Joey Logano 2014 Season Review

January 11, 2015

When the calendar turned to 2015, Joey Logano reflected back on the past 12 months of his life and probably thought “did that just happen?”  It’s a feeling that people get every day, when both good and bad things take place in their life.  But rarely does that feeling encompass 12 months’ worth of time. 

Did that just happen?

Did the second-year Team Penske driver lead the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion team to five wins, 16 top-five finishes, 22 top-10 finishes and nearly 1,000 laps led in 2014?

Did the 24-year-old become a part of his second-straight NASCAR Nationwide Series Owners’ Championship for Team Penske, his third-straight dating back to 2012 and the fourth of his seven-year Nationwide Series career?

Did the Connecticut native make leaps and bounds in his pursuit for helping others through his charitable causes, including the relaunched Joey Logano Foundation?

Did the “next best things since Slice Bread” become a bona fide leader on a team no one saw as the threat they became?

Did the “young kid” become a “grown man” by marrying his long-time finance in the off-season?

Did Logano become a weekly force to reckoned with on the race track?

Yep.  That all happened.

It began in Daytona, when Logano started his second year with the Todd Gordon-led No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford team.  Surviving the chaos that was the Sprint Unlimited race to finish fourth, Logano began a roller coaster start to his second, with three finishes of fourth in the first six races, but mechanical problems at Bristol and Fontana ruining days that looked to be sure top-fives.

Then came Texas.   Did that just happen?

Logano took the lead late in the Hertz/Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion.  He looked to be on his way to his third-career Sprint Cup Series win, when coming out of four to take the while flag, the caution flag came out.  Gordon didn’t delay.  He called Logano to pit road for four tires and fuel - something that would become a microcosm for the season.  Give Logano four tires and give him a chance to be aggressive.  On the green-white-checkered finished, after restarting third, Logano passed Jeff Gordon for the win on the final lap.

Two races later (and following another mechanical problem that derailed a sure top-10 finish), it happened again.

Showing late-race strength, Logano waited back while teammate Brad Keselowski, Gordon and Matt Kenseth waged a battle for the lead.  Taking advantage of the situation, Logano dove low, made a move and pulled away to win his second race of the year.

Logano had never won two races in a season.  Never two in three races.  Never with such a late-power move around three past Champions.  Did that just happen? 

In those first 26 races of the Sprint Cup Series season, Logano’s season looked like this: three race wins, four races (Bristol, Fontana, Darlington, Pocono) where mechanical problems took their toll while running in the top-10 of season, two restrictor plate accidents, a wreck with a lapped car at New Hampshire while running second late in the race and four races where the team just “struggled” to top-15 finishes.  The rest of the season – a load of top-five and top-10 finishes. 

That other regular season win – just a victory in one of the biggest races on the schedule, the Bristol Night Race.  Holding off his teammate Keselowski for the victory, Logano finished a Team Penske weekend sweep by winning the 500-lap event. 

In the midst of all of the Sprint Cup Series success, Logano also ran some races in the Nationwide Series in that same time span.  However, for a driver with 21 Nationwide Series wins over the course of his career, those wins weren’t coming as easy. 

Not that he didn’t have a chance though. 

In Fontana, Logano was leading until a late pit stop with less than 20 to go. In Dover, Logano was dominate early, but fell back late. At Michigan, Logano dominated until a flat tire with just four laps to go brought him to pit road. In Daytona, he made a move for the lead on the final lap only to get shuffled back before coming back to the finish. He finished second at Atlanta, Dover and Texas to round out the year.

Then came the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup. 

A fourth-place finish with a quickly souring engine at Chicagoland was followed up by Logano’s fourth win of the season – and his self-proclaimed biggest win of his career – at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, his home track on the schedule.  The win locked Logano into the next round, but he followed it up with another fourth place to round out the Contender Round.  Logano also found himself atop the Sprint Cup Series point standings for the first time in his career. 

At the start of the Challenge Round, Logano once again found himself winning his second of the last three events, taking the checkers in dominating fashion and Kansas Speedway and again locking himself into the next round.  Another fourth-place finish at Charlotte and his first finish outside the top 10 at Talladega (an 11th after pushing Keselowski to the win) meant Logano was the series top-seed for the round of eight.

A fifth at Martinsville, 12th at Texas and sixth at Phoenix was enough to push Logano into the Championship Round, where he would be one of four drivers racing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Homestead Miami Speedway.

In Miami, the Shell-Pennzoil team came to battle for the ttitle and Logano found himself racing up front all day long.  However, a late-race pit miscue dropped Logano from the top-five to the tail end of the lead lap, eventually resulting in a 16th-place result and a fourth-place finish in the Sprint Cup Series point standings. 

When everything was said and done, Logano scored career highs in every major statistical category, including wins, top fives, top 10s, laps led, average start, average finish, lead lap finishes and points positions.

Away from the track, Logano continued to be a shining star.  The driver was the fifth-most mentioned and interviewed driver during race broadcasts.  His Joey Logano Foundation had events in several race markets, including the first-ever Hometown Showdown go-karting event in Connecticut.  And Logano was again crowed “King of the Cokes” by winning his third-straight Chug for Charity Championship and earning $77,000 for the Joey Logano Foundation by drinking Coca-Cola during TV interviews.

So as the calendar turned to 2015, Logano likely looked back on the past 12 months of his life and considered “did that just happen.” He probably smiled and said yes, and then thought “imagine what’s about to happen” in 2015 and beyond with Team Penske.