The last memory for NASCAR fans of the 2022 season is Joey Logano win in Championship 4 in Phoenix. With three months to go between races, he will remain top of mind until the Busch Light Clash in Los Angeles and possibly after.
But does becoming a two-time Cup Series champion make the man behind the wheel of the No. 22 Ford the most valuable driver? NBC racing analyst Jeff Burton thinks so.
Joey Logano will hold the title of champion until 2023
The temptation to call the hero the most valuable driver is understandable. Hardcore fans and casual viewers alike saw him win the final race of the season, making Joey Logano a lasting memory during the bad months. There will be plenty of race winners over the course of the next season, but Logano holds the title of reigning champion until he is dethroned in another 4.
Each champion gets a similar bump in fame, and it’s hardly exclusive to NASCAR. Sports fans and the media gravitate towards the winners.
It should be noted that Lugano isn’t exactly the flavor of the week. Aside from his 2018 Cup Series championship, he has won 31 races in a top-of-the-line series. Wins include the 2015 Daytona 500. Tack on 30 Xfinity Series wins, and Logano is destined for induction into the Hall of Fame.
Determine what makes the most valuable driver in NASCAR
what makes Joey Logano NASCAR’s most valuable driver in the eyes of NBC analyst and Hall of Fame nominee Jeff Burton? This helps to begin with the distinction between ‘Most Valuable Driver’ and ‘Driver of the Year’.
A MLB hitter who finished with a . 310 batting average, 45 home runs, and 120 runs batted in deservedly gets Rookie of the Year honors even if his team finished last in the division. Calling him deserving of the MVP award is a more difficult issue because his team would have finished last even if they hadn’t produced huge numbers.
There is no similar distinction to be made in NASCAR, where for all practical purposes the driver is the team. As such, an easy case to call Joey Logano Driver of the Year. He’s the one to hold the Series trophy, and it’s not as if regular season champ Chase Elliott was overwhelmed with a much better action set before falling short in Phoenix.
But isn’t Ross Chastain season a thing when we’re discussing the most important thing? His first Cup Series win on the Circuit of the Americas, followed by a smashing watermelon, got him a lot of attention. And when he began his wild rush at Martinsville to clinch a Championship 4 berth, Chastain brought exceptional racing interest.
Jeff Burton presents his case to Joey Logano
appear on Podcast Mark, Mamba and the MayorFormer driver Jeff Burton cited a conversation with fellow NBC announcer Steve Lethard in suggesting performance on and off the track is the distinction that matters in NASCAR. Burton loves Joey Logano in this regard.
“(He) does all the things on and off the track. … It’s very hard to be the nice guy off the track, to understand all the things you’re supposed to do, to accept it and go meet sponsor obligations. Go and try to make the sport better than it was when I got here. Do it with passion. Do it with passion. Put on the helmet. I want to be the (expletive) you have to be to win races.”
Logano has done his share of wins by making four trips to Victory Lane, including in Championship 4. And, of course, he has a reputation for skirmishing with more drivers than you can count on tactics when a race is on the line. With these criteria, Burton makes Logano’s case plausible.
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