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Joey Logano's playoff worries "can change in the snap of a finger"

It’s easy to say Joey Logano wouldn’t have to worry about making the NASCAR playoffs were it not for penalty he and his No. 22 Team Penske team received following his lone victory this season at Richmond, Va.

Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford

That’s because, for all intents and purposes, it’s true.

Logano, now 12th in the series standings, would otherwise be locked into the 16-driver playoff grid. But that’s far from the whole story.

Logano didn’t just lose his playoff eligibility after his win was declared an encumbered finish, his team’s performance took a nose dive as well. In the five races following his win, he didn’t finish better than 23rd.

Whether his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory counted or not, Logano’s performance was going to need to improve.

“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,” Logano said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“We are trying to figure out how to make that speed up. It is nothing from Richmond that would affect what happened. It is easy to assume that though, I agree. If I was on the outside looking in, I would say the exact same thing, but it is not.

“I promise you that. It is not that simple. It never is in our sport.”

In recent weeks, Logano and his team have been able to stem the tide of poor finishes for the most part. He was third at Michigan; 12th at Sonoma, Calif.; 35th at Daytona; and eighth last week at Kentucky.

A strange position

Logano said he is “very surprised” to find himself in a situation where he may not qualify for the playoffs, particularly with how well his season began.

“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,” he said. “I still assume we are going to be there. We just have to work hard to get there.”

Time is running out but Logano remains optimistic.

“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,” he said. “I thought last week we executed a great race, got a good finish out of it.

“I also think about how this team has won three races in a row (before). 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.”

And if his hopes come down to a win-or-you’re-out situation at the regular season finale at Richmond in September?

For starters, he owns a pair of wins at the track, including the victory earlier this season.

“We have become pretty successful at Richmond. It has been a great track for us in the past with a lot of top-five (finishes) and a couple wins,” Logano said. “We still have a lot of races before we get there though.

“When you put this team in a do-or-die situation, this is the team I want to drive for.”

 

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