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Strong New Pairing of Logano, Wolfe Hopes To Be ‘Penske Perfect’ in Daytona 500
Joey Logano knows what it takes to win the 62nd Daytona 500 on Sunday. The Team Penske driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang proved it in the 2015 Daytona 500 when he defeated Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a battle to the checkered flag.

Logano also proved it with his victory in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel on Thursday night at Daytona, waiting until the time was right to take the lead and motor his way to Victory Lane.

By winning Thursday’s first Duel, Logano lines up third on the green for Sunday’s NASCAR gem that is set to start at 2:30 p.m. (ET, FOX), weather permitting. 

Thursday’s win was also important because Paul Wolfe is in charge of Logano’s operation as crew chief this season after a very successful career with fellow Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski.

“That's what you dream of, right?” Logano said of winning with the new boss right out of the box. “When you have a new team like this, all working together, there's going to be some ups and downs. There's going to be a little bit of a learning curve, but being able to knock a win off pretty quick here, even though it's just the Duels and it's not the 500, it's still a momentum-builder. It shows that we all can do it together.

“And even though it is a superspeedway, it's not a Las Vegas or some of the West Coast races coming up, it's still something that we can build off of, which is nice. It's a great thing to have.”

It’s all about teamwork to Logano, and that is what makes him “Penske material.” The ability to work on all areas of racing is why Logano became the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion.

That teamwork was on display in Thursday night’s victory.

“We were able to click off some good pit stops, or a good pit stop tonight, and also just working together with the other Fords and working together as one team really paid off at the end of this thing,” Logano said. “When you are working with someone that you haven't worked with a lot, you tend to over‑communicate on both sides. I think Paul does it and so do I, and I'm the king of asking questions a lot of times. Sometimes dumb questions, but I'll ask them.

“I think that's really excelled some of the communication between the two of us, and also our engineers, all three of us, four of us, work really closely together. This has kind of started over the offseason, talking about setups, talking about how we wanted to race, talking about just so many different things. That's all you can do in the offseason. You don't get to test anymore, so all you can do is talk about race cars, so it was nice to actually work on something and see a little bit of the reward so far early into the week.”

Entering the Daytona 500, the manufacturers have stressed the value of working together. That’s why it was important to have other Fords helping to bring its brand to victory.

But Ricky Stenhouse’s No. 47 Chevrolet at JTG Daugherty Racing was the fastest in that first race. Stenhouse starts on the pole in the Daytona 500.

“One Chevy can't beat six Fords,” Logano said. “It's not going to happen. We just saw a lot of good teamwork with Aric Almirola and also the other Fords behind all of us. We all did what we needed at the right times, and to keep shoving ahead and being able to clear that bottom lane on the last lap was a big deal, and at that point I figured we were going to race pretty hard, and then the 6 (Ryan Newman) got to the outside of the 10 (Almirola) and kind of double-filed it out, and at that point I was able to kind of cruise in.

“It was good teamwork, racing to make sure a Ford wins this thing and take in the points that we can.”

Logano, Keselowski and Ryan Blaney all represent Team Penske in the NASCAR Cup Series. Team owner Roger Penske will be at the Daytona 500 hoping to see one of his entries win the most prestigious race in NASCAR.

Penske hasn’t been at the NASCAR shop as often as past seasons because he’s been a little busy lately with a new project.

On Nov. 4, Penske announced his intent to purchase the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, INDYCAR and IMS Productions. The ownership became official Jan. 6, and Penske and his team have been transforming IMS and INDYCAR into a new era ever since.

“He's got a lot going on, that guy,” Logano told IMS.com. “It’s amazing.

“I think for him, listening to him talk about it, he always goes back to the story about when he went there with his father, at Indy and watching his first Indy 500 in 1951. I think it's a full‑circle thing. He made a comment at one of our team breakfasts, he said something along the lines that I hope my dad is proud of me now.

“How cool is this? He went from watching a race there to winning a boatload of Indy 500s to owning the racetrack.

“It's been really fun, and he is so passionate about it.”

Penske’s transformation of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been quite impressive. He’s announced new initiatives and brought in additional official sponsors in less than 1-1/2 months.

“He's doing it in typical Roger Penske style,” Logano said. “He's walking the whole place and telling everybody this needs to look better and this needs to be cleaner. He wants the fan experience to be top‑notch. He wants it to be ‘Penske Perfect,’ just like our race teams are. I can't wait to see the changes. And obviously they're willing to do some big things with the Xfinity race already. You see that.

“He's not scared to break some glass and make some big moves, but he's also going to make it a world‑class facility, even more so than what it is.”

In addition to preserving the tradition of the mighty Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge and taking it to an even higher level, Penske wants to restore the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard NASCAR weekend.

That is huge for anyone involved in NASCAR, especially as the Brickyard moves to Independence Day Weekend this season.

“You couldn't ask for someone better to own a racetrack,” Logano said. “You want somebody that is passionate about motorsports, passionate about making the experience great, making the racing great. All of that is the utmost importance to him.

“I believe it's more important than making a buck for Roger  That's what we need as a sport. We need people that look at the long road and say, ‘Hey, we're not here for a short‑term gain. We need to make sure this is something that's going to be here for a long time and continue the heritage that so many pioneers of our sport ‑‑ not only of NASCAR but of INDYCAR and everything else they've raced there, to continue that heritage that you see just walking through the Museum there.

“That's important for our future generations to know about motorsports and how we got to this point with just automotive, in general.”

Penske has always taken a long-term view of the sport. Meantime, Logano is hoping to deliver a near-term victory Sunday at Daytona.

“I get excited about winning anything,” Logano said. “I'm obviously a very competitive person and winning anything in Daytona is a really big deal to me, whether it's the Duels, whether it's a tricycle race. I don't really care; I want to win it.  

“So yes, I get very excited. I wanted to do a burnout after winning Thursday night, but I felt like this wasn't the right time to do one of those considering I've got to use this car again.

“I kind of felt like I needed to do a burnout for the fans, for me, because I enjoy it, but we'll have to save it to next Sunday hopefully.”
 
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