Joey Logano shows resiliency with little Luke France as lucky charm

Photo by NASCAR/Getty Images

By Yvonne Jones, Staff Writer

RICHMOND, Va. – Little Luke France must be Joey Logano’s good luck charm. Or the Penske Racing driver is just flat-out resilient.

After hanging out with the 6-year-old son of NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France at the drivers’ meeting ahead of the Toyota Owners 400, the wheelman for the No. 22 Ford came from the back of the field to win at Richmond International Raceway, his first in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season.

“We’re resilient, that’s for sure, and we’ve shown that over the last four years that you can’t hold us down,” said the 26-year-old Logano. “You might be able to put us back every now and again, but you’re not going to hold that team down.”

“They’re such a strong team.  Attitude is everything, right, when you look at sports.  You’ve got to have that attitude.  You’ve got to have that I will to win attitude.  We will fight back.  The team has got that.  I don’t even have to preach it.”

Crew chief Todd Gordon preached patience over the radio before the green flag dropped. Logano was fifth in time trials, but his yellow Pennzoil machine had to start from the rear after making a post-qualifying transmission change. Coming from the back meant Logano was at a disadvantage since he already had qualifying laps on his tires. And the track being a ¾-miler, the Connecticut native ran the risk of falling behind in the 38-car field.

“Obviously I got the text yesterday from Todd when I was up in the booth talking,”  Logano said. “I thought, oh, man, this is not the place you want to start in the back for a lot of reasons.”

“We got a nice caution five laps into the race, put some sticker tires on it when some guys still had their qualifiers on it, be able to start picking them off slowly,” Logano said. “Took us all day to at least break into the top 5.”

30 April 2017–Joey Logano wins the Toyota Owners 400 at the Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, VA.(HHP/Alan Marler)

And by Lap 384 of the 400-lap event, Logano took his first lead at the Virginia track.

It’s his first victory from the rear and it gave him his 18th career win in his 300th start. But even the younger France, a big Logano fan, thought he’d do “terrible” when asked earlier. The child did admit that he wanted Logano to win though.

“He said I was going to run terrible?” a laughing Logano asked. “I don’t know why he chose me as his favorite. Glad to know he’s got a lot of faith in me, though.”

It was a 1-2 finish for Team Penske with teammate Brad Keselowski finishing right behind. Six Fords ended up in the top 10.

“Sounds like we’re going to have a party,” Logano said. “That’s pretty neat to have a couple one‑two finishes over the weekend.  Also I think four of the top 5 are Fords, is that right?  Hey, that’s not bad.  So a lot of good things that came out of this weekend for Ford and Team Penske, as well.”

Logano though was more caught up with the milestone start.

“For me personally, it was kind of a cool milestone to hit and drive into Victory Lane with that, too.  Did you hear that six people have won on their 300th start?  How about that crazy stat?  That’s pretty cool.”

 

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