Joey Logano on why he signed an extension with Team Penske and what the future holds
By Jeff Gluck
August 24, 2022
Joey Logano isn’t going anywhere.
With a seven-year contract set to expire at the end of the 2023 season, Logano and Team Penske have already reached an agreement on another long-term contract extension that will keep the 32-year-old in the No. 22 car for “years to come.”
Though the exact length was not disclosed by Penske in making its Wednesday announcement, it’s clear Logano has no intentions of finding a new home after joining the team in 2013 following an unceremonious release from Joe Gibbs Racing.
Team owner Roger Penske salvaged Logano’s NASCAR career and gave him an opportunity to thrive, and it’s paid off; almost all of his success has occurred in the 22 car, including 27 of his 29 career NASCAR Cup Series wins, the 2018 Cup title and four appearances in the Championship 4.
But why wouldn’t Logano want to test the market before re-upping with Penske? Logano spoke about that topic and more during a conversation with The Athletic in which he shed light on his mindset, shared thoughts about his position within the team and reflected on society as a whole. (This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.)
Why did you want to go this route and continue with Team Penske?
The loyalty piece is probably the biggest thing. I just feel at home at Penske. I agree with the way things are run there and the way Roger is. I feel very loyal for that reason.
On top of that, it’s an amazing opportunity. Take the loyalty piece out for a second and look at more of a global view, like if you were to come in as a new driver to this 22 car. You have Shell that’s been there for 15 years and they’re a very solid sponsor who is looking for ways to continue to grow within motorsports. You have a company in Penske that has three cars pretty much sold up (with sponsorship). So you want to be in something solid that is going to be here for awhile.
From my point of view having been here for 10 years, those relationships are already grown. There’s a history there. I know who does what and who to go to. And it feels like I can really be involved as a leader. If I were to jump ship, I’m starting all over to a certain point. I don’t want to do that.
And I recognize I’m in a great spot. Even when you take the loyalty piece out, you say, “Well, what other car would you want to drive?” And there really isn’t one. So it makes it a no-brainer.
I’m sure it’s nice to have your future secured, but is there any fear at all in committing to something long term without knowing what the NASCAR landscape will look like years from now?
No. I’m coming off a seven-year deal and I wasn’t concerned about signing that one, either. It’s because of who it is. There are other teams I would be more concerned about signing that long of a deal with. But Roger Penske wins. Now there may be some ups and downs. We may not be the fastest every single year. But if you look at the last 10 years, we’ve never been worse than a third-place organization. That’s pretty solid, right? There have been times we were the best and times when we were second or third. No one is going to be on top the whole time, but you know we’re always at least going to be a top-three team. You’ll take that.
What kind of peace of mind does a long-term deal offer you?
This allows me to focus and not to have the distraction of negotiating contracts. I hate that. I enjoy it to a certain point, but I also don’t like uncertainty. I like knowing what I’ve got and then focusing on doing my job. Because you’re not necessarily doing your job when you’re spending hours upon hours negotiating contracts, right? It’s not what you’re getting paid to do, and it becomes something that’s on your mind too much. And to do that every year or every two years, it’s just not what I’m into.
You’re 32 years old and you’ve got your future secured for a while racing-wise. You’ve got your family with a wife and three kids. You’ve got a side business with Clutch Studios. It feels like everything is coming together for Adult Joey. Are you feeling content?
I’m proud of the success we’ve had, but I’m never complacent. I’m never saying it’s good enough. Roger is the same way. He’s always looking for more, and that’s attractive to me in a person. If you’re like that, you want to be around other people like that.
My family is great, right? Yeah, I’m happy and complacent there. That’s a good place to be. But in business, I’m not even close to complacent or happy or feeling like it’s enough. I want more. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, especially when you’re 32 years old. Maybe things will change when I’m 50, but I’m still young. I have a long road ahead of me and I have a lot of opportunities that are still going to come my way.
I’ve taken advantage of as many of those opportunities as I can, so I have no regrets. I’ve won some races and lost some. I’ve won some business deals and lost some deals. But I’ve become smarter every time, and I’ve enjoyed that part.
I can’t call the future. I don’t know what’s going to happen four, five, six years from now. All I know is I have a solid place to work, I’ve got a solid race car and a solid race team. I can go win with that. And when you win, all the other opportunities come along with it.
Do you have specific goals, like win totals or championships, you want to achieve in this next contract or before your career ends?
I want to win every one of them. I’ve never put a number on it and said, “I want to get to 50 wins” or a certain amount of championships. I’m not looking that far down the road. I’m focused on the next one: “How do I win this race? I want to win this one.” And then it’s onto the next one.
It’ll be cool to see where you end up on the all-time wins list. I like how people keep up with that and I look it up, too. I like knowing. But I don’t say, “Man, I want to make sure I’m 20th on the chart or fifth on the chart.” It’s just, get all you can and see where you stack up. And that’s how it is in the race, too: the goal is to pass the guy in front of you and then worry about the next one.
With Brad Keselowski no longer at Penske, do you feel like you have more of a powerful voice internally with the team and people are listening to what you have to say? And do you use your voice in that way?
Absolutely. I don’t use it in a way to dictate what should happen, because I don’t want to lead that way. I don’t believe I’m the smartest person in the room. But I do believe I’m one of the best communicators in the room a lot of times and can help draw some things out of people. I like leading that way: Let’s get everyone’s opinion and make a solid decision from there, whether that’s with Penske or Ford.
I look at the position I’m going to be in. It’s not only at Team Penske where I’m going to be the senior driver or whatever you want to call me; even at Ford, I’m not too far away from being that as well. But I can only lead as a driver. There are a certain amount of things where I shouldn’t be leading or steering the ship. So it’s best we all work together, because I’m not right all the time. And it’s important to know that. I’m OK being wrong, but it’s good to get everyone’s opinion.
When you talk about your communication style, is that referring to gathering various opinions from other people on the team?
It’s talking to people. When I have an opinion, I’m very vocal about it because it’s solid and I’m 100 percent on it, and I’ll drive that home hard. But I’m usually not like that until I talk to people and ask the questions. There are times you have to make quick decisions, but it’s usually better to get the full story first because there are always two sides to every story — even when you’re going through data. No matter what you’re looking at, even in life, it’s far more complex than on first glance.
There aren’t going to be many drivers left in NASCAR who stay with one team for this length of time. The consistency is becoming very difficult. Do you take any sort of pride in that?
Absolutely. I look at what Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson did. They played their whole career there. Tom Brady was doing that with the Patriots. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out to where he could end his career there. But it was looking like he was that guy, and there’s some brand identity there that has a lot of value to it. We’re stronger together for those reasons.
There’s less loyalty in this world than ever before. That’s for any job. Just look at the way people jump around these days. No one stays in the same place for more than three years, it seems like. It’s unheard of to see the 10- or 15-year tenures anymore. I don’t know what changed with people. Marriages don’t seem to make it, people don’t seem to stay at work and everyone jumps ship instead of trying to fix it and talk about it. I don’t know why our society has gone that way. But I don’t want to be like that. I want to commit, stay committed and go to work.
Why don’t you have the restlessness that others might?
People always think the grass is greener on the other side, but it’s just fertilized with shit. (Laughs) It’s easy to look at the neighbor’s yard and think they’ve got it all figured out, but everyone has got a little bit of garbage that’s not perfect. Everyone has a little something in their lives they’ve got to get through. Race teams are no different. So if you’re just jumping ships from one to the other, you’re not fixing anything. You’re just taking the easy way out.