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Logano, the reigning Cup champion, has experienced highs and lows in superspeedway racing, from winning the Daytona 500 in 2015 to triggering a multi-car wreck in another with a badly timed block.
In fact, he hasn’t finished on the lead lap of the 500 since 2019, when he led 11 laps ended up fourth.
On Thursday night at Daytona International Speedway, Logano added a victory in his 150-mile qualifying race to his Daytona resume and will start third in Sunday’s 500 in his No. 22 Penske Racing Ford. It’s his third career win in the Duels (he also won in 2019 and 2020).
“It’s all about how much effort you’re willing to put into something. I don’t think anybody at Penske looks at speedway racing as a luck thing. Sometimes you just have bad placement,” he said.
“But the majority of it is if you can control some things or you can keep yourself towards the front. If you get wrecked in the front, you get wrecked in the front. Like what are you going to do?
“But I think you can still put yourself up there with doing things correctly.”
Logano said the process of learning the ins and outs of superspeedway racing never ends and he has often relied on a “group effort” – combining lessons learned from each of his Penske teammates prior to each race.
“Now everybody has like their own style. Like (Ryan) Blaney’s style out there is significantly different than mine and what I’m willing to do compared to what he’s willing to do. We drive our cars two completely different ways in the draft,” he said.
“But Blaney has done a great job at finishing up front and winning these things, as well. There’s more than one way to do this, and Blaney has kind of found his way that works for him.
“The game is not as simple as it used to be. It evolves. It evolves so quickly. This draft is never the same two races in a row, no matter if the rules are different or the same.”
The choose rule changes the game
An added wrinkle into the equation this year got its first test – albeit a brief one – on Thursday night as NASCAR is now utilizing the choose rule on restarts for superspeedways and road courses.
Those tracks were previously exempt from the rule which was first adapted beginning in 2020.
Logano believes that could alter some team’s choices in Sunday’s race, which in recent seasons has featured strategy dictated more by the various manufacturers working together.
“I would say the difference with the speedway choose is teammates. Like do you line up with your teammate? Do you take the shortest lane? Which lane do you think typically goes better?” he said.
“It’s closer to 50/50 than it is at other tracks. It’s not as black and white as it is at other tracks where you can go back and look at restarts and look at history and say, ‘Well, this lane is definitely better.’
“Now it’s kind of like, ‘What’s the alliances around you and what are you willing to do to get with each other? Are you willing to give up a row to be with your teammate and is that worth doing that?’ Those are the questions you have to ask now.”
Many of the decisions needed to be made by a driver are split-second, and particularly in superspeedway races that can easily mean a choice between victory and a wreck.
“You’ve got to put all the stuff into the equation and say, okay, what is right here? You don’t have a lot of time to think about it because a lot of those decisions are going to be a reaction off of what happened right in front of you,” Logano said.
“Your spotter has got to be on point of understanding as a team what you want and then reacting quickly because as a driver you can’t see the choose good enough on what everybody is doing there.
“It makes it tricky for sure, really hard.”