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Hey (Talladega) fans, you gave Joey Logano ‘the coolest thing ever’

Joey Logano had a career season in 2015 with six wins and 22 top-five finishes, but his championship run was cut short after tangling with Matt Kenseth during the Chase. Could he be looking at a championship in 2016?

It wasn’t winning last year’s Daytona 500, although he admits that was great. It wasn’t sweeping all three races in the second round of last year’s Chase, although that was historic.

Instead, Joey Logano says a moment at the end of the fall Talladega race was “the coolest thing ever.’’

Logano’s victory - which featured a controversial attempt at a green-white-checkered finish - eliminated Dale Earnhardt Jr. from championship contention.

Fans were furious. They were upset with NASCAR for not penalizing Harvick for hitting Trevor Bayne and creating a repeat final restart. Some were upset that Earnhardt’s title bid ended that day. Others were angry with Logano, whose contact with Matt Kenseth a week earlier at Kansas cost Kenseth a chance for the win.

Fueled by such anger, some fans reacted, throwing beer cans on to the track after the race.

The crowd’s reaction reminded Logano of the 2004 spring Talladega race when Jeff Gordon was declared to be ahead of Earnhardt before a late caution. The race finished behind the pace car and Gordon won. Fans littered the track with beer cans.

So when fans did the same thing to Logano, he thought back to Gordon’s experience.

“I thought, ‘Holy Cow, this is like the coolest complement of all time,’ ” Logano said Wednesday. “I took that moment in and I said this is a moment that I’ll always remember. Weird to look at that as a compliment, I know, but I did.

“I thought Jeff Gordon is one of the best that has ever been in our sport and has done so much for our sport, not just on the racetrack but off the racetrack and the same thing happened to him. I look at that, and I was like, ‘Wow this is one thing I have in common with Jeff Gordon. Holy cow, I’ve got one thing in common.’ I think that is special.’’

Logano’s title hopes would end a week later at Martinsville when Kenseth exacted revenge. NASCAR suspended Kenseth for two races but Logano failed to advance to the championship round at Miami. Logano finished sixth in points but had a series-high six victories and 22 top-five finishes.

“Those are championship stats, but we don’t have the trophy,’’ Logano said. “We know how to do it. We’re close. It’s not going to be a fluke when it happens. We know what we’re supposed to do. We’ve just got to go out and do it.’’

Logano said he’s not worried about any carryover with Kenseth impacting his title quest this year.

“We had a discussion at Homestead with NASCAR (last November) and I feel like I got everything off my chest that I needed to say and hopefully Matt did as well,’’ Logano said. “We’ll move forward from there.’’

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