Statistically, a lot has happened for Joey Logano in one year.
A year ago, he came into New Hampshire Motor Speedway sitting 13th in points. He had a win, but it was tainted through an inspection failure. Struggling to turn things around, Logano eventually missed the playoffs.
This weekend, Logano is top five in the point standings with one victory. But instead of focusing on how he and his No. 22 Team Penske group can get better, Logano knows he’s going to the NASCAR postseason.
“The fact that we’re locked in the playoffs is great, but that’s only one part of it,” Logano said Friday morning before practice. “That’s not what the goal is. The goal isn’t to make the playoffs; the goal is to win the championship.”
Despite working on one of his most consistent campaigns, Logano acknowledged his team is not where they need to be to capture the title. But it’s closing the gap.
“We’ve just got to make some gains here, and we’ve got to make them pretty quick because the playoffs are right down the road from where we are right now,” Logano said. “We’ve definitely got to make some gains here soon, but the mindset isn’t any different. At this point last year my goal was still to win the championship and then we kind of realized we had bigger problems than even that.
“I think the mindset is always, ‘How can we be better? How can we work harder to find that advantage?’ That’s always a constant.”
Getting to that next step will take what Logano says is the perfect strategy and a great car. There is no margin for error during a race. What separates Logano and the rest of the field from the “Big 3” of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. is that those teams can overcome any issue because of how fast they are.
“We just have to be on our game right now to be able to win races, and I’m not saying we can’t,” Logano said. “We just have to be perfect, and it’s not easy – not that it’s ever easy to win a race, but the margin that we’re working with right now isn’t as big as what you see those top three cars at that are able to be consistently fast even if they’re car may not be quite perfect.”