The Inside Line: Daytona 500 win sinking in for Logano

( – Joey Logano admitted during Monday’s Daytona 500
Champion’s Breakfast that he had a restless night following his win in “The
Great American Race.”

After competing in a frantic Daytona 500, which featured intense three-wide
racing in the late stages, and then celebrating his victory with his No. 22
Team Penske team members late into Sunday night, Logano was indeed tired out.

But Logano could hardly get any shut-eye, as it had dawned on him that he was
the 2015 Daytona 500 champion.

“I didn’t sleep much, that is for sure,” Logano said. “My mind just kept
thinking about the whole race and how it all played out, and I just kept
reliving the moment over and over again. I am really tired right now because I
didn’t sleep much.

“It’s amazing. It is the Daytona 500. This is something that you don’t take
for granted. It is something that is very special. I know that, and I am
excited about the adventure that lies ahead of me and what is going to happen
coming up here in the next few days.”

Logano has a busy schedule ahead of him, which includes appearances on the
“Late Show with David Letterman” and the “Today” show. He’ll also take a trip
to ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Connecticut, located roughly 25 miles northwest
of his hometown of Middletown. Then Logano will head to Atlanta Motor Speedway
for this weekend’s 500-mile race.

Known as “Sliced Bread” during his teenage years, a nickname several of his
fellow competitors used to refer him as the best thing since sliced bread,
Logano became the second-youngest Daytona 500 winner at 24. He added the Harley
J. Earl Trophy (for winning the Daytona 500) to his racing accolades. Logano
also earned a lot of dough — $1,581,453 — for his victory.

“It means a lot,” he said. “There are a lot of great race car drivers that
have never won the Daytona 500. You see the list on the big trophy down there
of all the drivers that have won this thing and to have your name associated
with that means so much.”

Logano’s first win in the Daytona 500 came in his seventh attempt. He had
finished no better than ninth in this race prior to his victory. Last year,
Logano struggled in the restrictor plate races at Daytona and Talladega, which
had him feeling a bit nervous about Sunday’s season opener.

“A couple of months ago, leading into this race, I didn’t feel very confident
that we could come down here and win the Daytona 500, but we kept working at
it and getting better, and before the race, I felt confident that we could
finally win this race,” he said. “I thought we were where we needed to be and
just needed to do what we knew how to do and here we are.”

Despite his restrictor plate race woes, Logano had a banner year in 2014, his
second season with Roger Penske’s team. He made it into the final four for the
championship race at Homestead and nearly won the Sprint Cup title, had it not
been for a mishap on pit road late in the race. Logano’s car came off the jack
stand during his tire change, dropping him far back in the field. He wound up
finishing 16th in that race and ended the season a career-best fourth in
points. Logano also scored five of his then eight career wins in Sprint Cup
last year.

Logano’s future in Sprint Cup was in doubt two-and-a-half years ago when Joe
Gibbs Racing dumped him to make room for Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 car.
Penske picked up Logano for the 2013 season, and it’s been all uphill for him
from there.

“It was definitely the restart I needed in my career to get teamed up with
what I feel like is the best race team on pit road and in the garage,” Logano
said. “They are unbelievable and so well matched up with each other and help
each other out when someone needs it. That is what the team is. All the way
through from the top to the bottom.

“It starts with Roger. It starts with the leader of the pack and trickles down
through the whole organization. Not just in his race teams but everything else
he does. To be involved in that and a part of Team Penske, there is a sense of
pride you take in that. That is something I am proud to say, that I am a Team
Penske driver. Even cooler to say we won the big trophy together.”

It’s the second time Penske has won the Daytona 500. He did it in 2008 with
driver Ryan Newman. Penske holds the record for most team owner victories in
the Indianapolis 500 with 15.

Logano made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship the past two seasons.
His Daytona 500 win virtually guarantees him a spot in this year’s Chase.

“It’s nice,” he said. “It is not going to change the way I race. I feel like
as a driver I go out there to win. That is my job. That is not going to change
because we are in the Chase now. We are going to go to Atlanta, and I really
want to win that race.”

Until he arrives at Atlanta, Logano will enjoy his celebration.