March 28, 2023
Joey Logano wins in Phoenix and wins second NASCAR championship |  TSN

Joey Logano wins in Phoenix and wins second NASCAR championship | TSN

AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Penske Perfect.

From NASCAR’s first race with the new next-gen car, the Daytona 500, the IndyCar Championship and now the NASCAR Cup title, it’s been as close to a perfect season as Roger Penske can get.

Joey Logano won his second NASCAR championship Sunday with a win in the winner-take-all finals at Phoenix Raceway — a win that gave Penske the Cup title and IndyCar title in 31 attempts for the first time in the same season .

“It’s about time,” Penske said. “Joey has done a great job and for having two championships in the same year we are here. That’s the goal we have every year. I think we were close but this year we made it.”

It was the fourth win of the season for Logano, who opened the year with a win in January in a show race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in the debut of the next-gen car. Less than a month later, rookie teammate Austin Cindric won the Daytona 500 on Penske’s 85th birthday.

Will Power added the IndyCar championship to Team Penske’s trophy cabinet in September, and Logano’s dominant run on Sunday ended the banner year for the organization.

“Going into this thing, I knew we were going to win the championship. I told the guys we were Daytona favorites and we really believed it and that’s the difference,” said Logano. “I had a good team with a lot of confidence and we had every reason in the world to be confident. I’ve never been this ready for a championship race and yes we did it man. I can not believe it.”

Logano was met after the win by his wife and 4-year-old son Hudson, the eldest of his three children and the only one to make the trip to Phoenix. Logano took Hudson’s hand and ran up the bench to take the checkered flag.

His son jumped back the track, waving the flag and holding his champion father’s hand. Logano had promised Hudson that he would win the championship.

“We’ve had so many conversations before bed over the past few weeks. First was ‘Daddy’s going to get a pole and he’s going to meet me out here and we’re going to win the race’ and I couldn’t lie to my son,” Logano said.

Logano then drove Hudson to the championship stage in the #22 Ford.

“I’ve always wanted to do that with Hudson. He’s such a small car guy,” said Logano.

At 32, Logano was the oldest driver in the championship and the only one married with children. The Next Gen has taken on the competition this season and the Cup Series has celebrated 19 different winners, including five rookies and two drivers competing in the championship race for the first time.

Even with parity, Logano never doubted that this would be his season.

“Getting the bookends, the first race and the last race, means a lot,” said Logano. “It’s just a very special year for us with our third baby, and 22 in ’22, I told you!”

It’s the third Cup championship for Penske, who won with Brad Keselowski in 2012, and Logano’s first title in 2018. Logano is the only active driver with multiple Cup titles alongside Kyle Busch.

Logano won pole and was never really challenged on Sunday as his Ford led 186 of the 312 laps and he was the highest contender for the title for more than one lap. He is the first Ford driver to win two cup titles since David Pearson in 1968 and 1969.

It’s the second Cup championship for crew chief Paul Wolfe, who won with Keselowski in 2012 and admitted to texting rival Ford crew chief Rodney Childers during the race with strategic advice.

“I texted him throughout the race, ‘What do you guys think? What would you do?’” Wolfe said. “I have thoughts, but all the other crew chiefs might think otherwise. It’s good to have a different perspective. There are people in the workshop who can be trusted and there are people who cannot be trusted. I think Rodney and I have a great relationship and I appreciate that.”

Ross Chastain finished third on his debut in the championship race and Christopher Bell finished tenth on his debut. Bell was driving hours after Joe Gibbs Racing learned that vice chairman Coy Gibbs, son of the Hall of Fame team owner, died in his sleep aged 49.

“You wake up this morning and you’re racing for a championship, you’re happy, you’re excited, and then your world falls apart,” Bell told Perspective that there’s a lot more to it than racing.

Chase Elliott was shot by Chastain early in the closing stages, his Chevrolet hit the wall and he was immediately out of contention. It broke Hendrick Motorsports’ streak of two consecutive Cup titles.

“Just disappointed, of course, ended our day and ended our chance of a win or a championship. Just disappointing,” Elliott said.

NASCAR’s favorite driver won a career-high five races and the regular-season championship that year, but Elliott lost his shot at a second championship when he crossed the front of Chastain and Chastain refused to take off. Contact sent Elliott into the wall, he dropped to 30th and fell down a lap during repairs to finish 28th.

“I feel like it was just a tough race and I had position,” Chastain said. “I was coming to the left of (Elliott) and saw an erratic movement he was making to turn left to cover it, but I was already there. It’s not like I want to race with them or these guys.

Logano, who started his career at JGR and spent five seasons there before being fired after the 2012 season, greeted the Gibbs family after the win.

“I don’t know what to think, but of course my condolences go out to the Gibbs family,” Logano said. “But just an incredible day for us and kind of mixed feelings at the moment.”


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