Joey Logano and his No. 22 team never want to experience anything close to their 2017 Cup season again.
Nobody ever wants to live through a “horror film” twice.
The Team Penske team failed to make the 16-car field in the Cup Series playoffs, which Logano thought was “kind of a given.”
Logano failed to score multiple wins for the second time during his five years with Team Penske. He visited victory lane once in his first year in 2013.
The failure to make the playoffs stemmed from Logano’s lone win, in April at Richmond Raceway, being encumbered for an inspection violation.
The team never fully recovered.
“I think after going through that and living that horror film, you don’t want to do that again,” Logano said last week during the NASCAR Media Tour. “There is plenty of motivation to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
After his encumbered win, Logano only managed one top-10 finish over the next eight races, placing third at Michigan.
“I would say it blindsided every one of us,” Logano said. “We didn’t think the penalty at Richmond was a big deal. We thought we would go win more races. No big deal. Then it was one thing after another and before we knew it our back was against the wall.”
In the back half of the season, Logano earned only two top 10s prior to the regular-season finale at Richmond. Logano almost exorcised his demons when came one spot shy of winning his way into the playoffs.
“Figures,” Logano said. “It is a feeling we never want to have again. We did not see that coming at all.”
A lack of “raw speed” from the No. 22 was the primary ingredient in the team’s woes, Logano said. But there’s “only so much work you can do” in the offseason to correct what needs to be.
But Logano said the most important lesson his team learned from 2017 is to be “a little more open-minded” going forward.
“We started to be open-minded at the end of the season,” Logano said. “We probably waited a little too long. When you find something that works for you and you are able to keep evolving off of that foundation that you built that works and you keep building off of something and then the rules change and things change and then all of a sudden that doesn’t work anymore, it is really hard to just knock over what you built and start all over. It is very challenging to get yourself to think that openly.”
Logano, his crew chief Todd Gordon and everything else, including how the team built its cars, “had to change.”
“I think that is what happens a lot of times in sports,” Logano said. “You see some of these great teams go out there and win a championship and then the next year you are like, ‘What happened to these guys?’ The sport changes. It evolves and you have to evolve with it and we are a little late to the game. If you look at the last five or six races we started running in the top-five more often.”
After his runner-up finish in the regular season finale, Logano raced to five top 10s and one top five over the last 10 races. He capped the season with a sixth-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Logano joined most Ford drivers at the NASCAR Media Tour in highlighting the possible benefits the new Hawkeye inspection system could have for the manufacturer.
“I have enough confidence and I am believing the stories my team is telling me that we are going to be really good this year,” Logano said. “I honestly do believe that. I think we will go out there and redeem ourselves. There is a little extra motivation there. … We know we are a championship team. Nothing has changed from two years ago when we almost won the championship. It is the same group. Nothing has changed. We know we can still do that. Let’s go.
“Is Daytona here yet?”