By Zach Sturniolo
4 Minute Read
Joey Logano is a two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion.
The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford earned his second career title with the win on Sunday at Phoenix Raceway, collecting the third title for team owner Roger Penske. Logano outlasted the other Championship 4 contenders of Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell and Chase Elliott.
“We did it!,” Logano screamed after exiting his car. “We’re champions again, yes! Oh, my God, I’m so excited.”
In the end, perhaps there was no more fitting driver than Logano to claim the first championship behind the wheel of the Next Gen vehicle. Logano stormed to victory in the car’s first competition in the exhibition Clash at the LA Coliseum in February. Nine months later, Logano is triumphant again in the Western sun.
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Logano quietly enjoyed one of the best seasons on the circuit, rolling to victory three times ahead of the championship race and entering Phoenix with the third-best average finish in the series (13.8). Those efforts were rewarded in the form of the Bill France Cup.
Logano enters rarified air with his second Cup title, joining former teammate Kyle Busch as the only active multi-time champions on the circuit. The 32-year-old Connecticut native celebrates his second title in the past five seasons and places this year’s trophy alongside his 2018 title.
“I guess the greed in me feels like I should have four or five at the moment, so I guess the feeling is it’s about time,” Logano said post-race. “But that’s just how I am and how I work, I guess. This one is special for a lot of reasons, and one thing that I think probably stands out most to me is just the way (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) did it and we all did it together all the way through.”
This year was met with more change for Logano than just a new vehicle. He and his wife Brittany welcomed their third child, Emilia, to the world less than 48 hours after Logano won the Clash in Los Angeles, all while Logano moved into a more veteran role at the team he’s called home for the past 10 seasons.
Brad Keselowski, the 2012 champion, departed Team Penske for a different challenge at RFK Racing for the 2022 season. Long viewed as the new kid on the block, Logano shifted into the leadership role alongside teammates Ryan Blaney and rookie Austin Cindric. That experience paid dividends as all three drivers made the playoffs, and Logano clinched another title.
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Logano locked his way into the postseason in May, collecting his first points-paying win of the year at Darlington Raceway. The victory didn’t come without ruffled feathers after he roughed up William Byron with a lap and a half remaining. Their contact drew the ire of Byron and Hendrick Motorsports, but Logano continued his championship run with another victory just three weeks later in the inaugural Cup race at Worldwide Technology Raceway at Gateway in St. Louis.
The road to another title was anything but smooth for the No. 22 team. Its summer featured a four-race stretch with consecutive finishes of 20th or worse. That rockiness wasn’t left in the regular season, either. Kansas and Bristol saw Logano finish outside the top 15 in consecutive races during the opening round of the playoffs, along with a 27th-place finish at Talladega in the Round of 12.
But his win in mid-October at Las Vegas was enough to clinch his way to the Championship 4 for the fifth time in nine years, rendering his results at Homestead-Miami (18th) and Martinsville (sixth) irrelevant as the first driver to lock up his spot in the title round. That led to a swell of confidence evident at Phoenix.
“It wasn’t meant to be mind games,” Logano said. “You just asked me how I felt and I was honest, and I really felt like we were in a spot to win this thing. I truly believe that attitudes are contagious, good or bad. And when you’re able to bring that attitude to your race team in a moment like this, as a driver there, that just carries through it.
“I believe confident people win. If you don’t believe in yourself, who else is ever going to believe in you? How are you ever going to win? But I also think you can’t fake that. I think of my first Championship 4 appearance, was I confident? No, I was a nervous wreck. Are the nerves still there? Yeah, the nerves are still there. You don’t want to screw it up because you got this far. But I truly felt ready as a driver, and I felt like as a race team we went through everything we can possibly go through.”
Logano becomes just the third driver to score multiple championships in the last 10 seasons, joining Jimmie Johnson (2013, 2016) and Kyle Busch (2015, 2019). His journey to the sport’s peak featured plenty of challenges and infamous run-ins on the track since making his first Cup start in 2008, but his talent has been unquestioned, particularly since joining Team Penske in 2013.
Before that he was with Joe Gibbs Racing, competing full-time in Cup from 2009-12. He scored his first career win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway — his home track — in his rookie year in a rain-shortened race. An impressive duel with mentor Mark Martin in June 2012 at Pocono found Logano back in Victory Lane and propelled him to the No. 22 car the following season.
Once he and Team Penske joined forces, the climb to the top was underway.