For­get points, Logano rac­ing to win at Tal­ladega

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Dave Skretta

Joey Logano knows he is in the most pre­car­i­ous of po­si­tions head­ing to the Chase elim­i­na­tion race at Tal­ladega, tied for the eighth and fi­nal spot for ad­vanc­ing to the next round of NASCAR’s play­offs.

There are two clear strate­gies his Penske Rac­ing team could em­ploy.

The first is the rel­a­tively low-risk op­tion: They could spend the en­tire race at the un­pre­dictable su­per­speed­way spy­ing on Austin Dil­lon, who is even with him in points, and Denny Ham­lin and Brad Ke­selowski, who are also within strik­ing dis­tance, and en­sure they get through on points.

The riskier op­tion? Race to win, points be damned.

“That’s the way I race. I don’t know a dif­fer­ent way,” said Logano, whose third-place fin­ish be­hind Kevin Har­vick and Carl Ed­wards on Sun­day at Kansas at least made the points route pos­si­ble.

“I’m sure we’ll talk about it this week,” Logano added, “but I’m a racer.”

At least three Chase con­tenders don’t have the same dilemma. Har­vick and Jim­mie John­son are al­ready locked into the next round by virtue of their wins in the first two stops of the round, and Chase El­liott’s trou­ble for the se­cond straight week left him in a must-win sit­u­a­tion.

The other nine driv­ers are much like Logano, rac­ing to win but keep­ing a wary eye on points.

“The big thing that swung every­thing around was Kevin win­ning. We would have been in pretty good shape if he had fin­ished se­cond,” Logano said.

“It isn’t dis­ap­point­ing be­cause we still should be proud of the ef­fort we had, but it would have meant a lot if he fin­ished se­cond.”

That’s be­cause Har­vick had prob­lems of his own in the round at Char­lotte, which means even se­cond place at Kansas would have put him squarely on the bub­ble head­ing to Tal­ladega.

Logano should at least have some con­fi­dence head­ing to the vo­latile re­stric­tor-plate track. After years of mostly ter­ri­ble re­sults, he won there to com­plete a sweep of the en­tire round last fall.

Mean­while, Dil­lon was third there ear­lier this year, Ham­lin won there a cou­ple of years ago and Ke­selowski won for the fourth time there ear­lier this year.

“I don’t think it’s a must­win sit­u­a­tion,” said Ke­selowski, who spun into the grass and tore up his car be­fore fin­ish­ing 38th at Kansas.

“I’m not wor­ried about it. I’m go­ing to go there and bust my butt to try to win, but I don’t think it’s a must-win yet.”

Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Ed­wards and Kurt Busch are rel­a­tively safe after steer­ing clear of ma­jor trou­ble the last two rounds, and Martin Truex Jr. has a 13-point cush­ion over eighth place.

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