No Drama For Logano

Joey Logano

It's hard not to smile for Joey Logano with the way he's run this year. (Photo: Getty Images)

TALLADEGA, Ala. - Think about this for a moment.

At this time a year ago, Joey Logano:

# Had contact with Denny Hamlin at Bristol on the track and a brief confrontation afterward.

# Lost the lead on the last lap at Auto Club Speedway in a duel with Hamlin that resulted in Hamlin crashing and being injured.

# Was confronted by Tony Stewart after that race, Stewart upset with how Logano raced him earlier.

# Watched as his car just got through inspection in time to start at Texas, leading to penalties for he and teammate Brad Keselowski and their teams.

“A lot of things stacked up against us at this point last year,’’ Logano said, “but we were still fast. We were in the middle of all the drama it seemed like every week no matter what it was. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but that shows how tough my team is because we fought through that and were able to get that win at Michigan and make the Chase last year after all that. 

“That says something about a team right there, and now this year, so far, knock on wood, we’ve been able to cut out the drama and I think you see those results for some of that reason and also having another year under your belt with the team.’’

Logano enters this weekend’s Aaron’s 499 certain he’ll be in the Chase after his second victory of the season. He and Kevin Harvick are the only drivers to have won more than one race a quarter of the way through the season.

It’s quite a change from all that he went through last season in his first year at Team Penske.

So far, the only issues others have had with Logano is trying to catch him. He’s the only driver to make it through every round of qualifying. His five top-five finishes are tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for most this season. And there are those two wins.

“Obviously, the chemistry keeps building - myself and (crew chief) Todd Gordon are clicking right now and he’s giving me what I need and I’ve been able to do my job,’‘ Logano said. “That’s why you see those race results there – we cut out the drama, and we’re able to build off a year of getting to know each other and being able to use that to our advantage.’’

Logano’s victories this season have come on an intermediate track (Texas) and a short track (Richmond). He had never won a Cup race on a short track before this season. He’s never won a Cup race on a restrictor-plate track. Could it happen this weekend?

“It’s risk versus reward,’‘ Logano said. “How aggressive you are to making those blocks and making sure you get those runs and pushes and sometimes it might be a small hole, but if you can make it work it pays off. There is a lot of skill that goes into winning a race like this, but it’s a lot different skill than what we do every other week, and it’s a lot more of a crapshoot. A lot more plays in to it here because other people determine what your future is.’’               

Motor Racing Network – "The Voice of NASCAR" – will have live coverage of Sunday's Aaron's 499 from Talladega Superspeedway at noon (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.

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