Joey Logano was signed to Team Penske on what started as a handshake deal
Joey Logano is the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion driver. He claimed the race win and the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
With the win, Logano brought Team Penske their first title since 2012. However, it’s also the first championship for a Ford since 2004.
Logano’s first several years in NASCAR actually came with Joe Gibbs Racing. In 2008, he made three starts with a best best of 32nd. Two other starts were scheduled, but rain washed out qualifying.
Logano ran that year in the #02. The car was an R&D machine that also worked as a driver development machine. It was the reverse of the #20 driven by Tony Stewart. The paint scheme and the number was both reversed.
In 2009, Tony Stewart moved on to form his own race team, Stewart-Haas Racing. Logano would move up to take over the #20 machine. Logano spent his first four years with Joe Gibbs.
In his first full-time season in 2009, he took it to victory lane topping Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace. Ironically, Tony Stewart started on the pole that day. He would venture to victory lane after the race to congratulate his former team on the win.
Roger Penske on signing Joey Logano
Following the 2012 season, Joe Gibbs couldn’t find a sponsor for Logano. Roger Penske had a place for him…
“He’s a tough guy. Brad and I sat down when we had an opening. Joe Gibbs didn’t have a full ride for him in the Cup side,” Roger Penske explained after winning the 2018 NACSRA championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I talked to Joe [Gibbs]. He said, ‘Will you give me a couple weeks?’ So, I did.”
“Then, he didn’t really have anything for him. So, I thought that he’d be the guy to come to the team. When it’s time to go, he’s the guy.”
“I saw him as a winner. It was the Busch Series, or I don’t remember what it was. But, he was driving for Joe Gibbs and beat Kyle sometimes.”
“I sat down with Joey and his dad. No agents, it was just us sitting down, shaking hands on what we were gonna do. His dad was behind him. He and I have become great friends.”
“Look, these people become part of your family. Helio Castroneves, Rick Mears, Rusty Wallace, Brad Keselowski and Blaney coming up. This is a close knit team and I think that’s why we’re on the top.”
Joey Logano’s crew chief Todd Gordon is also a former driver. He used to race a Limited Modified at Oswego Speedway. How about the crew chief? How did he land at Team Penske?
“We we packed up and moved South, I was just hoping to work in racing. That was back in 1998,” Gordon explained.
“It’s a testament to opportunity. This guy to my right [Roger Penske], he believed in me. I got a shot at the Xfinity program and showed a little bit of promise and got this opportunity.”
“You just gotta keep your head down and good things can happen.”