Off to a great start with his win in the Busch Light Clash, Logano becomes the No. 1 driver in the Team Penske stable now that Brad Keselowski has moved on

Sports Illustrated | | Written By: Brian Eberly | Feb. 16, 2022

It’s been a fantastic start to 2022 for Joey Logano, who became the first driver to win in the Next Gen car when he took the checkered flag in the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 6.

One day later, the Connecticut native and wife Brittany welcomed their third child.

And now with long-time teammate Brad Keselowski becoming a co-owner at RFK Racing and moving to the No. 6 Ford, Logano is now the senior leader at Team Penske heading into the 2022 campaign.

While the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion doesn’t feel that the organizational changes have added any extra weight to his shoulders, it has helped him prioritize his time in different ways.

“I have this whole motto this year: ‘to do less better,'” Logano said during Wednesday’s annual NASCAR Media Day at Daytona International Speedway. “It is just something that came to my mind: try to do less things but do better at the things you do and try to prioritize my time better.”

The 31-year-old Logano is embracing his new role as team leader at Team Penske. He’s always kind of been in Keselowski’s shadow, but now is his time to shine.

“Part of that is being a better leader at Team Penske and taking that ball and running with it,” Logano said. “That is a piece of it. (Ryan) Blaney has stepped up a lot already too.

“Nothing against our two other teammates in Austin (Cindric) and Harrison (Burton), but they are rookies and are new to it and we have to help get them going so that we can really share information back and forth, not just one way. That takes time. It took time for me as a rookie to get my head wrapped around things and it took time for Blaney. It takes time for everyone.

“I think we can really help them along with their progression quicker and ultimately make Team Penske stronger and eventually be able to learn from them. That is what I want. I want a teammate that will push me and I can learn from and they will get there for sure.”

Logano is looking for his second Daytona 500 win, having done so to kick off the 2015 season. But he’s struggled for decent finishes in the last two editions of the 500, finishing 26th in 2020 and 12th in 2021 — with both races ending prematurely for him after being involved in crashes.

And let’s not forget how the overall 2021 season turned out as a whole. Logano finished eighth, tying his second-lowest showing since 2012. He also earned just one win last season, his fewest wins since one win each in 2013 and 2017.

But he hopes 2022 — both the 500 and the season — is much different and better.

While there have already been several firsts for the Team Penske veteran this year, he doesn’t see it changing his approach to racing in Thursday evening’s Duels or Sunday afternoon’s main event, the 64th Daytona 500.

“I don’t see myself racing any different in the Duel than I will in the 500,” Logano said. “I am planning to go race. I think as soon as you get scared of crashing and those type of things, you are never going to win. So I am going to go race and if we crash, so be it, we will figure it out.

“I don’t really know exactly how the Duels are going to look (with the Next Generation car). All I can control is what I am going to do.”

The “do less better” mantra also may need to apply to bump drafting over the course of 500 miles in the Great American Race, as the round bumpers on the Next Gen car could lead to some hairy situations as the laps wind down and drivers vie to hoist the Harley J. Earl trophy.

“The round bumpers are probably the biggest difference with this thing,” Logano said of the Gen 7 car. “Obviously, the air around the cars and how you draft is very different but the round bumpers – I don’t know why we put round bumpers on a race car but we did. It is like pushing two marbles against each other. You don’t know which way it is going to go. It really can upset the cars.

“My thought is that at the end of this thing when everyone starts pushing each other like normal and nobody lifts and is shoving each other through the next car, those round bumpers are going to send the car to the left or the right pretty big and probably the car next door and cause a big crash. That is going to be in our minds.

“There are still plenty of other questions we have, whether it is pit stops and strategy or mileage and how the draft works in general without thinking of the pushing part. Lots of questions still.”