Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Joey Logano knows he needs to win another
race during the regular season if he wants to make the 12-driver field for
this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
With six races to go before the Chase begins, Logano sits fourth in the wild
card standings. Kasey Kahne currently holds the first of two wild card
positions by virtue of his two wins (Charlotte and New Hampshire). Kyle Busch,
who is Logano's teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, occupies the final spot with his
one victory (Richmond) and 11th in the point rankings. Ryan Newman's victory
at Martinsville and 14th in points has him third in the wild card battle right
Logano put himself in contention to qualify for the Chase when he won the June
10 race at Pocono Raceway. He held the third spot in the wild card standings
and ranked 15th in points at the time. Logano's fourth-place finish last month
at Daytona placed him 14th in points and allowed him to take over the second
wild card position. But he has slipped since then, finishing 14th two weeks
ago at New Hampshire and 33rd last Sunday at Indianapolis.
"If I can get another win, that's two wins," said Logano, who is now 17th in
points. "If they (Busch and Newman) get another win and get two wins, I'll be
out. The points do matter. But also the win is more important right now than
"Obviously, points come with the win, so that would also help me move up. But
if there's three people with two wins, which I think there's a good chance
that could happen, you're going to have to be the guy that is up there with
the points too."
The field for the Chase, which starts Sept. 16 at Chicagoland, consists of the
top-10 drivers in points and the two wild cards, which go to drivers outside
the top-10 with the most wins, as long as they are ranked in the top-20. If
multiple drivers outside the top-10 tie for wins, the tie-breaker will go to
the race winner with the highest points position.
Logano is hoping his next victory will come this weekend at Pocono, a
racetrack where he has performed quite well lately. He has started on the pole
in the last two races there. One year ago, Logano led the way when the race
was stopped on lap 124 due to rain, but it resumed after a 1 hour, 40 minute
delay. He ended up finishing 26th. Brad Keselowski won the event, even though
he drove with a broken left ankle. Keselowski sustained the injury in a crash
while testing at Road Atlanta days before the Pocono race.
Logano claimed his second career win in the Sprint Cup Series two months ago
at Pocono. He made a bump and run on long-time veteran Mark Martin for the
lead in the closing laps. Logano also set a new track qualifying record there.
His lap of 179.598 mph on the newly repaved surface was 5 mph faster than the
previous mark, set by Kasey Kahne in 2004. In fact, the top-36 drivers in
qualifying surpassed the eight-year-old record.
"We go into Pocono with a lot of confidence after winning there earlier this
year, with a really strong car that's fast in practice, qualified on the pole
and won the race," Logano said. "When you have a car like that, if we are
bringing back the same one, I guess we'll be going in with a lot of confidence
to the weekend."
If Logano were to follow the same path as Keselowski did one year ago, he
would make the Chase. Before the Aug. 2011 race at Pocono, Keselowski sat 21st
in the standings (95 points behind then 10th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr.). But
the Penske Racing driver went on a tear during the month of August. He won at
Pocono and Bristol as well as finished second at Watkins Glen, N.Y. and third
Keselowski ended last year's regular season 11th in points, but his three
victories earned him the first wild card spot. He first win of the 2011 season
came in the inaugural spring race at Kansas. Keselowski went on to finish the
year fifth in points.
When the series raced on Pocono's new coat of asphalt earlier this year,
NASCAR officials issued a whopping 22 penalties for driving too fast while
entering or exiting pit road. Eighteen of them occurred within the first 70
laps of the 160-lap (400-mile) race. The pit road area at Pocono was
lengthened during its repavement process. Therefore, the number of segments
increased from 10 to 11, with the last section expanded from 56 feet to 83.
Keselowski received two of those penalties, which led to an 18th-place finish.
"I think everyone on the (No. 2 team) is anxious to get back to Pocono after
our first race there this year," he said. "We had a good car, but different
circumstances kept popping up that prevented us from getting a top-10 finish.
It's definitely a different racetrack after the repave, but that's not
necessarily a bad thing.
"It's very fast and very smooth, but the new asphalt took away the outside
groove in turn three. That was always an ideal place to pass. Even though it's
not the same racetrack as last year, we are still going back as the defending
winner of this event. That always provides a level of confidence for any
Forty-four teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Pennsylvania 400.
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, August 5. Race: Pennsylvania 400.
Site: Pocono Raceway. Track: 2.5-mile tri-oval. Start time: 1 p.m.(ET). Laps:
160. Miles: 400. 2011 Winner: Brad Keselowski. Television: ESPN. Radio: Motor
Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.
The Sports Network