The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season marked Joey Logano’s 13th year competing in the series full time and his ninth behind the wheel of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil/Autotrader/AAA/Verizon Ford Mustang. It was also the second year that Logano teamed up with crew chief Paul Wolfe and with the racing world still heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, competition featured limited testing, practice and qualifying, with the exception of new venues on the 2021 calendar.
“Change and challenge present opportunity,” said Logano. “We had the struggles of no practice and qualifying for the majority of the races, also some tracks that were new to the Cup Series schedule, but those were opportunities to come out of the box stronger than our competitors.”
Even as the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Champion and perennial title contender, Logano stunned the NASCAR world by dominating and winning NASCAR’s first dirt race in over 50 years at Bristol Motor Speedway. While many saw Logano as a surprise winner of the late March race in Thunder Valley, it was the preparation by Logano and members of the No. 22 Ford Mustang team that led to the triumph.
“There were a few of us who got together in February and then later in the spring to run a few dirt races,” said Logano. “My car chief Jerry Kelley and long-time friend and Team Penske front tire changer Ryan “Skip” Flores went modified racing to try and get a feel for dirt, see how it changes through a race and make me as prepared as possible before going to Bristol in the Cup Series. That race was one of the challenges that we could find the best possible ways to prepare for and that effort paid off in a marquee win and locked us into the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.”
Throughout the season, the No. 22 Ford team remained one of the best in the series on tracks featuring the 750 horsepower, low-downforce aerodynamic package configuration. The team posted the majority of its 10 top-five finishes on those tracks, while still managing to earn valuable stage points and run competitively on the 550 horsepower, higher-downforce tracks over the course of the season.
After advancing through the Round of 16 and Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs, the fortunes weren’t on the side of the No. 22 Ford team as the car suffered a rare engine failure at Texas Motor Speedway in the opening race of the Round of 8. The engine issue was the first for Logano since 2014 and it came at the worst possible time, as the team then faced a must-win situation to advance to the Championship 4 for the fifth time since 2014. Ultimately, the team was not able to earn a spot in the title race as Logano and the No. 22 Ford Mustang finished eighth in the final season standings.
With the “Next Gen” era set to open in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Season, Logano and the No. 22 Ford team will once again be ranked among the preseason title favorites.
“We had some struggles in 2021 for sure, but this team doesn’t give up,” said Logano, who has now finished inside the top eight in the championship standings for eight out of the last nine years. “They keep fighting, looking for performance gains and how we can constantly improve. I like where we’re headed for the 2022 and the opportunities that lie ahead with the most drastic change in the cars our sport has ever seen.”
Team Penski PR