Opportunistic — there isn’t a better single word to sum up the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion.
Gone are the days of Joey Logano’s dominance in the years 2014 and 2015 where he won a combined 11 races and had an impressive 9.2 average finish. Recently, Logano’s victory have all come when he’s needed them.
In 2016, Logano earned his way into the postseason after a solid run in the regular season. While he didn’t have the most impressive runs throughout the 10 races, Logano advanced to the Round of 12 on points and then clinched his way into the Round of 8 and Championship 4 after winning the final races of the final two rounds at Talladega Superspeedway and Phoenix Raceway.
Logano came up short in that season’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but the fact that he was able to win when he needed to give him a chance at becoming a champion is a success in itself.
The Team Penske product hit his opportunistic peak in 2018. During the regular season, he only had one win (Talladega) and the “Big Three” of Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch were dominating a majority of the races. Those three looked to be the clear favorites to win the championship. However, Logano punched his ticket to the Championship 4 that season after moving Truex Jr. in the final turn on the final lap at Martinsville Speedway to win the race.
Two races later at the Homestead finale, Logano out-dueled Truex after the final restart to win his first career championship.
Fast forward to 2020 and Logano is trending on that same path he took in 2018.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the season for two months, Logano punched his ticket to the playoffs early after winning races at Las Vegas and Phoenix. After the season resumed, Logano struggled to find consistency as he finished outside the top 10, 10 times in the remaining regular-season races.
The story remained the same in the early rounds of the playoffs as he finished outside the top 10 for three races in a row at Bristol, Las Vegas and Talladega. He was able to reach the Round of 8 after a runner-up finish at the Charlotte Roval, but the ultimate opportunist struck pay dirt the following Sunday at Kansas Speedway. After winning the race off of pit road prior to the final restart, Logano took sole possession of the lead and used the clean-air advantage to hold off the much-faster Harvick and win at Kansas to punch his ticket to the Championship 4.
Following that race, Logano scored a 10th-place finish at Texas and finished third at Martinsville.
Heading into Phoenix, there’s no reason to doubt Logano. He won the previous race in March and he finished inside the top 10 in both 2019 races.
If the trends fall the right way, then Joey Logano will become a two-time Cup Series champion on Sunday.