Logano Focused On Playoff Berth

Joey Logano

“This isn’t what you expect when you start the season. You go out there expecting to win the championship and the playoffs you just assume you would be there. I still assume we are going to be there. We just have to work hard to get there.” (Photo: Getty Images)

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Joey Logano remains focused on securing a spot in this year’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
 
The Team Penske driver is on the outside looking in right now on the 16-driver grid for this year’s playoff race. His win at Richmond Raceway earlier this year was deemed encumbered by NASCAR after Logano’s car failed post race inspection. Although the win stands in the record book, the violation means it does not count toward earning a playoff berth.
 
So with only eight races remaining in the regular season, Logano has work to do in order to secure an opportunity to battle for a title.
 
 “It is going to be a battle to the end for sure,” Logano said Friday at new Hampshire Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Overton’s 301. “Our team is still capable of winning. We do have to get a little more speed in our cars. I think that is apparent. We have to be able to make our cars faster. I thought last week we executed a great race, got a good finish out of it. We have to score more stage points for sure. Ultimately we need to win a race, or two, or three. As it comes closer you start thinking about that more but I also think about how this team has won three races in a row. 
 
“You do that and all of a sudden the whole story is changed and we would have the most points starting the playoffs. It can change in the snap of a finger. Any team can take off on a streak like that. It is a matter of getting the speed back. I feel the team is where it needs to be. Pit stops are where they need to be. We are racing well and we just need to get faster. That is the biggest thing right now.”
 
Most did not see Logano in this position as the season raced to the middle of July. Count Logano as one of those people.
 
“Very surprised,” he said. “This isn’t what you expect when you start the season. You go out there expecting to win the championship and the playoffs you just assume you would be there. I still assume we are going to be there. We just have to work hard to get there.”
 
There is speculation by some since the Richmond violation, the No. 22 team hasn’t been able to push the envelope as much and what they were doing prior to that win can no longer happen in the wake of the penalty.
 
But Logano doesn’t subscribe to that theory and believes there have been a variety of factors impacting the team’s performance.
 
“Yeah, I think we know what it is and I don’t think it is that,” Logano said. “That was so small that it didn’t make our car faster. That is the unfortunate part. it wasn’t something we were trying to do, it was something that happened after the race and it was a 32nd-of-an-inch. It wasn’t making our car faster. It wasn’t something that is taking away from the rest of these races. 
 
“After Richmond, we had three crashes in a row. There were some different modifications to our bodies that NASCAR started regulating that took some performance away from our cars and we have to try to make that up. That is kind of the biggest thing right now. We are trying to figure out how to make that speed up. It is nothing from Richmond that would affect what happened.”
 
Getting another win at New Hampshire would be especially satisfying for Logano, who considers it his home track. The Connecticut native would like nothing more than to find Victory Lane on Sunday and celebrate with family and friends.
 
“I started my first Cup race here, watched my first one here, won our first one here,” he said. “It makes it a special place anytime I come here. I am able to see a lot of friends at this race track as well. It is one of the most special places to win. 
 
“When we won that race a couple of years ago I look at that as the biggest win of my career. Bigger than the Daytona 500 to me. That is what this track means to me. If we can make it happen again - we will try our hardest and hopefully get it.”
 

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