Logano looks to lasso competition at Texas -- again

Staff Report - NASCAR Wire Service Thursday, Apr 09 1639
Last April, Joey Logano made his "Lone Star Statement."

A message to the NASCAR world that he was ready to fulfill his predicted potential and compete with the sport's elite drivers.

The kid from Connecticut took four tires during the final caution period and outdueled four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon on a green-white-checkered finish to win the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway -- his first victory of 2014.

Logano did have a solid 2013 campaign with a win and 19 top-10 finishes, but his Texas triumph served as a launching pad to a 2014 season where he joined NASCAR's elite class of drivers. The No. 22 Ford pilot nearly doubled his career win total of three with five victories and made the Championship 4 Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He has carried the momentum into this season, winning the Daytona 500 and currently ranks second behind defending NSCS champion Kevin Harvick in the points standings.

In Saturday's Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX), Logano will attempt to achieve a feat no driver has accomplished before -- win consecutive spring races at "The Great American Speedway."

Logano's task will be tough as parity has been the spring race trend at Texas. Nine different drivers have won the last nine spring races at the 1.5-mile quad-oval.

But Logano has contended in almost every race there since joining Team Penske in 2013, claiming three top fives in four races.

"I'm pretty excited to go back to Texas and try to defend our win," Logano said. "That place has quickly turned into one of my favorite tracks on the circuit. It's just a place that suits me and my driving style well and we as a team have excelled at since I came over here to Team Penske."

Logano has not just been good at Texas, but also 1.5-mile tracks in general. He leads the NSCS with a 7.3 average finish at courses of that distance since last season.

The TMS track-record holder (four wins) and defending fall race winner Jimmie Johnson will try to knock off Logano. Johnson also owns the second-highest driver rating (105.7) and third-best average running position (10.9) at Texas, but he has never won there in the spring.

"We have had a lot of good runs at Texas," Johnson said. "The surface is real wide and gives you a lot of options as a driver to find speed and find a good balance. It's just a fun track."

Two drivers other than Logano and Johnson who would not be surprising to see in Victory Lane on Saturday are Brad Keselowski and Harvick. Neither has won at Texas, but remember, parity reigns supreme there. Since 2014, Keselowski, Harvick and Johnson lead the NSCS with three wins each in the 13 races at 1.5-mile tracks.