Season Review: Joey Logano
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on November 29, 2013 | 7:45 A.M. EST
Joey Logano finished a career-high eighth in the points in 2013. (Photo: Getty Images)
Joey Logano’s first season with Penske Racing resulted in a trip to Victory Lane and a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
After spending his entire NASCAR career as a member of Joe Gibbs Racing, Logano made the move to pilot the Shell/Pennzoil No. 22 Ford out of the Penske stable for 2013. It was a move he met with great anticipation prior to the season.
“I am very excited to join Penske Racing and begin the next phase of my career,” Logano said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity. It will be an honor to drive for Roger Penske and race for wins and championships.”
Logano came into the campaign with 147 Sprint Cup career starts and two victories. He added to that win total in 2013 but also was involved in some controversy along the way.
Logano made contact with Denny Hamlin late in the March visit to Auto Club Speedway as part of the duo’s intense battle on track. Hamlin lost control of his car and crashed hard into the inside retaining wall, contact that injured him and caused him to miss time behind the wheel.
After the race, there was an altercation on pit road, which came on the heels of an earlier incident with Logano and Tony Stewart on a restart.
"He is a tough guy on pit road as soon as one of his crew guys gets in the middle of it,” Stewart seethed in the aftermath of the incident. “Until then, he’s a scared little kid. Then he wants to sit there and throw a water bottle at me. He is going to learn a lesson. He can run his mouth on Twitter and stuff all he wants tonight. I’ve got plenty of people that are going to watch for that. It’s time he learns a lesson. He’s run his mouth long enough. He has sat there and done this double standard and he’s nothing but a little rich kid that has never had to work in his life. He’s going to learn with us working guys that had to work our way up how it works.”
Logano gave his view of the situation.
“Tony was just upset about the restart that I was racing him really hard on the bottom trying to make sure I protected my spot," Logano said. "What I was actually doing was I was racing (Kyle Busch) on the restart and he was spinning his tires. The rule is you can't beat him to the start-finish line, so I am pedaling it, which gave Tony the run underneath me. I wanted to block that because I knew if he put me three-wide that would be the end of my race and I wouldn't win. I was smart enough to realize that. Then I had to just do what I had to do to get to the front and try to win the race."
There was more controversy for Logano in April when the series moved to Texas. Both Logano and teammate Brad Keselowski were penalized for illegal rear end suspensions and punishment ultimately meant the suspension of crew chief Todd Gordon for a number of races.
Logano persevered and ran well through the summer stretch culminating with a win at Michigan International Speedway in August.
“We were trying to figure out how aggressive we needed to be and I am sure it is a conversation we will have this week,’’ Logano said after inheriting the lead from Mark Martin when he ran out of fuel four laps from the finish. “As long as we are consistent and keep knocking off top 10s like this team has been doing ... it is definitely a great help for our Chase hopes.’’
Logano did punch his ticket to the Chase but got off to a disappointing start. After winning the pole at the Chicagoland Speedway Chase opener, he left the race early with a blown engine.
His championship hopes never recovered from the blow. Although he put together a number of strong performances in the Chase, he wound up the year eighth in the standings.
Overall Logano notched 11 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in his debut season with Penske.
Motor Racing Network continues our countdown to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series awards banquet in Las Vegas with a look at the seventh-place finisher Clint Bowyer on Saturday, Nov. 30. MRN will broadcast the Awards banquet on Dec. 6 starting at 8 p.m. ET.