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


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: The challenges of Martinsville Speedway

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What Martinsville Speedway lacks in size compared to other tracks it makes up in difficulty say drivers and NASCAR America’s analysts.

Landon Cassill joined Carolyn Manno, Parker Kligerman and Jeff Burton on Thursday’s show and discussed the challenges of the half-mile paperclip track.

“It can be fun when it’s going well,’’ said Cassill, who will make his Cup season debut this weekend in the No. 00 for StarCom Racing. “That place, if you’re car is not handling well, you can end up going backwards and just by the time you’ve got some clear race track the leader is right behind you. So it can be frustration. I tend to like Martinsville.’’

Kligerman calls racing in the pack at Martinsville Speedway “the most aggressive racing I’ve ever been a part of in my life.’’

Jeff Burton said: “It’s … one of the hardest race tracks we go to period because you have to do it lap after lap after lap and it’s so easy to get, quite simply, just really, really mad at the guy you’re racing with because he’s hitting you and he’s banging on you.’’

Cup drivers have their description of the track. See what NASCAR America’s analysts and Cup drivers have to say about the track that hosts Sunday’s Cup race in the video above.

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Richard Childress Racing reinstates Xfinity crew chief Nick Harrison

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Richard Childress Racing has reinstated Nick Harrison to crew chief  of the No. 3 Xfinity team after he served a five-race suspension for a violation at Daytona International Speedway. 

Harrison’s first race back will be April 8 at Texas.

Harrison was suspended after the No. 3 car of Austin Dillon had a rear suspension violation in pre-qualifying inspection. Harrison and the team’s car chief were ejected by NASCAR after the violation. RCR imposed the suspension.

“I’m looking forward to being back with my team and winning races after my five-race suspension,” Harrison said in a statement from the team.

Brandon Thomas served as the interim crew chief while Harrison was out. Austin Dillon finished a season-best fourth for the team last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Martinsville breakdown, Aric Almirola and Bubba Wallace

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and features host Carolyn Manno and Parker Kligerman in Stamford, Connecticut, and Jeff Burton and Landon Cassill from Burton’s Garage.

Among the topics today:

  •  Prepare for paint swapping, bent fenders, and bruised egos. It’s time to go short-track racing at Martinsville Speedway! Jeff, Parker and Landon will tell you what to expect this weekend at the famous half-mile. We’ll also see what it takes to succeed there, as Parker takes us for some quick laps in the NBCSN iRacing Simulator.
  • After making the switch to Stewart-Haas Racing in the offseason, Aric Almirola is off to the best start of his Cup Series career. Currently 10th in the standings, he’ll tell Marty Snider about his early season success.
  • Since finishing second at the Daytona 500, rookie driver Bubba Wallace has cooled off. Now he faces his first Cup Series start at Martinsville in the iconic No. 43 car, and he’s feeling confident — it’s where Wallace scored his first truck series win nearly five years ago. We’ll examine the struggles he might have to work through this season and also hear his reflections on his early years of racing in the latest edition of “A Driver’s Drive.”

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/ If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Weekend schedule for NASCAR at Martinsville Speedway

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NASCAR returns to its backyard this weekend after the three week West Coast swing.

The Cup and Camping World Truck Series visit Martinsville Speedway in Southern Virginia.

The weekend is capped off by Sunday’s STP 500. It will be the first Cup race broadcast on Fox Sports 1 this year.

Here’s the full weekend schedule complete with TV and radio info.

(All times are Eastern)

Friday, March 23

8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. — Truck garage opens

11:05 – 11:55 a.m. — Truck practice (No TV)

1:05 – 1:55 p.m. — Truck practice (Fox Sports 1)

3:05 – 3:55 p.m. — Final Truck practice (FS1)

Saturday, March 24

7 a.m. – 8 p.m. — Cup garage open

7:30 a.m. — Truck garage opens

10:05 – 10:55 a.m. — Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

11:05 a.m. — Truck qualifying; multi-truck/three rounds (FS1)

12:15 p.m. — Truck driver-crew chief meeting

12:30 – 1:20 p.m. — Final Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

1:30 p.m. — Truck driver introductions

2 p.m. — Alpha Energy Solutions 250; 250 laps/131.5 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

5:10 p.m. — Cup qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, March 25

9:30 a.m. — Cup garage opens

Noon — Driver-crew chief meeting

1:20 p.m. — Driver introductions

2 p.m. — STP 500; 500 laps/263 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)