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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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Staff picks for today’s Cup race at New Hampshire

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Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Nate Ryan

Kyle Busch. He puts last week’s disappointment behind him with another fast car and (this time) a clean day in the pits.

Dustin Long

Denny Hamlin. He sweeps New Hampshire and Toyota continues its dominance at this track.

Daniel McFadin

Kyle Larson. After charging through the field from the rear in July and finishing second, the No. 42 team finishes the job today.

Jerry Bonkowski

Kevin Harvick. He hasn’t been heard from much recently, but this is the kind of track Harvick is at his best. He wins and moves on to the Round of 12.

Today’s Cup Series race at New Hampshire: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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LOUDON, New Hampshire – The middle race of the first round of the playoffs offers teams that had a bad start a chance to recover or fall further behind.

The pressure builds with the 16-team field cut to 12 after next weekend’s race at Dover.

Here are the details for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern):

START: Marc Del Vecchio, chief technology officer, ISM Connect, will give the command to start engines at 2:07 p.m. Green flag is set for 2:15 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 300 laps (317.4 miles) around the 1.058-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 75. Stage 2 ends on Lap 150.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Cup garage opens at 8:30 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at noon. Driver introductions are at 1:30 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Marine Corps Veteran, “The Singing Trooper,” Daniel M. Clark will perform the Anthem at 2:01 p.m., followed by a flyover from two F-15C Eagles from the 104th Fighter Wing, Barnes Air National Guard Base.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race at 2 p.m. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. on NBCSN with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 1:30 p.m. The Performance Racing Network radio broadcast begins at 1 p.m. on goprn.com and affiliates. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts a temperature of 81 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at race time.

LAST TIME: Denny Hamlin led 54 of 301 laps to win the July race. Kyle Larson placed second. Martin Truex Jr. was third. Kevin Harvick led the final six laps to win this race last year. Matt Kenseth was second. Kyle Busch placed third.

 STARTING LINEUP: Click here for starting lineup

 

Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer tied at top of Xfinity playoff standings

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Justin Allgaier and Cole Custer are tied for the top spot in the Xfinity playoff standings after the playoff opener at Kentucky Speedway.

Each driver has 2,057 points.

Allgaier finished third after bouncing back from losing a tire on Lap 19 and going two laps down. He was two laps down for 27 laps and one lap down for 30 before getting back on the lead lap.

Custer, who finished fifth, won the first two stages of the race, earning two playoff points in the process.

The top five in points are Allgaier, Custer, Elliott Sadler (-2), Daniel Hemric (-5) and William Byron (-6).

Click here for the points standings.

Results from Xfinity race at Kentucky Speedway

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Tyler Reddick scored his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win, leading a 1-2 finish for Chip Ganassi Racing on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Reddick beat teammate Brennan Poole by 14.5 seconds in the playoff opener.

Reddick is the seventh different winner in the last seven series races. He led twice for 66 laps. Reddick had not led any laps until Saturday night.

Playoff contender Justin Allgaier rallied from two laps down after a right front tire went down early in the 200-lap race to finish third. Ryan Preece placed fourth. Rookie Cole Custer, who won both stages, finished fifth.

Click here for race results