A third-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway as “progress” for Joey Logano and his No. 22 Team Penske group.
“I would say we were a little bit of a lost puppy before the last couple of races,” chuckled Logano. “But I thought Kentucky we showed speed, once again (at Texas) we showed speed. Very similar racetracks, very similar setups, but we showed we had cars capable of winning with race scenarios happening and could run in the top two or three.
“That’s progress to me – that we ran well. Our pit stops have been great. Really, it’s just been the speed that we’ve been lacking, and we’ve made a good step to where we’re in contention to win again like we were earlier in the year. If you asked me that two weeks ago, I wouldn’t know how to answer it because I wouldn’t know where to start. But now I think we’re finding some answers and clues that start getting back to what we’re used to seeing out of the 22.”
Logano had fresher tires compared to the Richard Childress Racing cars he battled on the final few restarts Sunday. While Logano “could not believe it” when they held onto the top spots at a time when he thought they were sitting ducks, Logano congratulated the group for making the right call and executing.
Texas was Logano’s best result since winning at Phoenix back in March, before the COVID-19 shutdown. It was just his second top-five finish and sixth top-10 finish since NASCAR returned (14 races).
“It’s super-important,” said Logano of a day in which he also led 22 laps. “Our sport goes in cycles. It goes up, down. You go up, you go down, and when you’re down, you got to fight harder than ever trying to figure out where is it. The first place you look is always inward before anywhere else. Then you try to find your weaknesses and then start working on the. Whether that’s myself or within the team, all the way through.”
Logano has led 440 laps in the last 14 races and has four stage wins. However, the results have been mixed. Over the previous five races, his average finish is 17.6.
“I feel like we identified weaknesses, and we’ve been working on them to get them better,” Logano said. “Like I said, the progress that we’ve made, it feels really good. We’re not there. I don’t feel like we’re all the way back. We weren’t the fastest car, the 12 [Ryan Blaney] was the fastest today, but we’re in the ballpark now where before we were running down a lap, 20th or so.
“We’re closer. We can pass cars. The front end works now. We’re starting to see some reward for that.”