AVONDALE, Ariz. — Penske Perfect.
From the first NASCAR race with the new Next Gen car, the Daytona 500, the IndyCar championship and now the NASCAR Cup title, Roger Penske has been about as close to a perfect season as it gets.
Joey Logano claimed his second NASCAR championship on Sunday with a victory in the winner’s finale at Phoenix Raceway – a victory that gave Penske the Cup title and the IndyCar title in the same season for the first time in 31 attempts.
“It was about time,” Penske said. “Joey did a great job, and for us to have two championships in the same year, that’s what we’re here for. That’s the goal we have every year. I think we’ve been close, but we got it this year.”
It was the fourth victory of the season for Logano, who opened the year with a win in January in an exhibition race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in the Next Gen car’s debut. Less than a month later, his rookie teammate Austin Cindric won the Daytona 500 on Penske’s 85th birthday.
Will Power added the IndyCar championship to the Team Penske Trophy in September and Logano’s dominating race on Sunday capped the record year for the organization.
“I knew we were going to win the championship. I told the guys we were Daytona favorites, and we really believed it, and that’s the difference,” Logano said. “I had a good team with a lot of confidence, and we had every reason in the world to be confident. I’ve never been more ready for a championship race, and yes, we did, man. I can’t believe it.”
Logano was met after the win by his wife and 4-year-old son Hudson, the eldest of his three children and the only one to make the trip to Phoenix. Logano took Hudson by the hand and ran to the bank to retrieve the checkered flag.
His son raced back down the track, waving the flag and holding hands with his champion father. Logano had promised Hudson that he would win the championship.
“We’ve had so many conversations over the last two weeks before bedtime. First of all, ‘Dad is going to get a pole, and he’s going to meet me here and we’re going to win the race,’ and I could’ I won’t lie to my son,” Logano said.
Logano then drove Hudson inside the #22 Ford to the championship stage.
“I always wanted to do that with Hudson. He’s such a little car guy,” Logano said.
Logano at 32 was the oldest driver in Championship 4, as well as the only one married with children. The Next Gen has matched the competition this season, and the Cup Series has celebrated 19 different winners, including five rookies and two drivers making their first appearance in the championship chase.
Even with parity, Logano never doubted this would be his season.
“Getting the bookends, the first and the last race, means a lot,” Logano said. “It’s just been a really special year for us with our third baby, and 22 in 22, I told you!”
This is the third Cup championship for Penske, which won with Brad Keselowski in 2012 and Logano’s first title in 2018. Logano joined Kyle Busch as the only active drivers with multiple Cup titles.
Logano took pole and was never really challenged on Sunday as his Ford led 186 of 312 laps, and he was not the greatest title contender running for a single lap. He is the first Ford driver to win two Cup titles since David Pearson in 1968 and 1969.
This is the second Cup championship for crew chief Paul Wolfe, who won with Keselowski in 2012 and admitted to texting rival Ford crew chief Rodney Childers for strategic advice during the race.
“I texted him throughout the race, ‘What are you guys thinking? What would you do?'” Wolfe said. “I have thoughts, but all the other crew chiefs might think something different. It’s good to have another perspective. There are guys in the garage that you can trust and there has guys you can’t. I think Rodney and I have a great relationship, and I appreciate that.”
Ross Chastain finished third on his league debut and Christopher Bell finished 10th on his debut. Bell raced hours after Joe Gibbs Racing learned that Vice Chairman Coy Gibbs, son of the Hall of Fame team owner, died in his sleep at age 49.
“You wake up this morning and you’re racing for a championship, you’re happy, you’re elated, and then your world falls apart,” Bell said. “Any time you get news like this, it definitely puts into perspective that there is a lot more to do outside of racing.”
Chase Elliott was trailed by Chastain at the start of the final stage, his Chevrolet hit the wall and he was immediately knocked out. This ended Hendrick Motorsports’ two consecutive Cup title streak.
“Just disappointed, obviously, ended our day and ended our chance of winning or winning a championship. Just disappointing,” Elliott said.
NASCAR’s most popular driver won a career-high five races this year and the regular-season championship, but Elliott lost his chance at a second championship when he ran through Chastain’s front and Chastain refused to get up. The contact sent Elliott spinning into the wall, he fell to 30th and spun during repairs and finished 28th.
“I feel like it was just a tough race and I had a position,” Chastain said. “I arrived on the left of [Elliott] and I saw an erratic movement he made to turn left to cover him, but I was already there. That’s not how I want to race them or those guys.”
Logano, who started his career with JGR and spent five seasons there before being fired after the 2012 season, hailed the Gibbs family after the victory.
“I don’t know what to think, but obviously my condolences go out to the Gibbs family,” Logano said. “But just an amazing day for us, and kind of mixed emotions right now.”
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