News & Media

Reflective Logano focused on present, future

November 03, 2012, Mark Aumann,

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Joey Logano walked quickly through the garage area Friday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway with what seemed a like a singular purpose. He focused directly on the path ahead.

Perhaps that's a metaphor for the changes he's about to experience as he leaves Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season for a new job driving the No. 22 Ford for Penske Racing in 2013. Or it just could be that he realized he needed to hustle to his car for qualifying.

"I have no regrets here. I'm really excited about what's coming on next year."


In any case, Logano is looking forward to the new challenge. At the same time, he's leaving a place -- and a team -- where he's felt comfortable. And that always presents its own set of issues.

Logano was the teenaged sensation who took over for Tony Stewart in 2009. Now four years later, it's Logano who's leaving the No. 20 Toyota. And while he's excited about the future, he's also trying to end his time at JGR on the most positive note possible.

"It's definitely a lot different than it's been in the past years for me," Logano said. "I've never really gone through a team change before. You want to end on the best note you possibly can, and keep everyone going for next year.

"I'm friends with a lot of the guys on the team, so you want to get them all you've got, and their giving me all they've got. We're going to try to do the best we can over the last three [races]."

Expectations have always been high -- perhaps too much so -- for a young driver who was called "the real deal" by none other than Mark Martin. In his four seasons at JGR, Logano won twice -- at New Hampshire in 2009 and earlier this season when he gave Martin the bump-and-run to get by at Pocono.

However, Logano never made the Chase in his four seasons with Gibbs, and comparisons to the driver he replaced -- Stewart -- or his older, more experienced teammates was a bit unfair, to be sure. But that's the nature of the business, and Logano is fully aware of that as he gets ready to become Brad Keselowski's teammate in 2013.

This season was a perfect example of "one step forward, two steps back." Logano started off the season with back-to-back top-10 finishes, then went through a stretch of eight races where he struggled to break into the top 15.

After Logano's win at Pocono seemed to turn things around, he crashed just past the halfway point at Michigan and wound up 35th. He finished fourth in the July race at Daytona, then got loose trying to pass Trevor Bayne at Indianapolis and set off a four-car accident.

Since the Chase began, Logano's scored four top-10 finishes. But he's 36 points behind 16th-place Paul Menard with three races to go.

"I have no regrets here," Logano said. "I'm really excited about what's coming on next year and what we're going to be able to do together as a team. Having a great teammate like Brad is going to be a heck of a good thing."

For now, Logano is concentrating on the "now," which is driving the No. 20 this weekend, Phoenix and Homestead. But it's hard for Logano to stop the "next" from creeping into the conversation, because while he's mindful of the task at hand, he's definitely focused on his future.

"We made the big crew chief announcement this week, with Todd Gordon," Logano said. "Definitely, you're thinking of both things, for sure. It makes it a little difficult to do that, but at the same time, that's part of the game."