How 2021 ended:
This was Logano’s worst season statistically since 2017. Just like in that season, Logano managed just one win and only 10 top-five finishes in 2021. It was also the fourth time since 2012 that he won only one race in a season.
While he qualified for the playoffs for the seventh time in the eight years since the current elimination system came into play, he was not as much of a factor as we are used to seeing with the exception of finishing third in October at Talladega. A blown engine to open the Round of 8 at Texas put him in a troublesome spot he couldn’t recover from to advance.
Car: No. 22 Team Penske Ford
Crew chief: Paul Wolfe
Final 2021 ranking: 8th
Key stats: 1 win, 10 top fives, 19 top 10s, 453 laps led
Logano’s best race came in his sole win of the 2021 campaign when he captured the checkered flag in late March on a dirt track that was laid upon the regular 0.533-mile concrete racing surface at Bristol Motor Speedway. While Martin Truex Jr. led almost half the race (126 laps in the 253-lap overtime event), Logano led the final 61 laps to take home the win.
Other season highlights:
Logano looked like a legitimate championship contender in the first half of the season. The 2018 NASCAR Cup champ earned runner-up finishes in two of the first five races (Daytona Road Course and Phoenix), as well as seven top-five finishes in the first 16 events. But from the second Pocono race on (the back half of a weekend doubleheader at the 2.5-mile tri-oval), Logano struggled far too often. His worst slump came in a four-race stretch — Watkins Glen (finished 22nd), Indianapolis Road Course (34th), Michigan (33rd) and Daytona summer race (23rd).
Stat to know:
Logano of Middletown CT is known as the type of driver who likes to get out in front and stay there. But that didn’t happen much in 2021: he led just 453 laps, his second-lowest total since 2017 (376 laps) and third-lowest since 2013 (323 laps). By comparison, he led 993 laps in 2014, a career-high 1,431 in 2015, 703 in 2016, 934 in his 2018 championship season, 899 in 2019 and 939 in 2020.
“It wasn’t the finish we wanted for the Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang (11th in the season finale at Phoenix) — not the way we wanted to end the season. … But all in all, it was a decent end to the season. … I’m excited for the Next Gen car and to get things going for next season. I’m not much for an off-season — I’d just like to keep racing.” — Logano said following the conclusion of the 2021 season.
Logano should become the sixth full-time driver to reach 500 career Cup starts in 2022. He comes into the season with 471 starts, and if all goes well, he will hit No. 500 in the Bristol playoff race. Kurt Busch (756) has the most starts among active full-time drivers, followed by Kevin Harvick (754), Kyle Busch (606), Truex (585) and Denny Hamlin (578). Of note, even years have treated Logano well as he’s made the Championship 4 in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020.
Logano essentially inherits the No. 1 spot as team leader with Team Penske now that Brad Keselowski has moved into a team ownership deal with Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing. Logano will enter his 14th full-time Cup season in 2022, the last nine with Penske. He’ll once again be joined by Ryan Blaney as his Team Penske teammate, while Austin Cindric moves up from the Xfinity Series to replace Keselowski in the No. 2 Ford. Harrison Burton moves up from Xfinity to Cup and will drive for the Team Penske affiliate, Wood Brothers Racing, in the upcoming season.