Joey Logano is hellbent on claiming a second NASCAR Cup Series championship Sunday at Phoenix Raceway, and crew chief Paul Wolfe likes the attitude.
“Joey is obviously very experienced,” Wolfe said. “I guess he’s probably the oldest guy in the field, and he’s pretty good, at this point, of being able to manage his emotions and what he thinks. I think he’s very driven and determined. It’s going to be hard to beat that on Sunday.”
The weekend is off to a good start for the Penske duo.
Wolfe had an extensive plan he wanted the No. 22 team to work through during the 50-minute practice Saturday night. Every box got checked, and Wolfe was left feeling encouraged by what he saw as Logano wound up seventh on the speed chart and fifth in the best 10 consecutive lap average.
Seeing all three Penske cars show speed off the hauler helps Wolfe feel good. Ryan Blaney was second quickest on the chart, and Rookie of the Year Austin Cindric was eighth fastest.
“It looks like we’ll have the speed to go along with (the attitude),” he said. “So, from there, it’s just executing the strategy and seeing how the race plays out. But, like I said, I was pleased with the speed we had and (Logano’s) on his A-game right now. I think he’ll be tough to beat on Sunday.”
A win three weeks ago at Las Vegas locked the No. 22 into the title race — Logano’s fifth appearance in nine years. It will be the second time the pair has competed for a title together, having finished third in 2020 — the year that still eats at Logano.
Phoenix would bookend a long but successful year for the veteran team. In addition to their three race wins, Logano was the first driver to win in the Next Gen car at the L.A. Coliseum.
Wolfe acknowledged it’s meaningful for the team to make the Championship 4 after such a long year. It’s been one filled with new variables — the car, new venues and the continued parity at the front of the field.
“I think it just shows, obviously, the strength of our team,” said Wolfe. “Any time we’ve had new challenges like this, I feel like we’ve been able to rise up. I said earlier in the week to someone — We started the season off with a win at the Coliseum, the first time this car was in competition, and there’s no better way than to finish it out with a win at the end of the season here and a championship.
“It was a lot of work — challenging, but also a lot of fun. That was the exciting part for me — going into the year was we had something new to work on and see who could figure it out the quickest. I think, even at this point in the season, we’re all still learning a lot and that will continue in the offseason as we get ready for Daytona.”