NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Joey Logano Relaxed, Ready for Second Chance At Cup Title

During Thursday’s Championship 4 Media Day in Miami, Florida, Joey Logano was all smiles. The 26-year-old has spent the weekend relaxed and ready, entering Homestead-Miami Speedway title-eligible for the second time the format’s three years.

“It’s definitely different,” Logano said. “You know, you think about everything that’s kind of come about the last couple years, and as you’ve learned how to handle these situations and how to fight through them, living it once before usually helps a lot. So I feel a lot more confident coming into this for sure.”

The biggest difference, though, is that Logano got married just over a month after his 2014 championship battle. His life is drastically different, and so are his results.

2015 was a career-best year for Logano in terms of wins (five), top 5s (22), top 10s (28), laps led (1,431), average start (6.9), average finish (9.2) and lead-lap finishes (32). However, a pair of sub 35th-place finishes at Martinsville Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway ruined his title hopes, missing the cutoff for the final round of the Chase.

Logano’s attitude toward Kenseth was blamed by the latter in causing the Martinsville accident that started that downward spiral. This year, it’s brought about a happier Logano, more in touch with the competitors around him and earning more respect while remaining loose in the midst of his success.

“I honestly enjoy life, and I should,” he said. “I’m living my dream.  Why wouldn’t I enjoy what I’m doing?”

That attitude has served him well entering the weekend; he’s qualified 13th, third best of the four title contenders, and has consistently been a small step behind Jimmie Johnson and the Joe Gibbs Racing duo in practice. Yet after qualifying, he was once again mixing serious with silly.

“As I told Jimmie, man, we all suck,” Logano said after qualifying. “I don’t know what happened. It’s interesting that everyone is all starting so close to each other and not towards the front.  It’s not what you’d expect coming here.”

So his mental zen can’t make more speed. Will it help him when the pressure ramps up tomorrow?

“I’m [still] intense as a competitor, and I wear my emotions on my sleeve,” Logano said. “But most of the time I’m happy because there’s something bigger in my life that I realize what I’m doing this all for, and I think that just kind of makes me happy.”

Logano leads the sport with seven Chase wins since 2014, the most since the elimination-style Chase began. His consistency throughout the playoffs has carried him this far. Wait to see if the mental side can carry him all the way.

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