Joey Logano Makes Statement, Earns Career-Saving Victory at Pocono 400
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Just five days after facing questions about the pressures of a contract year, Joey Logano went out and proved just why he's the man for the job at Joe Gibbs Racing.
Saturday, the 22-year-old Middletown, Conn. native earned the Pole for Sunday's Pocono 400 with a track record-setting lap of 179.598 mph, then followed that up with a dominating victory in the 400-mile event.
Logano led a race-high 48 of the 160 laps on Sunday and ran inside the top five virtually all day en route to his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory and his first since his win in the rain-shortened event at New Hampshire in 2009.
Despite leading the most laps and having one of the best cars of the afternoon, Logano nearly came just short.
With 10 laps remaining, Mark Martin, who ironically was the man who scouted out Logano long before he was old enough to drive a Sprint Cup car, passed him on the final restart of the afternoon.
On a day when passing proved to be difficult, Martin's move could have been the pass for the win.
But as fate would have it, Logano would be given one more shot at Martin after Martin's No. 55 car bobbled coming out of Turn 3 with four laps to go. Logano got to Martin's bumper in Turn 1 and delivered the chrome horn.
Logano slipped past Martin on the exit of Turn 1 and never looked back.
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Logano's second career win came at a great time. Facing a contract year in 2012, Logano does not know at this point whether he will be in the No. 20 Toyota for JGR in 2013.
But Logano made it no secret that he knows what he has to do to improve his chances of retaining it.
"My job is to go out there to win races, so as long as I do that, [the contract situation] will come together pretty easily," Logano said in Tuesday's NASCAR teleconference.
"I just have to keep focusing on what's most important, and that's this year right now and all of the stuff will kind of follow when it needs to."
Focus, he did. And the result may have just been a career-saving win.
Logano's win also helps him continue his recent hot streak. The victory marks his third top-10 finish in the last four races in addition to three NASCAR Nationwide Series wins in his last four starts.
In other words, the man touted as Sliced Bread—as in the "best thing since..."—clearly knows how to drive a race car.
Lately, he's been showing it.
Logano's win moved him to 14th in the standings, up two spots from his previous position. It also puts him in a tie with Ryan Newman for the second Chase wild card slot.
Did Joey Logano's win at Pocono save his ride at Gibbs?
The better news for Logano? The circuit heads to Pocono again in just seven weeks, meaning he has a pretty good chance to take sole possession of that slot when the series returns to the Tricky Triangle in August.
In the meantime, it's time for Logano to celebrate, because for one week the pressure is off. No worries about when he may win again or if he'll keep his ride in 2013.
They say you're only as good as your last race. If that is indeed true, Joey Logano is the best driver in NASCAR following his Pocono 400 win.
If he can build on this victory, it may just prove to be a career-saving win.
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