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Joey Logano
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Chasing the Cup

3. Joey Logano

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: February 1, 2020, 5:13 pm ET

The past two seasons have ended in huge surprises for Joey Logano. In 2018, he was pleasantly shocked that he won the NASCAR Cup Championship. Last year, he was astounded that he failed to be part of the Championship 4.

As often happens in any sport, it came down to one key performance. He and Denny Hamlin were practically even heading into the penultimate race of the year. The comparative closeness of their seasons can be seen in a season-ending Driver Rating that had Logano narrowly edging Hamlin by 0.4 points. Hamlin had the advantage heading into that race since he is so incredibly strong on flat tracks, but Logano certainly had a chance; he won a clutch race there in fall 2016.

Logano finished ninth in the Bluegreen Vacations 500k after the team made a change to his setup that cost significant track position in a critical portion of the race. Hamlin won. Logano didn’t have an opportunity to defend his Cup.

Make no mistake, that will motivate him throughout 2020. He will think of it at some point during every weekend on the coming schedule – and he will undoubtedly be fixated on the mistakes that have plagued him at Phoenix.

But first, he has to navigate the first 26 races and be one of the top 44% of the drivers to make the playoffs. That will not be a problem. One third of the franchise teams will make it to the Round of 12; 22.2% of them will be part of the Round of 8. For a driver like Logano and an organization like Team Penske, it should not be a problem to remain in contention through Round 3.

Only 11.1% of the drivers make it to the Championship 4.

Joe Gibbs Racing was difficult to beat in 2019 and they account for 11% of the fulltime teams; 14% if they pour sufficient funds into Christopher Bell’s satellite team.

That is a problem for late fall, however; at the moment, fantasy owners are concerned with how Logano will run during the first half of the season.

Logano scored 13 of his 21 top-10s in the first 18 races of 2019. Both of his wins came in the first half of the season. He was erratic, however, and failed to record more than four consecutive top-10s at any point of the first 18 events. Worse still, it always caught players by surprise when he lost momentum. Logano entered Martinsville in Week 6 with a first- and second-place finish in three races preceding the STP 500. He won the pole on the short track, but faded to 19th.

Logano had three straight top-fives from Bristol through Talladega, finished seventh at Dover, and then slipped to 15th at Kansas.

He had a win and a runner-up in three races entering Sonoma – and then finished 23rd.

So, while Logano was a great value more often than not, his lack of consistency cost players significant points in five of the first 18 races with results outside the top 15.

The second half of the season was worse. Beginning with Pocono 2, he went on a five-race skid with results outside the top 12. If Team Penske was experimenting on risky setups, they chose a bad time to do so because it cost momentum heading into the final 10 races.

Logano had points on his side, however, and that helped him move from round to round. He amassed the most segment wins and points during the season. With a total of 358, he added nearly 10 markers per race on average. He had 11 segment wins (second to Kyle Busch’s 12 if one counts Segment 2 at Homestead) and was among the top 10 in 53 of 71.

Logano is a threat on every track.

During his career, he has finished third or better everywhere NASCAR runs except the Charlotte Roval—and that course has hosted only two events. He boasts wins on 15 of the 24 courses and was second or better on 21. He just needs a little something extra this season, and that could come in the form of a desire to avenge his inability to defend his 2018 Cup.

Three Best Tracks
Las Vegas (8.5 in 13 attempts)
Charlotte Roval (10.0 in 2)
Indy (10.9 in 11)

Three Worst Tracks
Kansas (17.43 in 21)
Daytona (17.41 in 22)
Atlanta (17.2 in 13)

2019 Stats
Victories: (2) Las Vegas 1 and Michigan 1
Top-fives: 12 (.333)
Top-10s: 21 (.583)
Top-15s: 26 (.722)

2019 Finishes at or above rank = 8 (22.2%)

Recent articles featuring Joey Logano:
2019 Driver Rating
Running till the End
Fast and Smooth: 2-mile tracks
Team Penske Shakes up Crew Chief Lineup
2019 Segment Points

2019 Profile

2020 Driver Profiles:
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Chase Elliott
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Brad Keselowski
8. Ryan Blaney
9. Kyle Larson
10. Erik Jones
11. Clint Bowyer
12. Alex Bowman
13. William Byron
14. Aric Almirola
15. Kurt Busch
16. Christopher Bell
17. Ryan Newman
18. Matt DiBenedetto
19. Jimmie Johnson
20. Tyler Reddick
21. Chris Buescher
22. Cole Custer
23. Austin Dillon
24. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
25. Ryan Preece
26. Ty Dillon
27. Bubba Wallace
28. Michael McDowell
29. Ross Chastain
30. Daniel Suarez

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.