Joey Logano: A Wild Card Champion

during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2018 in Homestead, Florida.

NASCAR gets its “Game 7” moment. No, the win by Joey Logano at Homestead wasn’t necessarily a photo finish, but a delivery of the unexpected. Logano talked about the “Big Three and Me,” and by golly, someone other than Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. or Kyle Busch came away a winner. Whether for better or for worse, the champion was crowned on November 18th, and not during the regular season. Racing fans don’t like it much, but now, NASCAR is a little more like other sports.

Joey Logano is NASCAR’s wild card champion. He didn’t come roaring out of the 2018 gate like Kevin Harvick. Unlike Harvick and Kyle Busch, Joey Logano did not have a truckload of wins. Logano’s three pale in comparison to the eight won by Harvick and Busch. Truex had more with four, and the simple matter is that MTJ and the other two former champions were consistently better finishes. Heck, if you wanted to add a fourth to the big three, you’d probably be more inclined to include the resurgent Clint Bowyer or the ascending Chase Elliott.

Logano wouldn’t have even been a sentimental favorite. After getting pushed around a lot early in his career, the driver once dubbed “Sliced Bread” has burnt some toast and left a bad taste in the mouths of some competitors. Like other racers who’ve bumped and ran their way to wins, you either see him as a hard racer or a dirty driver. While not exactly a Dale Earnhardt, no one will ever mention Joey Logano in the same breath as Mark Martin either. Say what you will, Logano got something Sunday that eluded Martin. Credit goes to Martin for seeing Logano’s talent as a teen. It took about ten years to reach the peak, but he made it.

Yeah, we’ll hear the tired criticisms of Joey Logano being some rich kid whose dad bought his way in. We’ll hear some strange conspiracy of a fix being in for Ford- as opposed to the old line about Hendrick getting all the favored treatment. There’ll also be the usual carping about the playoff format; good news, it’ll probably change again. It always seems to.

Whatever the case, Joey Logano played the role of a wild card- a survivor who made the plays when he needed them. While not an underdog in the truest sense of the word, there’s no doubt only his most ardent fans thought this day would come to be this year.