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Can Joey Logano’s recent slide finally come to an end Sunday at Michigan?

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Joey Logano has one Cup win in 2017, at Richmond on April 30.

If you thought that win clinched a spot for Logano in the upcoming 10-race NASCAR playoffs, you’d be wrong.

Logano’s win was encumbered due to a suspension violation found in inspection at the NASCAR R&D Center after Richmond. While the win still counted in the standings, it did not count toward playoff eligibility.

Compounding matters is Logano has not finished in the top 20 in each of the last five races. Since his win at Richmond, Logano has finished 32nd (Talladega), 37th (Kansas), 21st (Charlotte), 25th (Dover) and 23rd (Pocono).

Also during that time, the Team Penske driver has dropped from fifth to 11th in the Cup standings.

Just when Logano thinks he’s about ready to snap the streak, he has continued to extend it – mostly not of his own doing.

“It is not fun,” Logano said. “You have to keep life in perspective a lot of times with what you are doing out there.

“One of the funniest comments, maybe not the truth but, someone said, ‘We aren’t curing cancer out there, we are just trying to make circles really fast.’ It is something we can fix. This team is strong. We have been through this stuff before.”

But now Logano is back in friendly territory at Michigan International Speedway for the FireKeepers Casino 400 Cup race this weekend – a race he won last year.

Could Logano’s luck finally turn around at the 2-mile, high-speed oval?

“Yeah, of course,” he said. “Anytime you come to one of your best race tracks like here at Michigan, especially the way our last month-and-a-half has gone, it is a confidence builder for sure.”

This will be Logano’s 17th career Cup start at MIS. During that time, he’s earned two wins, four top-fives and 11 top 10s, as well as three poles.

And he was seventh in Friday’s qualifying session.

If there’s any place Logano can get another win and finally lock himself into the playoffs – provided it’s not another encumbered victory – is Sunday.

“It is on my mind,” Logano said of not being locked into the playoffs. “I would be lying if I said it wasn’t, but it isn’t something I am very concerned about.

“I feel like this team is strong enough to get through it. We just need to get through it, build momentum. The way these stages are, you can gain points pretty quick. We have proven we can lose them pretty quick.

“We have to be able to string three or four solid races together like we know how to. We have strung 15-20 great races together before. It is nothing this team hasn’t done before.”

Recording the third-fastest speed in Friday’s lone practice session behind Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch is a good start.

“To be able to unload today with decent speed, then switch to qualifying trim and find more that last run is definitely a nice turnaround for us,” he said. “We have been lacking a little speed but this seems like the best race track for us to turn this around.”

What has caused one of the worst streaks of misfortune and poor finishes in his career is still mystifying.

“We have about 15 areas we think,” Logano said. “A lot of it is process of elimination. I think there is a certain area we think we can get better but it takes a lot of time to fix that.

“It is not just a spring or wedge. Believe me, we have changed every spring we can change in these things. Over time we should be able to get back where we want to and already we are moving that way.

“We are balancing our cars better and trying to get to where we can get into the corner better. That seems to be our biggest lack right now, the entry of the corners. We are trying to fix that.

“It seems we’ve made a decent step this week. It seems like we are in a step in the right direction. We will keep working.”

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NASCAR America teaming up with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

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Wednesday will mark the beginning of a new relationship between NASCAR America and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Every Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. ET, a NASCAR on NBC personality will appear on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive,” which is hosted by Pete Pistone and Mike Bagley.

Analyst Steve Letarte will be the first guest.

Pistone will also make regular appearances on NASCAR America.

Pistone joined NASCAR America Tuesday night to preview the new relationship and the storylines heading into the second half of the NASCAR season.

The main theme of the discussion was the building frustration for Joe Gibbs Racing, which is winless through 16 races. Though the driver getting the most attention has been Kyle Busch, there’s three other drivers who are looking to win, including Denny Hamlin.

“We had his crew chief Mike Wheeler on the ‘Morning Drive’ last week and the frustration, you can feel it there,” Pistone said. “They also felt a bit optimistic, especially going to Sonoma because he runs so well there, he ran so well and almost won the race last year until Tony Stewart got him on the last lap. … I still think there’s optimism there in the 11 camp, they’re finding the speed they’ve been missing so far in the first half of the year. The next race at Daytona could be the place you see Denny Hamlin bust down the door to victory lane.”

Watch the above video for more from Pete Pistone.

NASCAR America: Sprint racing keeps Kyle Larson in shape for NASCAR

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Kyle Larson is in the midst of his best NASCAR Cup Season to date. He leads the points standings and has two wins, at Auto Club Speedway and Michigan Speedway.

You might be able to attribute his hot streak to another form of racing.

Larson, a product of the dirt racing circuit, told NASCAR America’s Marty Snider the 25 sprint car races he’s allowed to drive in each year by Chip Ganassi Racing keep him on his toes physically.

“I’ve gotten a little bit into working out this year, I’d rather race to get my exercise in,” Larson said. “Racing to me is fun, but also exercise and it keeps your mind in it. You’re putting yourself in more racing situations than everybody else in the field. I think it definitely benefits me.”

Larson maybe spent by this time next week. Following Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona (at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC), Larson will compete in four straight days of sprint cars race in Pennsylvania.

The Ganassi driver goes to Daytona looking to finish what he started in the Daytona 500. He was leading at the white flag before he ran out of gas in Turns 1 and 2.

“It’s difficult, it’s a long race,” Larson said. “There’s so much that goes on throughout the race, it’s hard to catch on TV. But we’re figuring it out all it in the car and learning who is good to work with and who is not. It’s interesting. It’s definitely a different style of racing I’m getting used to.”

Larson’s best finish in at Daytona was sixth place in last year’s July race.

Watch the above video for the full interview.

 

NASCAR America: Scan All: Anger and miscommunication at Sonoma Raceway

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Some people like to call road courses the new short tracks in NASCAR and at the end of Sunday’s Cup race at Sonoma, many cars backed up that assessment.

When there’s beat up cars, that means tempers flared, which makes for an interesting edition of NASCAR America’s Scan All. This week’s version gives you some of the best scanner traffic from Kevin Harvick‘s win at the California track.

Highlights include:

  • Israeli-born driver Alon Day, making his Cup debut, telling crew chief Randy Cox he can’t understand his accent. “You have to talk a bit slower so I can understand every word.”
  • “I needed a lot more help on that. The spotter doesn’t tell me ****.” – Danica Patrick after her Lap 14 accident with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • “We’ve got your in-car camera here. That was fun to watch. A little scary, but fun to watch.” – Crew chief Ernie Cope to AJ Allmendinger after he went from 11th to first in one lap on a restart.
  • “This year just could not get any better,” the sarcastic response of Kyle Busch to receiving a pit road speeding penalty.

Watch the above video for more from Scan All.

The Ragged Edge: ‘Days of Thunder’ celebrates 27 years

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Back in the yesteryear of 1986, Paramount Pictures released a little movie called Top Gun.

Directed by Tony Scott and starring a young actor named Tom Cruise, the movie depicted a hot-shot, hard-headed fighter pilot named Pete “Maverick” Mitchell who competed for supremacy at an aviation school against a rival nicknamed “Ice Man.”

Backed by the sounds of Kenny Loggins, the Righteous Brothers and Cheap Trick, the two rivals clashed in the skies and on volleyball courts, all while Maverick flirted with a his female instructor, ‎Kelly McGillis’ “Charlie.”

The movie made a lot of money.

Three years later, they made the same movie … sort of. This time, Cruise was piloting stock cars in the world of NASCAR.

Twenty-seven years ago today, Days of Thunder roared into theaters on matched perfect and staggered special tires.

Once again directed by Scott and with the same golden color palate from Top Gun, Cruise portrayed Cole Trickle as he faced off with Michael Rooker’s Rowdy Burns, clashed egos with Robert Duvall’s Harry Hogge and did some more flirting, this time with his doctor, played by Nicole Kidman.

It didn’t make a lot of money, grossing $82 million domestically to Top Gun‘s $176 million.

But who cares?

Almost 30 years later, it’s still the closest fictional representation of NASCAR that’s ever graced the silver screen (we don’t need to mention a certain Will Farrell movie).

Was it completely faithful to stock-car racing?

Of course not, especially since there’s nothin’ stock about a stock car.

Did it have a have bizarre editing that made it look like a race was taking place at Daytona, Darlington and another track at the same time?

You betcha’.

Did the late Bobby Hamilton make his first Cup start driving a car used in the movie?

It’s true! Hamilton qualified third at Phoenix in the No. 51 Chevrolet owned by Hendrick Motorsports and even led five laps.

As absurd as the move could get, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel gave the movie a positive review. Decades later, Days of Thunder had enough authenticity to have an impact on those in the sport today.

“Makes you feel old, doesn’t it?” Dale Earnhardt Jr. told the New York Times in 2010, the movie’s 20th anniversary. “It was interesting to see our sport be put into the mainstream and be a part of that. I think it did a lot for our sport to be honest with you even though the critics weren’t solid on the movie and lot of people had different opinions about it. It got our sport a lot of exposure. The movie was fun to watch, regardless of whether it’s good or not.”

 (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

Four years ago, Kurt Busch paid tribute to the movie by racing one of the paint scheme’s from the movie in the July Xfinity race at Daytona.

Then there’s his brother, Kyle.

Kyle Busch goes by the nickname “Rowdy,” which was the name of Rooker’s character in the movie.

Two years ago, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, his crew chief Adam Stevens, Joe Gibbs and Busch’s wife, Samantha, put their best foot forward for a recreation of the Days of Thunder trailer to promote the Crispy line of M&M’s.

Though in this video, Busch assumed the Cole Trickle role.

He’s no Tom Cruise.

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