Joey Logano has won 11 Sprint Cup races the past two years. He went to Disney World days before winning the Daytona 500 in February. Fellow drivers rib him about squinting too much because he always seems to be in a good mood.
For whatever reason, however, Logano’s personality and winning ways haven’t always resonated with fans. That much became evident Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, when the crowd roared with glee when Matt Kenseth intentionally wrecked Logano, who was leading the race with 47 laps to go.
“Was I surprised to see the fans’ reactions? Yes, I was. I was disgusted by it,” Logano said Friday. “That is not what any racer would expect out of it.”
But Logano has moved on and is focused on re-establishing himself as a championship contender. The wreck severely crippled his title chances, leaving him in last place among the remaining eight drivers vying for the championship, but he is more motivated than ever to win his first championship.
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To be honest, I am not convinced [the wreck] is a bad thing. Our team is more fired up than ever. I am more focused than ever. I am pumped up about being here at the track today. What happened last week is what happened last week.
Logano and his No. 22 Ford team are at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend on a mission. Because of the wreck, Logano essentially has to win his way into the four-driver championship round either Sunday at the AAA Texas 500 or next week at Phoenix.
Sure, Logano would have loved to be in a different situation and could have been if not for Kenseth’s actions. Logano had been the hottest driver in the sport going into Martinsville, carrying three consecutive wins and looking to make it four in a row from the pole position.
Logano had the dominant car most of the race, leading a race-high 207 laps and sitting in the lead at the time of the wreck that left him with a 37th-place finish. It’s in the past at this point, though, and Logano is focused on picking up his second career win at Texas.
“To be honest, I am not convinced [the wreck] is a bad thing,” said Logano, who won the spring race Texas last year. “Our team is more fired up than ever. I am more focused than ever. I am pumped up about being here at the track today. What happened last week is what happened last week.
“Is it the way we wanted it to go? No, of course not. Did we get the finish we felt we deserved that day? No, but this team has plenty of confidence coming off three in a row and in position for four. There is plenty of confidence and more drive than there has ever been. I am not convinced this whole thing is a bad thing.”
Instead of listening to the critics and fans that may not like me, I am going to look at the silver lining and know that I have more fans than I ever had before and I appreciate every one of them.
That might be true and Logano seems unfazed by the accident. He has no regrets with how he raced Kenseth at Kansas, when he tapped Kenseth’s bumper and spun him out of the lead and ultimately out of the Chase. Logano described the incident as “hard racing.”
And Logano doesn’t think twice about how he handled his “hard racing” incident afterward. He didn’t reach out to Kenseth, and came off arrogant to some in his postrace interviews.
That, more than anything, might be why some fans simply don’t embrace the 25-year-old driver.
As longtime NASCAR fan Brooke Humphries from Dallas said, “Logano is a real brat in postrace interviews. The younger drivers today like Logano don’t feel they need to talk to others after the race, and think it’s cool, blah, blah, blah. … When Kenseth slammed him into the wall, I screamed so loud and jumped up and down like a 7-year-old who just got his bike for the first time. I couldn’t be happier. I find the 22 [Logano] to be pompous, arrogant and rude, and he got what he had coming.”
NASCAR disagreed with those fans’ opinions, and handed Kenseth an unprecedented two-race suspension this week.
Logano had no real take on the suspension, nor his hater fans. Instead, he is focused on winning his first championship and pleasing his true fans.
As a seemingly overly positive person, Logano consistently looks for the silver lining in adverse moments such as the fans’ cheering Sunday’s wreck.
“When I was walking out of Martinsville, there were more fans rooting for me now than ever before,” Logano said. “That is pretty cool. Instead of listening to the critics and fans that may not like me, I am going to look at the silver lining and know that I have more fans than I ever had before and I appreciate every one of them.
“They are very good people. I feel like they are not the ones throwing things on the racetrack. I think they are stand-up people, and I appreciate having them wearing my T-shirt. That is something I want to have my name involved with, with people like that, and I appreciate having a lot of support on my side.”
AAA Texas 500
1 p.m. Sunday, KXAS/5