Joey Logano casually leaned against a wall facing a scrum of reporters and seemed to all but brush off being the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion.
Regardless of the question asked, the answers were similar. Be it about the accomplishment itself, how he’s felt since the season finale in November, or going into 2019 as the driver on top.
The championship has been great, Logano would say. There were plenty of celebrations, but it’s now in the past. The phrases “in the past” and “that’s over” were Logano’s stock lines; ones he pulled out more than once.
Logano has considered himself a former champion as of Jan. 1. With the ringing in of a new year came the closing of the book on his 2018 successes.
There have never been a shortage of big personalities inside the Team Penske camp, but Roger Penske has also never been one to let a driver’s ego get overinflated: something that Logano himself referenced, saying he’s been reminded not to trip over his own press clippings.
Alright, fine. That’s all well and good, but will being a champion change Logano going forward?
“Nun-uh,” Logano tells RACER with a small shake of his head.
“I always knew I could do it, but I guess you’ve proven to yourself now you really know how to do it. So, I guess there’s a little more confidence that comes along with that, but honestly, I said it after the race, the next morning I still changed a dirty diaper. Nothing changes, which is good.
“My life got a lot busier, and there’s things that change, but there’s still the constants that don’t change, and you don’t want them to. I still want to be Joey. I don’t want to be any different than I was.”
The more-than-three-foot-tall Monster Energy NASCAR Cup trophy won’t be getting flashed around. Logano doesn’t even have the trophy. Likening it to the NHL’s Stanley Cup going on tour, every member of the No. 22 team has been getting a month with it to do what they please.
The driver doesn’t expect to see it again until around June. For now, he has the championship flag given out during his celebration at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I guess that’s all I really need,” Logano said.
What about having that new patch on his Shell/Pennzoil suit? Under the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series logo, it now says “champion.”
“I got that to remind me plenty,” Logano smiles and laughs.
How did it feel seeing it for the first time?
“I guess that was kind of neat. It was at a photo shoot, we did the Shell shoot, and I put it on and was like, ‘Oh, I wonder if they got it on there yet?’ and I looked, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s so cool.’”
So, Logano was ready for it?
“Oh, I was looking for it. Yeah, you think about it. It’s one of the cool parts.”
Martin Truex Jr., who won the 2017 title, also got a kick out of seeing the patch when he got his firesuit last year.
“Did he? He said the same thing? That was the cool piece for him too? That’s kind of cool to know. Alright, so I’m not weird. I thought it was really cool. I always thought it was kind of neat. You go to driver intros and you talk to everyone and they got something like that on their suit, I mean, I want that badge. You got to earn it, you don’t get just them, you’re not just handing them out at the gas station. It’s something you have to work at pretty hard to be able to get, so that part is pretty neat.”
Putting a “2X” next to the “champion” on Logano’s firesuit won’t be easy. But he’ll have the same cast of characters – aside from a new jackman – alongside him chasing a repeat.
“We all got our first championship under our belt,” said Logano. ‘We’re ready to go now.”