A year ago at this time, Joey Logano had won the Daytona 500 and was ranked second in the Sprint Cup point standings after the first nine races of the 2015 season.
One year later, and nine races into the 2016 campaign, Logano is still searching for his first win of the 2016 season.
Yet with the way he battled back from near the back of the field to finish eighth — the highest-placing Ford driver — in Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway, it was almost like a win for Logano.
To say it was one heck of a roller coaster day for Logano is an understatement.
He started on the outside of the front row before fading, dropping to 29th by Lap 100.
But methodically, and with the help of a few cautions, Logano was able to climb back up the field.
“I needed to find a different lane,” Logano said after Sunday’s race. “Every lane I found didn’t work. At the end it started to (work), and I felt like maybe a couple of more restarts and good pit stops, we could have track-positioned ourselves to be closer to the front and maybe squeak out a top-5 at the end.
“Taking a car from being the 35th place car to a top-5 car throughout a race is quite impressive for what my team was able to do today.”
Logano’s No. 22 team kept working at improving his car, particularly in the final quarter of the race, going from 20th on Lap 300 to ninth on Lap 360.
“It was great teamwork,” he said. “Everyone kept working hard. Those are great opportunities to implode internally as a race team and completely throw away a whole race and start yelling and screaming at each other, but there was not one moment of that today from my team.
“Everyone was very methodical about the changes, and we tried things that didn’t work, so we went the other way, and it started to work for us. I am proud of the effort from my team today. We need to make the cars a little faster, but I am proud of the effort.”
Logano dropped from fourth to fifth in the Sprint Cup point standings, but he’s only 32 points behind new points leader Carl Edwards.