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Championship Bust: Examining Joey Logano’s Awful Season

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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In 2022, Joey Logano won the NASCAR Cup Series Championship. It was his second career Championship, which puts him up there amongst some of the best in the history of the sport to have won multiple Championships. However, 2023 has been a much different story, so what happened?

Daytona-Atlanta (1): A Solid Start

Through the first five races, Joey Logano looked like he was set to defend his title from a season ago. He finished second in the Daytona 500 after leading 12 laps, and he went on to lead multiple laps in four of the first five races. He also recorded three top-10s and two top-5s in the first five races with the only major blip being a 36th place finish at Las Vegas.

At Atlanta, he dominated the field all day by winning the pole, his second of the season, and leading 140 laps. He would get the better of his former teammate, Brad Keselowski to win the race. Logano was Playoff-bound already only five races into the season.

He also sat second in points, only seven points off of the top spot held by Alex Bowman. It seemed that Logano was going to have a typical season where he was a key figure in the Championship race. However, things began to change.

COTA-Charlotte: Feast or Famine to an Early Season Slump

After his win at Atlanta Logano fell into a cycle of inconsistency for the next four races. His next four finishes were 28th at COTA, 7th at Richmond, 37th at Bristol after a crash, and second at Martinsville. As a result, he fell to seventh in points, but it did not seem like there was a major reason to panic.

Well, his next five races proved to be difficult. He would finish 30th at Talladega after getting involved in a late crash, and he crashed again the next week at Dover to finish 31st. He would rebound to finish sixth at Kansas, but that was followed up by lackluster finishes of 18th at Darlington with no stage points and 21st at Charlotte.

As a result, Logano was now 14th in the standings, but he was still in the Playoffs with his win early in the season at Atlanta. Not only was his race pace down, but his qualifying pace was down too.

In the first five races of the season, Logano qualified in the top-5 four times with two poles. In the nine races since, he only cracked the top 10 in qualifying twice at Talladega and Kansas. Something was off, and it was concerning considering that teammate Ryan Blaney was only one point back of the points lead. Logano tried to rebound, but it was not an easy rebound.

Gateway-Daytona: Inconsistency Abound

For the rest of the regular season, it seemed like every time Logano had a good run to get some momentum going, he would go right back down to earth the next week. He had two consecutive third-place finishes at Gateway and Sonoma, but that was followed up by finishes of 19th, 8th, 17th, 2nd, and 35th.

He did, however, work his way back up into the top-10 in the regular season points standings by this point. He also seemed to figure out qualifying as well as he had five consecutive qualifying runs in the top-10 between Nashville and Pocono.

He finished out the regular season, however, with more inconsistent finishes. He had two straight finishes outside of the top-10 at Michigan (14th) and Indianapolis (34th) followed up by two top-10 runs at Watkins Glen (10th) and Daytona (5th).

He finished 11th in the regular season standings, which meant no extra bonus points aside from stage wins and his win at Atlanta in March. Off to the Playoffs he went with only a one-point cushion over the cut-line.

Round of 16: Optimistic to Out

Logano started off the Playoffs with a ho-hum 12th-place run at Darlington which gave him only a three-point advantage over the cut-line. He went on to finish a solid fifth at Kansas to expand his gap to 12 points, and it seemed that Logano may sneak out of the first round alive.

Then Bristol happened. A 28th-place qualifying run was bad enough, but Logano was never up front the entire day. He was finally done in by getting involved in a crash at the start of the final stage, and that was it.

Logano became the first defending Champion to miss out on the Round of 12. It was a difficult season for Logano, but, if history serves as our guide, Logano tends to run well in even-numbered years. Maybe 2024 is his year.

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts