2016 Season Review - Joey Logano
January 2, 2017
Immediately after Joey Logano finished second by just three points in the 2016 NASCAR Cup championship, he let himself be disappointed. But only for a short period of time.
“I was mad for a little bit,” Logano said with a chuckle. “But then I started looking at the next season, and I’m looking at next season the same way I looked at the 2016 season. We’ll keep pushing along. If we keep racing with the same intensity that this team is known to have, we’ll be right back in the mix.”
Truth is, despite it not being quite what Logano expected, the season was filled with positive moments for Logano and the crew of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil/AAA/Autotrader Team Penske Ford. The team won three races – Michigan, Talladega and Phoenix – made it to the final round of the Chase, and came up just three positions short of celebrating a championship.
“We did get better as the season went on and as the Chase progressed, and that’s something to be proud of,” said Logano. “Every team brings the best they’ve got and has to ace their game when the championship is on the line. The team handled the pressure as well as I’ve ever seen. When there’s pressure, it can go either way. Some people rise to the occasion and like the pressure and are better under pressure. Others crack under pressure. My team raises its game when the pressure is on. That’s pretty cool.”
The end of the season in particular was where Logano, crew chief Todd Gordon and the rest of the crew on the No. 22 car shined. In the final six races, Logano finished outside the top four just once – a ninth-place effort at Martinsville – while winning at Talladega and Phoenix.
“We fell short of our goal of winning the championship, but there’s a lot of growth that I’m proud of – not only in myself as a racecar driver, but in the whole team,” said Logano. “From the way we prepared our car at the shop to the way the crew got prepared and was mentally strong every weekend and was strong throughout the whole Chase, and to the way the road crew handled themselves under pressure. When I look at how much better we were this year than where we were two years ago when we were in the same situation, it’s night and day.”
Logano went out of his way to praise his team, led by car chief Raymond Fox, race engineer Miles Stanley, vehicle dynamics specialist John Logan and mechanics Eric Bailey, Steve Williams and Daniel Lynch.
The highest praise, though, was doled out to Logano’s over-the-wall crew, whose pit stops throughout the season were spot-on.
“They’ve always been good, but there was a time a couple of years ago that the pit stops weren’t at the caliber they are now,” said Logano. “We’ve improved a lot over the last couple of years. That took a lot of work and structure changes to make it the way it is. It takes every aspect of a race team to win these things, and you can’t win races with a not-so-good pit crew. You have to have everything, and we’re fortunate to have that at Team Penske.”
The 26-year-old from Middletown, Conn., now has 17 victories in nine seasons at NASCAR’s top level, 15 of those since joining Team Penske in 2013.
In the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Logano continued to produce, earning a pair of wins (at Watkins Glen and Charlotte) driving the No. 12 Snap-on/PPG Ford Mustang. In all, Logano posted 12 top-10 finishes in 16 NXS starts in 2016.
As he reflects back on the season, Logano feels finishing second in the Cup Series championship is both frustrating and encouraging.
“Our goal is always the same, and I believe we can do it every year,” he said. “The fact that we were close this year doesn’t make me feel any better going into the next year. I don’t feel like, ‘Oh, now I know we can do it.’ I knew we could do it before this year. You’ve got to have that attitude. You have to have that confidence in yourself and your race team.”
That confidence brought Logano and his team within an eyelash of hoisting the Monster Energy Cup. While they all found that disappointing, they didn’t stay disappointed for long.
“We’re all frustrated that we didn’t win, and we should be frustrated. We set our goals high,” Logano explained. “But at the same time you have to look at the positives, and there are a lot of positives. We’ve grown a lot as a team, and I’m proud of that.”