MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Joey Logano had trouble getting to sleep Thursday night after intentionally choosing some viewing unsuitable for bedtime: the previous Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway.
It was the NASCAR equivalent of watching a blood and guts horror movie for the Team Penske driver.
“Went to sleep not very happy,” Logano said. “But ready to go.”
He proved that Friday, winning his third consecutive pole at the 0.526-mile oval where he still is seeking a breakthrough victory. Last fall, he was 50 laps from victory lane – and a berth in the championship round of the playoffs – when he intentionally was wrecked out of the lead by Matt Kenseth, who was running nine laps down.
It ruined any shot Logano had at winning his first championship, but the No. 22 Ford driver said it might have taught a more important lesson than winning the title.
“It’s hard to erase from your mind,” Logano said. “It’s there. It happened. It is something that drives you. You have to use things like that to motivate you and your team. Rewatching the race, if that doesn’t give you fire, nothing does. I felt really excited and jacked up to come to this racetrack and show what we’re made of.
“It is a motivator. You should use things to fire you up, to have that right attitude. That drive is something I’ve learned is another step. Being able to reach that and achieve that on a consistent basis is something I find very important to reach. I definitely used that as something that was a good thing. It’s hard to take something good out of the day, but I found something that was larger than a championship in my eyes.”
Martinsville found something positive in the incident, too – heavily featuring the controversial wreck (which resulted in a two-race suspension for Kenseth) in its ticket promotions.
Kenseth said Wednesday he was conflicted about the track’s use of the wreck in marketing, and Logano took a similar tack Friday.
“I can’t blame them,” Logano said. “You’re trying to sell tickets, right? In my eyes, is it great racing that happened? No. Did it draw a lot of attention to the speedway? Yes. If I ran the racetrack, would I do that? Yeah, I would. I get it.”
He laughed while recalling his violent September 2009 wreck at Dover International Speedway, where his car barrel-rolled several times down the concrete. When he returned the next season, a hologram inside a track program showed Dover’s mascot, Miles, continually slamming Logano’s car into the pavement.
“Wow,” Logano said with a laugh while recalling the program. “That kind of sucks from my point of view. But everyone else probably thought that was a big moment in that race. Sometimes you can’t look at everything through your lens, particularly. You have to look through other lenses and look at a bigger picture and scope than that.”