Joey Logano obviously punched his ticket last Saturday night for the Chase. He’s now the second driver, following Kevin Harvick, who has two wins already this season. I am seeing a lot of parallels of Joey’s season already with that of Brad Keselowski from a couple of years ago when he won the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
I think now Joey is ready for a legitimate title run in 2014. Obviously, the Chase format is dramatically different this year from when Brad won. You are going to have to win in the Chase to keep moving forward.
The real positive that I am seeing from Joey and his No. 22 team is they are fast everywhere. It doesn’t matter what type of track we go to because when they unload, they are fast. They are fast in practice, qualifying and the race. They just have the whole package right now. Even more important than that, they are closing the deal by winning races because, remember, we’ve only had nine races this season and the No. 22 has won two of them.
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I don’t see a reason in the world why Joey can’t win even more races during these 26 regular season events. Then when the Chase starts in mid-September, there’s no reason why he can’t be a legitimate threat to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
A lot of fans ask me why Joey has already been so successful at Team Penske, yet wasn’t so much at a great organization at Joe Gibbs Racing. Joey will be the first one to tell you that he simply wasn’t ready. He probably needed another year before being put in that No. 20 car. He was 18 years old and took over a car that had won forty-some races and two championships with Tony Stewart behind the wheel. Those are some seriously big shoes to fill.
It just seems like Joey didn’t fit there. Then a couple years into it when he wasn’t able to live up to the unreachable expectations folks had placed on him, the rumors started. Was Carl Edwards going to replace him? Was Matt Kenseth going to replace him? I just think it was constantly something there hanging over a very young man the whole four years he was at Joe Gibbs Racing. For that matter, I am not sure how much his teammates embraced him because I’m not sure they felt like he could add anything in those early years of his development.
I just think when the opportunity arose at Penske, he was 100 percent ready for a change. He went there with a lot of confidence because the loudest advocate for signing Joey was his new teammate, Brad Keselowski. That’s a huge confidence boost for a young man that is full of talent. Trust me, no one has ever questioned Joey’s ability behind the wheel.
The folks at Penske have told me this. As an organization, they are 100 percent of the belief that they are one organization that builds two cars. When you have that, combined with the resources of Team Penske, not to mention the overwhelming talent of Brad and Joey, well, you are going to win and win a lot.