November 29, 2018 | By Lee Spencer

Todd Gordon relishing first Cup championship with Joey Logano

Photo by PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Behind every championship driver there’s a crew chief pushing him to the finish line.

Todd Gordon has called the shots for Joey Logano and the No. 22 Team Penske Ford since 2013. Not only has the team qualified for the Playoffs in five of those six years, but Logano also has advanced to the Championship 4 Round three times.

The third time was a charm for the Penske duo—and there’s no one Gordon would prefer to have behind the wheel than Logano.

“You look at all of sports, I would put Joey in the Michael Jordan, Tom Brady category,” Gordon told “He has a level and he executes at that level until the money is on the line, until it’s all on his shoulders. After that last pit stop, when there’s blood in the water, he goes and gets it. There’s another level to him that he can elevate himself to. It’s really special to see that out of a driver.

“He’s a great person, a great dad and a great giver outside of the race car, but when he puts that helmet on, he’s all business.”

Gordon, 48, understands that killer instinct. The Camden, N.Y., native started racing Limited Supermodifieds at Oswego Speedway while he was finishing his engineering degree at Clemson University. Gordon changed gears to Late Models before returning to the Carolinas in 1998 to pursue NASCAR opportunities.

After working his way up to a racing engineer position with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2002, Gordon worked on a variety of Xfinity Series teams before overseeing Team Penske’s No. 22 Xfinity squad in 2011. The next year, he was promoted to Cup with AJ Allmendinger.

Logano was recruited for the No. 22 ride for the 2013 season. Together, Gordon and Logano have won 19 races, 16 poles and posted 89 top fives and 141 top 10s in 248 starts. They qualified for the Playoffs for the first four years until they came up empty in 2017.

Last year’s setback made the No. 22 Team Penske crew stronger in 2018. Although the Big Three of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. dominated the conversation during the regular season, Logano remained in the hunt. His Talladega Superspeedway victory in April was Penske’s only win in the first 24 races. Sure, all three Penske teams were comfortably in the Playoffs with two races left to determine the post-season grid, but Stewart-Haas Racing led the Ford charge with 10 of 11 wins.

At the IndyCar race at Gateway Motorsports Park during the NASCAR off-week, team owner Roger Penske insisted his teams were in good shape. The cars had speed. Logano, particularly, had picked up the pace during the summer months. Penske insisted the teams were taking risks, pushing the cars to the limit to see what would benefit the drivers over the final 10 races.

“After the win at Talladega we spent the summer trying to find different avenues of finding speed,” Gordon said. “Some of them worked and some of them didn’t. It probably showed that we looked more lackluster than we were probably capable of. When we got to August, we had a handful of races before the Playoffs and we put our focus back on what had been successful during the summer and started putting a package together.

“Everybody at Team Penske did an awesome job of continuing to develop the Ford Fusion. We were off a little bit and we kept building better race cars and it showed. The three races in a row that Brad (Keselowski) had there leading into the Playoffs, then (Ryan) Blaney won and we won, too. Everybody at Team Penske kept focused forward on what we needed to do to be successful and to get to the point where we are today and winning the championship.”

After winning the first title for Ford Performance since Kurt Busch’s championship in 2004—and the first ever for the Fusion—Gordon and the rest of the Blue Oval Brigade will be tasked with developing the new Mustang for 2019. Introducing a new car is difficult enough, but since Ford announced Mustang’s arrival for the Cup Series, NASCAR also released a new rules package for next season.

With the depth of Penske’s resources and the assistance from Ford, Gordon doesn’t seem concerned. One bonus of advancing to the Championship 4 Round includes the first test of the new car in January at Auto Club Speedway.

“Fortunately, we have great departments and people back at Team Penske,” Gordon said. “Our aerodynamic department has been involved with Ford in the development of the Ford Mustang—along with the Stewart-Haas guys. All of the Ford partners coordinated that effort together. So we’ve got a good notebook of how the development went to get to this point. I look forward to the Mustang and the improvements we can make with it.

“The other piece that I think will be better for us than it has over the last two years is if you look back at the body new formation for Toyota, it took them a little while until they got to Charlotte and got that car rolling after they came out with it. Chevrolet took a while this year to get rolling. For us, we have a new car with a whole new aero package, so everybody has to figure out the aero package. I think it levels out the playing field. I really look forward to working with the new Mustang.”


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