Joey Logano has a chance to become a two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion after his Kansas Speedway win earned a spot in the Championship 4.
Logano’s third win of the season came more than seven months after his last at Phoenix in March. Logano’s march to the championship finale is reminiscent of when he won the title in 2018, when he also was victorious early in the season and didn’t win again until the opening race of the Round of 8.
The Team Penske driver is hoping the rest of that similar scenario repeats this year with a second title.
"To me it kind of feels a lot like 2018 where we kind of had a lull in the middle of season through summer months and then as the Playoffs came around speed started picking up," Logano said. "As we go through the Playoffs you win a couple key races and you find yourself in the championship hunt just like that.
"That’s the way Playoffs are in any sports. It’s crazy how quick things can happen and how things change so quickly but you know, it’s kind of feeling the same where we’ve been slowly picking up some speed, becoming more and more competitive. We kind of jumped on the opportunity to win a race at Kansas."
Logano’s journey to the Championship 4 this time around has a couple of other differences than his last go around. There was the two month NASCAR shutdown for the COVID-19 that kept the series idle until the middle of May. Plus, Logano was paired with a new crew chief in Paul Wolfe as part of the organization’s personnel shuffle in the off-season.
Although they won two of 2020’s first four races, it took Logano and Wolfe some time to get synced working together, as the relationship has gone on it is paying some big dividends.
"Paul’s done an amazing job," Logano said. "I think where Paul shines probably the most is his strategy. He’s always been known to be the guy that’s not scared to do two tires or do fuel only or do something to get track position back. I’ve been beaten by him plenty times with Brad (Keselowski)."
"Well, that was us this in Kansas. We ran, you know, tenth or so the majority of the race. We take two tires, we get close to the front. Some good pit stops and some good restarts and next thing, you know, we’re in the lead and we win. Those are the things that I’ve seen happen for years. So, to have Paul on my side I think is really going to help stack up those victories."
Logano has a couple of chances to add more wins to his total this week at Texas and the following Sunday at Martinsville. But the heavy lifting is over in terms of his making the championship race. He can set his sights on Phoenix and know should that turn out to be his fourth victory of the year it will be the most important carrying with it another Cup championship trophy.
However, he knows it won’t come easy.
"I think you can expect an amazing race at Phoenix," he said. "You’re going to expect a lot of intensity. It’s going to be a tough race. Nothing’s going to be easy. Every time you’ve seen this Championship race, although we’re not in Miami, those Championship 4 cars were usually all next to each other, racing each other hard and for the win. You’re going to expect the same probably throughout that race."