Before the 2020 NASCAR Playoffs started, Joey Logano made a list of six or seven best practices he thought were key to a successful race team.
The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford had already locked himself into the postseason for the third consecutive year and sixth time in the last seven years. But he was on a dry spell, having not won since the second and fourth races of the season. The playoffs began with the 27th event on the schedule.
Logano showed the list to his crew chief, Paul Wolfe, and asked for his opinion.
“He saw the word ‘believe;’ he said that’s the biggest thing,” Logano said Thursday during the Championship 4’s Media Day. “We got to believe in each other. We got to believe in ourselves. We got to believe we can win. We got to believe we’re the best. Be humble to work and find gains, but believe in us.”
It was that easy. The No. 22 crew had its motto. And it worked.
Logano qualified for the Championship 4 after advancing through the first two rounds on the basis of points and then winning the Round of 8 opener at Kansas Speedway. He’ll race for his second title Sunday at Phoenix Raceway in the Season Finale 500 (3 p.m. ET on NBC/NBC Sports, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
“Honestly, I feel l like this year feels a lot like 2018,” Logano said. “It’s actually kind of funny because I think about 2018 where we had not the best summer months, then we kind of picked it up as the playoffs started (and) won Martinsville, the first race of the third round, which set up to race for a championship in Miami that year.”
A championship that he won.
Out of the four title-eligible contenders, Logano and teammate Brad Keselowski are previous champions. Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott are aiming for their first title.
Keselowski and Hamlin made the Championship 4 on points. Elliott won the final elimination race at Martinsville Speedway for his first-ever berth. Logano had that Round of 8 opener victory.
“We’ve had three weeks to think about it, be ready for it,” Logano said. “With those things, I feel more confident than ever. I always go back to my first Championship 4 round back in 2014. I remember crapping my pants about how nervous I was. … Now going through it before, knowing how to prepare for what’s coming ahead of you, that battle ahead of you, knowing you succeeded before in the championship round, it really gives you some confidence to go out there and do your job.”
Logano also won the race at Phoenix earlier this season, right before the COVID-19 shutdown. He led 60 of the 316 laps, including the last 24 after passing Keselowski. Logano beat Kevin Harvick to the finish line by .276 seconds.
Safe to say Logano is ready to repeat.
“I think the experience is there, the speed is there,” Logano said. “I think the mentality of the way we race is there.
“I truly believe that we’re the favorites to win this thing.”