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Joey Logano wants another NASCAR Cup Series title: “It’s all about the trophy”

Joey Logano remembers every thing about profitable the NASCAR Cup Series title in 2018.

“It was higher than I believed it was going to be,” Logano stated. “It was superb. The entire expertise is burned in my thoughts endlessly.”

Some would say that with the elimination championship format, simply making it to the ultimate spherical is the accomplishment. Simply being considered one of the 4 drivers who has a shot at the title is the true aim due to the unpredictable nature of a one-race, top-finishing driver takes all format.

Logano would not agree.

“Championship 4 appearances are cool,” Logano stated. “Having 5 of them is particular, as a lot as anyone, that is cool.

“But it is all about the trophy.”

So how will Logano get that trophy this 12 months? In a considerably completely different trend than he did for his first one since 2018. He will do it with a very new group of individuals and a very new automotive than he had 4 years in the past.

Some would possibly say the new automotive is the largest distinction. To hear Logano speak, the group he now works with at Team Penske can also be very completely different, that includes crew chief Paul Wolfe, who gained a title with Brad Keselowski in 2012, at the helm as an alternative of Todd Gordon.

Wolfe and Logano had a shot at the title of their first 12 months collectively in 2020, they usually got here up brief as Logano fought an ill-handling automotive at the finish. They get another shot Sunday at Phoenix Raceway with Logano battling Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell and Chase Elliott. The high finisher amongst these 4 will earn the Cup title.

Logano and Wolfe are attempting to turn into the first crew chief-driver pairing who have already got gained a Cup title to win it with a distinct driver and crew chief. Drivers have gained with completely different crew chiefs. Crew chiefs have gained titles with completely different drivers. But all these instances, both the driver or the crew chief was profitable their first title.

In a means, that is smart. Good driver-crew chief mixtures have a tendency to remain collectively. And perhaps there is usually a dynamic that when drivers or crew chiefs have already gained a title, they’re a little bit set of their methods so it’s higher to match the expertise of a champion with somebody nonetheless making an attempt to acquire the final prize.

But each Wolfe and Logano appear to flourish working collectively. They have seven wins and 32 top-five finishes collectively. In the three earlier years with Todd Gordon, Logano earned six wins and 35 top-5s.

“The means Paul leads is completely different than the means Todd leads,” Logano stated. “They are each nice — championship caliber, clearly. They each gained championships as a result of they’re each actually, actually good. Their method is polar-opposite, 180 levels.

“I needed to alter to the means Paul wants to do issues. But it has been good. It’s made me a greater driver.”

Logano stated Wolfe, a former driver, tends to make use of previous expertise at a race monitor a little bit extra liberally than Gordon.

“He’s a little bit bit extra old style … Todd was very simulation-driven the place Paul is extra actual world [of] this has labored in the previous,” Logano stated. “So he makes use of his engineers rather a lot to work with simulation, however he is additionally very a lot, ‘This is what’s labored right here in the previous, let’s not get too far forward.’ He’s type of a realist.”

Wolfe stated that comes not less than partially from being a former driver and never being an engineer.

“It’s type of going together with your intestine,” Wolfe stated. “I’ve tried to embrace the engineering aspect over the years to make me stronger. I really feel like what works finest is we now have a variety of proficient engineers in our firm.”

When they have been teammates, that allowed Wolfe and Gordon to work nicely collectively as crew chiefs at Penske. They challenged one another to take a look at issues in different methods.

While they could speak about what labored in the previous, Logano stated he would not have any “Todd Gordon did it this fashion” moments with Wolfe and Wolfe has not had any “Well, Keselowski did it this fashion” moments with Logano.

Joey Logano wins at Las Vegas

Joey Logano passes Ross Chastain late to win at Las Vegas and advance to the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.

“I believe we each had sufficient respect for one another and previous success that we by no means actually had these conversations,” Wolfe stated. “Everyone wants one thing completely different to carry out at 100%. … You cannot sit right here and say we’re going to do the issues we did with Brad and assume you are going to have the similar success.”

The staff additionally has completely different individuals, so either side tailored to one another’s strengths.

“The staff is totally completely different,” Logano stated. “The individuals round are completely different. You cannot simply say, ‘It’s only a completely different crew chief.’ Every participant on the staff is completely different. So you’ll be able to’t lead the similar means.

“What it takes to make somebody tick is completely different for every particular person. It’s apples and oranges. … I used to be stunned how reverse it was from one another.”

Wolfe stated the similar may very well be stated about the two drivers he has labored with at Team Penske.

Keselowski and Logano each have a method on the monitor of pushing the concern and making aggressive strikes — they definitely have a ‘no pals on the monitor’ mentality. But Wolfe discovered when he began working with Logano just a few years in the past that Logano shouldn’t be a Keselowski clone.

“How a lot completely different it has been for me working with Brad after which the transition to Joey, they’re each clearly very profitable and are champions in the sport, however their method is a lot completely different,” Wolfe stated. “And their strengths and weaknesses, clearly, are completely different.

“So that took some adjusting for me.”

The distinction is available in what info the drivers need previous to the race.

“Brad was far more concerned with the technique aspect of it and the way we wished to play the race and people issues,” Wolfe stated. “Joey is extra targeted on getting all he can get out of the automotive, ensuring he’s prepared, 100% in all the time.

“I needed to study to type of do a few of these issues Brad and I used to do collectively so far as planning out a race and the way we have been going to run the technique, these sort of issues I needed to study to do with myself and the engineers.”

One distinction in the championship run this 12 months that might rank as particular is the new Next Gen automotive. Logano gained the first “race” of the Next Gen period when he claimed the trophy in the exhibition Clash two weeks earlier than the Daytona 500.

“The problem of the Next Gen automotive and having the ability to do it will be particular,” Logano stated. “Winning the Clash was particular in the Next Gen automotive. That made it a little bit bit extra particular as a result of it is the first race with it — you gained the first race, there’s some delight in that.

“It’d be the similar factor profitable the first championship in that automotive, the challenges that the 12 months introduced on and all that, saying that you just have been capable of adapt and alter to it shortly would imply rather a lot.”

One factor Logano will not attempt to change shall be his preparation. He has confidence in his method, one thing that has been fine-tuned over the final decade.

“I’ve been right here sufficient to know what to do,” Logano stated. “And it has been profitable. I keep in mind (the) first one, I used to be a nervous wreck. Just a nervous wreck, which rightfully so — you’ve got by no means been there earlier than, your dream is on the line, you do not know in case you’re ever going to be there once more.

“[You feel] like that is the first time I made it. Maybe I’ll by no means make it once more. But now it is simply such a bigger consolation feeling in that second for myself, and that angle is contagious to the staff. As a frontrunner, that is a giant deal.”

Needless to say, Logano wants to expertise that feeling of consolation to euphoria once more. The worst factor that would occur Sunday is to complete second or get wrecked battling for the win.

To win a second championship would rank first or second on his listing of accomplishments.

“That was my aim my entire life,” Logano stated about profitable the championship. “Like that is all I wished. There was nothing else in the sport I wished to perform greater than win a championship. I did not care about profitable the [Daytona] 500 or Brickyard 400.

“Cool. Great, however I haven’t got these bucket listing gadgets. I simply wish to win championships. That’s like a bucket listing merchandise. Because it is the largest factor you are able to do.”

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Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent many years protecting motorsports, together with the previous 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene journal and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter at @bobpockrass, and join the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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