It’s becoming a familiar sight. Joey Logano, in his yellow firesuit, standing on his No. 22 Pennzoil Ford with a steering wheel hoisted into the confetti filled air.
That’s been the scene in the Sprint Cup victory lane the past three weekends as Logano swept the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Logano accomplished the feat at Talladega Superspeedway, Kansas Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I didn’t think it was possible, I can tell you that much,” Logano said following his sixth win of the year. “Come to Chase time, everyone is bringing their ‘A’ game, everything they got, the best they can, not only with their race cars, but every driver is trying to find that extra little bit.”
At Talladega, that extra bit was his front fender being just ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s at just the right moment when a caution waved. Because of that, Logano now owns 11 wins in two years and five Chase victories.
Logano is looking to make a return to the championship round in Homestead. The 25-year-old who was once considered a near bust after two wins in five years at Joe Gibbs Racing has 12 wins since joining Team Penske in 2013.
This year alone, Logano has shown his versatility in winning at both restrictor-plate tracks, one road course (Watkins Glen International), one short track (Bristol Motor Speedway) and two 1.5-mile tracks.
Since that win at Watkins Glen, Logano has won five of the last 11 races.
“We were in situations throughout this Chase maybe we didn’t have (enough) to win, but our job is to win,” Logano said. “That’s what Roger Penske expects from us. He expects excellence. He expects us to win a lot of races.”
Penske, who also owns the No. 2 of Brad Keselowski, might expect a lot from his teams, but even he wasn’t anticipating Logano driving away from Talladega having swept the second round.
“I think if we sat down prior to this round and said somebody would win all three, they would have said you were crazy,” Penske said.
Penske’s two-car tandem has now combined for seven wins in 2015. It would need to win the last four races to equal its 11 wins in 2014.
If Logano were to win this weekend at Martinsville Speedway, he’d be the first driver to win four consecutive Chase races since Jimmie Johnson did it in 2007. That was during Johnson’s second championship campaign.
“We want the big trophy at the end of the year,” Logano said. “We want to win every trophy in between, but we want the big one at the end of the season.”
Logano, in his seventh full-time season in Sprint Cup, is looking for his first title and Penske’s second after winning with Keselowski in 2012.
“I don’t know if it’s been a rise or not. It’s just been a team that’s really come together when Brad came onboard. We saw some success in 2012,” Penske said.
“Having Joey be available to come on the team (in 2013), these guys have worked together,” Penske said. “I’ve said it before, with (Keselowski crew chief) Paul Wolfe, (Logano crew chief) Todd (Gordon), both of them coming up through the Nationwide or Xfinity Series gave them confidence, built that nucleus of people around the team.”
It’s that nucleus that has turned a would-be bust into one of the best drivers on the Sprint Cup circuit.