Logano needs vic­tory soon as play­offs ap­proach

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SCOREBOARD -

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Joey Logano isn’t quite ready to push the panic but­ton as NASCAR’s play­off sea­son looms.

At least he knows what will ease his mind — win­ning one of the next five races.

“I’m not sure it’s even a must-win yet, but it’s get­ting closer to that point,” Logano said Sat­ur­day be­fore Cup prac­tice on the road course at Watkins Glen. “This is one of our best shots, but we also have some great race­tracks com­ing up. We’ve won at four of the next five. We know we can do it.”

Logano has a vic­tory al­ready, but NASCAR ruled that his vic­tory at Rich­mond in April was “en­cum­bered,” so it won’t count to­ward a play­off berth.

Logano has be­come a fix­ture in the play­offs and has made the fi­nal round two times in the three years the cur­rent for­mat has been in place. The only time he failed was when he was in­ten­tion­ally wrecked by Matt Kenseth at Martinsville in 2015. That year, he led the series with six vic­to­ries and ap­peared to be the driver to beat.

But this sum­mer hasn’t been kind to him. In the last 10 races, Logano has six fin­ishes out­side the top 20, and last week at Po­cono the No. 22 Penske Ford team self-de­struc­ted with pit road prob­lems. He had to make three stops late and fin­ished 27th, leav­ing him 69 points be­hind Kenseth in the race for the fi­nal berth in the play­offs.

Both Logano and Clint Bowyer, who en­ters to­day’s race just 17 points be­hind Kenseth, have road-course vic­to­ries on their Cup re­sumes — Logano at Watkins Glen two years ago and Bowyer at Sonoma in 2012. Bowyer fin­ished sec­ond at Sonoma in June be­hind Ste­wart-Haas Rac­ing team­mate Kevin Har­vick, and at Watkins Glen In­ter­na­tional he’s earned one top-five and four top-10s. Kenseth has never won on a road course.

Logano has emerged as a real threat at this track. He’s won two con­sec­u­tive races in the Xfin­ity series and fin­ished sec­ond last year in the Cup race to Denny Ham­lin.

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