The wait is over for NASCAR fans in the state of Michigan. The Sprint Cup series returns to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan this Father’s Day weekend for the Quicken Loans 400.
The last time the Sprint Cup series was on the track at M.I.S, youngster Joey Logano led 51 laps before driving his No.22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford to victory in the Pure Michigan 400. The win was extra special for everyone involved with the 22 team as team owner, Roger Penske and Team Penske’s manufacturer, Ford Motor Company are based out of Detroit.
Roger Penske also owned MIS in the early 1970’s.
Logano entered the Sprint Cup scene as a driver for Joe Gibbs Racing at 18. He failed to live up to the hype, winning just two races in four years and losing his seat to Matt Kenseth after the 2012 season.
Ultimately, it ended up being the best thing that happened to Logano, who has flourished since car owner Roger Penske signed him to a multi-year contract.
Now, Logano aims to continue the momentum Team Penske’s IndyCar operation had in Michigan last month.
At the Detroit Grand Prix’s IndyCar duels on Belle Isle, Penske drivers, Will Power and Helio Castroneves swept the weekend in the Motor City.
“This is obviously the place I want to be,” Logano said. “Roger is an amazing person and he wants to be successful, wants to win and has a passion for our sport. That’s the type of guy you want to be with. He’ll do whatever it takes to win a race and I’m the same way.”
Last week, Lagono paid a visit to Detroit Lions team activities during a promotion for Sunday’s race.
As soon as practice concluded, the NFL stars made it a point to introduce themselves to the NASCAR star. Players such as Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush made light conversation, but starting quarterback Matthew Stafford took it a step further. After a handshake and a few words, Stafford started up a game of catch with Logano. Although it was easy to tell who was the professional quarterback of the group, Logano kept his spirals tight and his throws on target.
While a professional football career is unlikely, Logano is making the most of his opportunity with Penske Racing and is looking forward to running at MIS. If Sundays race happens to play out anything like last year, it’s for a good reason.
“Michigan was a big turning point. That win was big to get us in the Chase and then we consistently finished in the top five leading into Richmond, gaining a lot of points we lost early in the season.”
“I don’t know about football, but I’d assume if you put a new quarterback in with a new coach, then there’s going to be a learning curve. They have to kind of figure each other out and learn that chemistry and what works and that’s how it was with us in our first year.
“It took us a half-year, until you come back to that same racetrack with your notebook, so now you have something to go off of, where you missed so you can build from there. What you see this year is a product of that because now we’re at those tracks a third time together.”
Both Logano and teammate Brad Keselowski, who is a native of Rochester Hills, Michigan have been hot in the new qualifying format this year. Together Logano and Keselowski have racked up 3 poles and have an average starting position of 7.7.
Logano is one of four drivers that have two victories already this year and the driver said he works well with Keselowski, who also has a win this season and finished second the last two weeks at Dover and Pocono.
I think Joey Logano has an excellent shot to get his third win of the year this week and I’d even go as far as to call him the favorite to capture the checkers. Logano ran very well at Michigan’s sister track, Auto Club Speedway in the spring and has had strong showings at all intermediate tracks the series had paid a visit to thus far. Couple that with Penske’s dominate qualifying program, Lagono’s strong win last year, and Roger Penske’s deep-seated love for Detroit and you have a compelling case to go up against if you feel otherwise.