Lately, Joey Logano has been good but not great. But a visit to the Bluegrass State might be just the ticket back toward the path of excellence for the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Fusion.
In late April, Logano won at Richmond International Raceway to score his second victory of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and clinch a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Since then, his results frankly have been pedestrian: In the last seven races, Logano’s average finish has been 17.286, with his only top-five finish a fourth-place run at Kansas Speedway.
The silver lining, besides being locked into the Chase?
That would be Logano’s performance on 1.5-mile tracks this season.
Check it out: Logano has four top-five finishes at 1.5-mile tracks this year, most of any NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, and an average finish of 5.30, second only to the 4.80 rung up by Jeff Gordon. Logano has led 215 laps on 1.5-mile tracks, a number that trails only Jimmie Johnson (222) and Kevin Harvick (243).
And, oh by the way, Logano is pretty good at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway, the site of Saturday night’s Quaker State 400. Last year, Logano finished fourth in this race and he has three NASCAR Nationwide Series victories here — all from the pole — including the first of his career in 2008, less than a month after his 18th birthday.
All of which bodes well for a strong run under the lights on Saturday night, which also happens to be Logano’s 200th career Sprint Cup start, a big number considering he just turned 24 years old in May.
"I’ve often answered the question of what I think about my career up to this point," said Logano, who comes into this race seventh in the Sprint Cup points standings. "And I will always say the same thing about it. I did start early. And did I start earlier that I should have? Was I ready? Probably not."
That said, Logano professes no regrets about replacing Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, a move that ultimately did not pan out but gave him valuable experience early in his career.
"It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up and I would do it all again the same way," said Logano. "I learned a lot through my struggles early on and that had taught me a lot that I know today. I don’t think I would be in the position that I am today without those early struggles."
And while Logano will be one of the favorites on Saturday, he has no illusions about winning another race from the pole at Kentucky.
"The track is so much different now than it was even when I won all those Nationwide Series races. It’s a lot bumpier now," said Logano. "And the competition in the Sprint Cup Series is just so much better, so it would be tough. I like to think we could do it, but that’s tough to go to a track and win two in a row, let alone three in a row. Especially all of them from the pole. You just don’t see that kind of stuff in the Sprint Cup Series anymore, because the competition has gotten so tough."