Joey Logano is not one of those guys who rolled into Talladega Superspeedway with fear and trembling.
So many new drivers at Talladega’s longest track have a mountain of problems in adjusting to racing here. Although driving a car fast around such a wide track is relatively easy, the other parts of the bigger NASCAR whole here are troublesome for newcomers – The Big Wreck, the difficulty in finding veteran drivers willing to draft, the minor ins and outs of the mind games that develop over the final few laps.
Logano, however, has a great report card from his rookie season last year at Talladega – a ninth-place finish in the spring race and a third in the fall. Many, many drivers would be satisfied with an average of sixth place at one of stock car racing’s most unpredictable tracks.
Logano said Friday that he figured out in the early going at Talladega that he should fold into the crowd and try to advance instead of charging toward the front and hoping others would follow him.
“Every time I try to step up here I usually go backward for some reason,” he said. “I decided I need to be the pusher and keep pushing. You see a lot of cars pulling those drafts and the two-car drafts. I decided to push and try to get in position that way.
“It’s a matter of figuring out how to do that and getting the right cars and the right people together to make that happen and being in a position to win.”
It’s also about car control, Logano said.
“When you get hit in the back bumper with the bump-drafting, you have to think about keeping your car secured and not moving around a lot,” he said.
Logano said he discovered quickly the differences between Talladega and its sister restrictor-plate track, Daytona International Speedway.
“Talladega is completely different from Daytona – not even close,” he said. “Here the cars are glued to the race track. A lot of it is just the chess match out there and missing the wreck at the end.”
Logano approaches Talladega in 12th in points, carrying four top 10s in eight races. It’s a quantum leap from his rookie season.
“I’m pretty pumped up about the way we’re going,” Logano said. “Last week [at Texas Motor Speedway, with a late-race wreck] was tough. I had a top-15 run going and could have come out with a top six or so.”
Being involved in the accident dropped him to a 28th-place finish, his second-worst result of the year.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEEDtv.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.
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