When Joey Logano posted consecutive 40th-place finishes at Daytona and Loudon, dropping to 18th in the standings, his freshman season with Penske Racing appeared destined to end the same as his previous campaigns – outside the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™.
Instead of disappearing into irrelevancy, Logano and crew chief Todd Gordon caught fire. Beginning with an eighth-place finish at Indianapolis, the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford hasn’t finished outside the top 10 in five straight starts.
Logano won at Michigan several weeks ago, giving the team a shot at a Chase Wild Card entry. The 23-year-old Connecticut driver wasn’t satisfied with that, following the victory with a hard-fought fifth-place in a battered Fusion that moved Logano into 10th-place in the standings.
It’s a theme that sounds very familiar for the 23-year-old out of Middletown, Conn. Logano has rebounded before, earlier this season. After starting 2013 with four consecutive finishes outside the top 10, Logano chimed in with a third at Auto Club Speedway to catapult him to ninth in the standings. It was the first of three stints in the top 10 in points for Logano this season.
Now Logano must take what he’s earned and keep it going for two more races.
Atlanta, statistically speaking, will be a challenge. Logano’s best performance, 18th, came in last year’s AdvoCare 500. In six races at the 1.54-mile superspeedway, he has an average finish of 26.0 and Driver Rating of 56.5. Both are worst among drivers ranking among the current top 12.
“I’ve never really run great there,” he said of his previous tenure with Joe Gibbs Racing. “I’ve run in the top 10 but I’ve never really had a car that’s been able to go up there in the top five or anything like that.
“”But, like I’ve said, we’re not gonna go in there thinking that we’re gonna have a bad run.”