Joey Logano anxious to put "horror film" of 2017 season behind him

After the “horror film” that was his 2017 NASCAR season, Joey Logano wants to ensure it will never happen again.

Joey Logano anxious to put "horror film" of 2017 season behind him
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford, Team Penske, Ford Fusion
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford, Team Penske, Ford Fusion
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford Todd Gordon
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford and Corey LaJoie, BK Racing Toyota
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford, Team Penske, Ford Fusion
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford

Logano, who finished second in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings in 2016, failed to qualify for the 2017 playoffs and ended the season 17th in points – his worst finish since 2012.

Logano and his No. 22 Team Penske team did win a race last year – at Richmond, Va., in the spring – but his car failed post-race inspection and he wasn’t able to use the win to gain entry in the playoffs. The season went downhill from there.

“We never want to have that feeling again. That sucks,” Logano, 27, said during this week’s Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. “Not being in the playoffs is no fun.

“I think after going through that and living that horror film, you don’t want to do that again. There is plenty of motivation to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

The worst part, Logano said, is there was no warning. In his three previous seasons, he had not won less than three races and was primed for another championship run with crew chief Todd Gordon.

He even began the 2017 season strong, with eight finishes of sixth or higher in the first nine races. Then the bottom fell out.

“After you almost win the championship and win a bunch of races the last four years before that, you think making the playoffs is kind of a given. That is kind of the way I thought,” he said. “Sixteen drivers (in the playoffs), I thought that was a given.

“I would say it blindsided every one of us. We didn’t think the penalty at Richmond was a big deal. We thought we would go win more races. No big deal. Then it was one thing after another and before we knew it our back was against the wall.

“We almost won the second Richmond (and made the playoffs). We came in second. Figures.”

While Logano struggled, his teammate Brad Keselowski advanced to the Championship 4 and ended the year with three wins and finished fourth in the standings, his best performance since he won the championship in 2012.

2017 struggles a learning experience

While the season was definitely a disappointment, Logano believes the trials have left him and his team with a valuable learning experience.

“We started to be open-minded at the end of the season. We probably waited a little too long,” he said. “When you find something that works for you, you are able to keep evolving off of that foundation that you built.

“Then the rules change and things change and then all of a sudden that doesn’t work anymore, it is really hard to just knock over what you built and start all over. It is very challenging to get yourself to think that openly.”

But change they did.

The team changed just about everything it did and by the end of last season, Logano felt the team’s performance was showing the results of their collective hard work.

It also left him with optimism as he begins a new year.

“You never know until the season starts, but I have enough confidence and I am believing the stories my team is telling me that we are going to be really good this year. I honestly do believe that,” he said.

“I think we will go out there and redeem ourselves. We know we are a championship team. Nothing has changed from two years ago when we almost won the championship. It is the same group. Nothing has changed. We know we can still do that.”

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