012. It was something of a breakthrough for a Joe Gibbs Racing driver who has been a terror all season on the Nationwide side, but has struggled to carry that success over to his races on NASCAR's premier circuit.

Joey Logano

2012 NNS/Cup Statistics
Lead Lap Fin.95
Laps Led4252
Avg. Start7.213.2
Avg. Finish7.117.2
Lead Lap Fin.8671
Laps Led1,878149
Avg. Start7.118.1
Avg. Finish7.518.9

In the final year of his contract with JGR, the 22-year-old Connecticut native stands 16th in Cup points heading into this weekend's event at the resurfaced Pocono Raceway. But Logano has posted top-10s in two of the past three outings on the Cup tour, highlighted by an eighth-place run at Dover that had its roots in his Nationwide victory on the same track the day before.

"I think anytime you can run a Nationwide race and run well, it transfers over for a couple of reasons," Logano said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters (watch). "I think for one, it's confidence. It gives yourself, the driver, a lot of confidence, which is good for your whole team. And I think you're able to learn some things. You're on the same tire, the cars are pretty similar. Especially on the smaller race tracks, it seems the cars are more similar. So you can kind of learn some things throughout the day that you can carry over into your Cup program."

That certainly seemed the case at Dover, a 1-mile track where the Nationwide vehicles are on more even ground with their brethren from the Cup circuit, since the facility doesn't feature the kind of long straightaways that allow the Cup cars to take advantage of their superior power under the hood. Logano believes his success on the Nationwide tour this season goes back to his one-victory campaign of a year ago, more experience with crew chief Adam Stevens, and more seat time at different tracks.

"We're going back to these race tracks where we didn't run well last year," he said, "and we're winning there now."

Doing the same in Cup, though, has proven considerably more difficult. Logano concedes there are many key differences between the Nationwide and Cup tours, the latter of which features more powerful cars, longer races and deeper fields. But that doesn't mean it's not frustrating to experience so much success on one side, and then post such uneven results on the other.

"We're out there trying to win every race. We go there to win, and it's frustrating when you come up anything short of that," Logano said. "I think that's the right attitude you have to have. You can't be happy with an eighth-place finish. Do we think it's a solid finish? Yes. Is it as good as we want it to be? No. So we'll go back and learn from it and make sure we're better next time we go there. And there's always somewhere, some place, you feel like you screwed up. That's just part of sports and part of anything in life. That's part of being a perfectionist in everything you do. Yeah, you get frustrated when you [win on] Saturday and Sunday didn't go as well. But this weekend both races went very well for us. ... Those are the weekends you have to have consistently, very solid weekends like that."

Logano, in his first year with Cup crew chief Jason Ratcliff, had a similarly solid weekend last month at Darlington, where he followed a victory in the Nationwide event with a 10th-place result in the Southern 500. After a rough outing at Charlotte, he posted a Dover finish that bettered his previous best on the season, a ninth-place result in the Daytona 500. Now Logano hopes to keep it going to Pocono, where he finished a career-best 11th in the first race at the triangular track last year.

Looming above it all is Logano's contract situation at Gibbs. His approach is to keep trying to turn good Saturdays into better Sundays, and let everything take care of itself.

"There's pressure all the time, whether it's a contract year or not," he said. "You're always out there to do the same thing. So for me, I'm out there to win every race, and that doesn't change from this year to three years ago. There's no added pressure to that. Is there something extra in your mind? Yeah, there's something extra in your mind that you have to figure out before the season's over. At the same time, you go out there and focus on your job, and my job is to go out there and win races. As long as I do that, all that will come together pretty easily."