Joey Logano continues to note the similarities between his successful NASCAR Cup Series title chase in 2018 and this season.
The Team Penske driver reiterated that during Championship 4 Media Day earlier this week. Just like two years ago, Logano said his No. 22 team did not have the best summer. But as the playoffs started, things swung upward. And just like that season, in which he would go on to win the championship, Logano began the third round by winning to lock himself into the finale.
“It’s funny because I brought this up to my guys, I don’t know, a month and a half or so before the playoffs started,” said Logano. “I said, ‘Hey, you never know; you just got to keep fighting. You never know when the tides are going to turn, and the next thing you know, you’re up there in contention to win every week, and then also race for a championship.’
“We went from in the summer months searching for a direction to make our car faster to being in contention to win. And now, in my eyes, like I said in 2018, feeling like you’re the favorites by winning the first race in the third round. I honestly feel that way again.
“Interesting how it’s kind of lining up to be the same. Hopefully, it lines up to be the same all the way to the end. A lot of things can happen between now and then, (but) I like our chances; I like where we’re at. We’ll go out there to Phoenix and give it a shot.
“Like I said, it just feels a lot like 2018 so far.”
Asked why he feels so strongly about his chances, Logano brought up the speed of his Team Penske Ford and his experience. Logano won at Phoenix in the spring, a race that gave teams their first glimpse of how the high horsepower, low downforce aero package would be a variable for championship weekend. Furthermore, in the last four races, Logano has one win and four straight top-10 finishes. He’s led 157 laps in the playoffs.
On the experience side, Logano has the most experience of the four title contenders, this being his fourth appearance in the Championship 4. And he is the only one of the four to have won a championship under this format.
Another advantage Logano sees is that his crew chief, Paul Wolfe, has also been here and done that. Wolfe has been in the Championship 4 multiple times and is the only crew chief among those in contention this weekend who has previously won a title (he did so in 2012 with Brad Keselowski).
“I think any time you’ve been in these situations before, you know how to prepare for them,” Logano said. “It’s my fourth time; I know what’s coming my way. Yes, it’s at a new track, but I know what the week is like going into it; I know how to prepare for it.
“Same thing for Paul. (He) has been in the Championship 4 before. He’s won a championship with the other playoff format, but he’s been there in high-pressure moments. He knows how to prepare for it.”
Wolfe said earlier this week that his preparation for Phoenix has been quite different since the team locked in early. It was a new position for Wolfe to be in but familiar ground for Logano.
“We’ve had three weeks to think about it, be ready for it,” said Logano. “With those things, I feel more confident than ever. I always go back to think about my first Championship 4 round back in 2014. I remember crapping my pants about how nervous I was. If I’m being honest, I was very nervous. I had everything on the line for the first time. I didn’t know if I’d ever get back into the Championship 4 again. You didn’t want to blow the opportunity; you just wanted to make sure you made the most of it.
“Now, going through it before, knowing how to prepare for what’s coming, that battle ahead of you, and knowing you succeeded before in the championship round, it really gives you some confidence to go out there and do your job.”