Logano: “I’m starting to see the benefits of starting as young as I did”

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Joey Logano’s nickname may be “Sliced Bread,” but he’s aging rather like a fine wine – getting better and more mature with age.

Now 24, Logano, who at 18 went through a tough learning process as he adapted to running full-time in NASCAR Sprint Cup, is now finally reaching the potential many identified when he was a talented, but still raw, teenager.

“I’ve said this earlier this year, but I’m finally starting to see the benefits of starting as young as I did,” Logano told reporters at his media availability Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“When I was 18, I had the cake and the car that was gonna be my first race in Dover. Now at 24, that was a while ago, but I’m seeing the benefits. I’m starting to reach my peak of where I need to be.”

Logano had to endure a number of negative headlines and press through his upbringing and struggles with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Now, into his second year at Team Penske and tied for the most number of wins this season (five, shared with teammate Brad Keselowski), Logano is handling the positive accolades with humility and with respect knowing he still has more to accomplish.

“I’m doing OK with it, and it’s a lot easier when it’s positive!” he said. “One of the coolest things now is we’re the points leader. So parking in the first spot, first garage stall, it is something special. It’s never happened before. I’ve been able to handle all the press. It’s easier when it’s positive. But as Roger likes to say, you can’t trip over your own press clippings.”

Asked what he’d proven this season, Logano said that could mean different things to different parties.

“I’ve hopefully proven I should be here,” he said. “To me, that’s an interesting question. That’s different to everyone. It could be a championship, it could be multiple race wins in a season, it could be top-10s.

“To me, I’m never where I want to be. I’m never good enough. That’s something that’s gotten me to this point. You take it within reason, otherwise you don’t have any confidence. But know you’re not perfect or where you need to be. If you think you are, it’s only a couple weeks until someone passes you.”

Looking back on what’s been a career season, Logano can afford to enjoy the ride a bit over the next couple weeks before clamping down and needing to worry about advancing again from the Eliminator round after Phoenix heading into Homestead.

“I’ve enjoyed the whole roll of it. Without the experience I had, I wouldn’t be the person I am now,” he said. “I’m lucky I went through that. I understand now what it means to be sitting here. I needed it as a person. I wanted to make sure to enjoy the moment.”

Logano has a different livery on his No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford this weekend, now adorned in Pennzoil Platinum colors.