Logano gunning for top spot at New Hamp­shire

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS - BY DAN GEL­STON

LOUDON, N.H. — Joey Logano can al­ways count on top billing when he races at what counts as his home­town track.

Take a walk at the New Hamp­shire fan zone and Logano’s name is on the mar­quee high above the ground for the film “Cross-Threaded.” Logano stars with drag racer Robert Hight in a trailer for the faux film spon­sored by AAA that cen­ters on the buddy team search­ing for the miss­ing Golden Lug Nut.

“Turn right!” Hight urges dur­ing a high-speed chase.

“I can’t! I don’t know how!” Logano says.

Cut to the next scene, the driv­ers watch in mock shock, the car en­gulfed in flames.

Yes, the pre­view clip lived up to its “AAA” rat­ing for bad act­ing and cheesy catch­phrases. Fans wait­ing in line to col­lect Logano bob­ble­heads got a kick out of the film and perked up when it was an­nounced Logano would ap­pear Sun­day morn­ing to sign au­to­graphs.

“I’d be here nice and early,” the cheery MC an­nounced.

Logano, a na­tive of Mid­dle­town, Con­necti­cut, will surely find a line a few hours be­fore he slides into the No. 22 car for Sun­day’s race. Site of his first ca­reer Cup win, Logano has al­ways en­joyed a ro­bust fol­low­ing at the speed­way.

“I feel like I am Dale Ju­nior be­cause ev­ery­body likes me,” Logano said, ref­er­enc­ing NASCAR’s most pop­u­lar driver.

Logano needs more than sit­ting atop the NASCAR Q Score among New Eng­land race fans as he makes a push for one of the fi­nal play­off spots.

The 27-year-old Logano is seven points out­side the 16-driver field to se­cure a spot in NASCAR’s ver­sion of the post­sea­son. Most driv­ers au­to­mat­i­cally qual­ify for a spot with a vic­tory, but not Logano. NASCAR es­sen­tially stripped him of all ben­e­fits that came with his April win at Rich­mond be­cause of a rear sus­pen­sion vi­o­la­tion. His win stands in the record book but he was docked sig­nif­i­cant points and his crew chief was sus­pended.

Logano reeled off six top-five fin­ishes in the first nine races that ended at Rich­mond. Since his team was busted, Logano posted just two top-10 fin­ishes over the last nine races and four times he fin­ished 25th or worse.

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