When each season begins, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams know there are a select few competitors they are going to have to beat to compete for race victories every weekend and the elusive series championship throughout the season. Following another successful 2016 campaign, Joey Logano, Todd Gordon and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil/AAA/Autotrader Ford Fusion team solidified themselves as one of those special competitors for 2017 and beyond.
The 2016 season was filled with positive moments for Logano and the crew. 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.
In what can be called a breakout/career-defining/superstar-emerging season, Logano set the series on fire in 2015, earning career-best numbers in nearly every statistical category and finding himself atop the standings all season long. No longer was Logano just considered a tough competitor and occasional race winner, he was now one of the sports true stars and a force to reckoned with.
Logano’s seventh full-time NASCAR Cup Series season in 2015, couldn’t have started much better for the No. 22 crew. After posting solid finishes in the Unlimited and the Duel events in Daytona, Logano drove to the front and won the season-opening Daytona 500, marking the biggest victory of his career to date. Logano’s win was also the second Daytona 500 victory for Team Penske and it automatically earned him a berth into the Chase for the Championship for the third-straight season after the opening race of the year.
He started the season with seven-consecutive top-10 finishes, leading laps in six of the first seven events, which kept Logano at or near the top of the point standings (he was never positioned lower than fourth in the standings during the entire 26-race regular season). Finishes of 13th and 11th would then set up what turned out to be an amazing summer stretch and run into the “playoffs.”
In the first Pocono race in June, when Logano came home in fourth place, he began a run of an amazing 10 top-five finishes in the next 13 races, which set the No. 22 Ford team up perfectly for The Chase. During that impressive top-five run, Logano earned two victories, including his first-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win on a road course, coming at Watkins Glen. Not only did he earn his first road course Cup Series win that weekend, but he also earned his first NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) road course victory – and in the process, he produced his first career weekend sweep. Just two races later, Logano won the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway for the second-straight season.
Logano also demonstrated his new-found prowess for qualifying, as he earned four poles in the first 11 races of the season. Logano had just eight career poles coming into the season over the course of his first six years of Cup Series competition and ended the season with a series-best six poles.
In the Chase, Logano rattled off three top-10 finishes before dominating the Contender Round. Logano was in command at Charlotte, leading 227 of 334 laps, then followed that up by winning at Kansas Speedway to mark the first time he has ever earned back-to-back Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins. Logano then won yet again, this time at Talladega Superspeedway, becoming the first driver to ever sweep all the races in a single round of the Chase and just the second driver to ever win three-consecutive races in the Chase.
Unfortunately, an accident while leading at Martinsville Speedway and tire issues at Texas eliminated the team from Championship contention, but Logano’s season was nothing short of remarkable.
In the end, Logano led all Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers (and established career-high marks) in wins (six), poles (six), top 10s (28) and average starting position (6.9). Logano’s 22 top-five finishes ranked just one behind Kevin Harvick’s 23 and six better than then next best driver (Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 16). Logano led the second most laps of any driver (1,431 – also a career-best) and was one of only two drivers to make every start in 2015 and go the whole season without a DNF (did not finish).
Logano’s success wasn’t just limited to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series either. He earned four NXS wins, coming at Phoenix, Talladega, the Glen and Bristol (where Logano set a record in becoming the first driver to lead all 300 laps – the most laps ever led in a single NXS race). Logano also added his name to the list of drivers to win in all three of the NASCAR National Series when he won his first-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway driving for his Team Penske teammate’s team – Brad Keselowski Racing.
Logano’s road to NASCAR began when he was just six years old and he started competing in Quarter Midgets throughout the Northeast. He captured his first championship at the age of seven in the 1997 Eastern Grand National Championship in the Junior Stock Car Quarter Midget division. As he continued through the Quarter Midget ranks, he followed up his first title with Eastern Grand National Championships in 1998 and 1999.
Logano began racing Bandoleros in 1999 and quickly became the National Bandolero Bandits Champion. That same year he was also the youngest driver to compete in a Legends car when he made a start as a nine year-old racer.
The following year he captured the Bandolero division championships at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.
After winning the Bandolero titles, Logano moved on to Legends cars full time. He set a track record with 14-consecutive wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway at just 12 years old (a record that still stands today) and won the Young Lions National Championship in 2002. Logano also won the Pro National Championship that year, making him the youngest Pro Division Champion in Legends history. Logano then transitioned into Late Models, racing with the Georgia Asphalt Series and Southern All-Star Series while also making headlines by competing in the American Speed Association (ASA) National Tour, one of the most prestigious short track series in existence. In 2004 he competed in the ASA Late Model Series, where he earned five top-five and eight top-10 finishes.
In 2005, Logano took the next major step in his path to NASCAR when he was signed as a development driver by Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). As part of that development program, Logano made his debut just after his 15th birthday when he started competing in the USAR Hooter’s Pro Cup Series. He earned his first Pro Cup Series victory at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park in just his second start and tallied one win, six top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 14 starts that year. His incredible opening season prompted NASCAR veteran Mark Martin to call Logano the “real deal” at just 15 years of age. Logano followed up his successful first season by winning two additional races in the 2007 Pro Cup Series season.
Logano continued his ascent as a NASCAR driver in 2007 when he made his debut in the NASCAR West Series and visited Victory Lane in his first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Phoenix International Raceway. He also won the NASCAR Camping World East Series season-opening race en route to the NASCAR East Series Championship and Rookie of the Year titles with five wins, two poles, 10 top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in just 14 starts. Logano is also a two-time winner of the NASCAR All-Star Showdown, formerly held every year at Irwindale (Cal.) Speedway.
Having to wait to until he turned 18 due to the rules, Logano made his long-anticipated NASCAR XFINITY Series debut just a few days after his birthday at Dover International Speedway. He quickly found success when he secured his first pole in just his second-career start at Nashville Superspeedway and then became the youngest winner in XFINITY Series history when he won from the pole at Kentucky Speedway in his third start, just three weeks after his 18th birthday. He raced in a total of 19 NXS events that season and earned one win, three poles and 14 top-10 finishes.
Logano made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September of 2008 and made additional Cup Series starts at Kansas Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. In his first full NASCAR Cup Series season in 2009, Logano recorded his first career series victory when he took the checkered flag at Loudon. He went on to secure three top-five and seven top-10 finishes. With his early success on the track, Logano earned the distinctions of being both the youngest NASCAR Cup Series winner and pole winner at 19-years-old and the youngest Cup Series Rookie of the Year in the 55-year history of the award. Over his first four seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series prior to joining Team Penske, Logano earned two victories with his second coming in a duel with childhood idol Martin at Pocono Raceway.
Throughout the years, Logano has continued to be a dominant force in the XFINITY Series as well, including a record-setting 2012 season that saw the Middletown, Conn. native lead all series drivers with nine wins, six poles and 1,065 laps led while competing in just 22 of 33 races. Since joining the XFINITY Series in 2008, Logano has earned 21 wins, 26 poles (which ranks fifth on the all-time list), 69 top-five and 107 top-10 finishes in just 135 career starts.
After joining Team Penske after the 2012 season, Logano was an instant fit with the organization. He enjoyed a strong first season with the team in 2013 as he finished eighth in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after qualifying for his first-ever Chase or the NASCAR Cup, Logano won at Michigan International Speedway, earned two pole positions and claimed 11 top-five finishes, 19 top-10 results led 15 races and 323 laps while producing an average finishing position of 14.1. In addition to his NASCAR Cup Series success, Logano produced three wins in just 15 NASCAR XFINITY Series starts as he helped the No. 22 Discount Tire/Hertz Ford team secure the Owners’ Championship for Roger Penske.
In 2014, Logano and Gordon earned respect from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series field and solidified the team as a front-runner, winning five NASCAR Cup Series races (Texas Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, Kansas Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway) and qualifying for the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Ultimately, he would come home fourth in the point standings. At the time, he earned career-best numbers with five wins, 16 top-five finishes, 22 top-10 results and 993 laps led.
Between 2014-2015, no driver in the NASCAR Cup Series has won more races than Logano (11). And it’s that record of success, along with the fact that Gordon and most of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil /AAA/Autotrader Ford Fusion team will return intact in 2016, that has Logano fired up to defend his Daytona 500 victory and the NASCAR Cup Series field eyeing the No. 22 team as one of the title favorites this season.
You can read more about Joey's racing career from his website: