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Joey Logano has two things on his wish list: more speed and more wins

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Sometimes, you have to go back home to get back on the right path.

That’s what Joey Logano is doing this weekend. The Middletown, Connecticut native has long considered New Hampshire Motor Speedway as his home track.

And given where Logano is in the NASCAR Cup standings, he definitely can use some good old fashioned home cooking this weekend.

The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford comes into Sunday’s Overton’s 301 in a difficult position.

First, he’s 17th in the NASCAR Cup standings, seven points out of the top 16 drivers. In other words, if the playoffs were to begin today, Logano would likely not qualify.

Second, even though Logano has one win this season (Richmond), the result was encumbered due to a post-race inspection violation.

That means Logano does not get credit for the win in terms of qualifying for the playoffs. Things got even worse after that encumbered win: in the nine races since then, he’s finished 20th or worse six times (including five in a row).

Admittedly, he finished third at Michigan and eighth last week at Kentucky, but there’s no question the pressure is on Logano even more to get at least one win over the next eight races, between now and the final playoff qualifying race at Richmond in September.

Logano admits he’s ‘very surprised’ to be in such a position.

“This isn’t what you expect when you start the season,” he added. “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. It is going to be a battle to the end for sure.”

Logano has rarely been in this kind of position. At this time of season, he’s typically focusing on winning a championship.

But now, he’s not even thinking championship. He knows he has to walk before he can run – and that means he needs at least one more win between now and Richmond to all but assure he’ll make the playoffs in the first place.

“It is kind of interesting that we’re in this unique position right now trying to make the playoffs,” Logano said. “A lot of times you kind of take that for granted in a way. The last few years you are thinking about winning (the championship).

“Right now we are thinking about needing to get in first. The mindset has changed a little bit but that is just a situation that we are in after a few bad races.”

Part of that problem is both Logano and teammate Brad Keselowski have struggled for speed over the last several races in their respective Ford Fusions.

“Our team is still capable of winning,” Logano said. “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.”

New Hampshire’s “Magic Mile” has indeed been magical for Logano. In 17 prior NASCAR Cup starts on the 1.058-mile flat oval, he has two wins, six top-fives and eight top-10s.

And while it will be good racing in front of a number of family members and friends, Logano says the strategy for Sunday isn’t radically different than any other track he’s been at up to this point – or will continue to be until the Richmond playoff cutoff race.

“It is all race to race, none of this is new,” Logano said. “If you think about it, we do this throughout the playoffs. You have a cut-off every three races and you know the points are close.

“They will be closer this year than ever with the stages and how that works. I think of Phoenix last year. We went into that race do or die and we won. Talladega was the same thing. Do or die and we won.

“We are going to get in a situation that is do or die and I have more faith in this team that it is going to happen than not. This team rises to the occasion for sure. When the pressure is on, they show up. It is just a matter of time before that happens.”

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NASCAR America: Should penalty for failing inspection be more severe?


After 13 cars failed qualifying inspection last Friday at Auto Club Speedway, NASCAR America’s analysts addressed the current state of rules that resulted in all thirteen teams not getting to make a qualifying attempt.

While Kyle Busch said the issues are “not that big deal,” especially with the new scanning system still in its infancy, Jeff Burton disagrees. Burton points to how much engineering has become involved in the sport and trying make cars better with NASCAR’s rules.

“It’s snowballed into this great big bag of rules,” Burton said. “We have all these rules that the teams have forced NASCAR to create. I don’t know the way out of it. There’s two ways to do it. You make the penalties harsher, with the theory being they won’t do it if the penalty is so harsh, or you have less rules. The problem is if you have less rules you’re going to have more cars that aren’t within those rules as they are.”

After the issues in Cup qualifying, NASCAR told Xfinity Series teams on Saturday that any team that did not attempt a lap in qualifying would start from the rear of the field and be required to serve a pass-through penalty once the green flag waved.

“It is a mess, but I disagree with Kyle (Busch), it is a big deal,” Burton said, citing fans who don’t get to see their favorite driver qualifying. “That’s not good. That’s not good for sponsors, that’s mainly not good for mainly race fans. If race fans tune in and their guy isn’t on track, why are they going to tune in next week? They deserve to see their guy on track. It’s got to get fixed.”

NASCAR announced Monday that inspection this weekend at Martinsville Speedway would take place after qualifying and would also serve as pre-race inspection.

Jarrett, who said there are too many rules, agreed with Burton.

“The only way of fixing this is making the penalty so severe that these teams aren’t going to take any chances,” Jarrett said.

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Auto Club Speedway recap, West Coast Awards

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and looks back at the weekend’s racing at Auto Club Speedway.

Rutledge Wood hosts with Jeff Burton, Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett from the “Big Oak Table” at NBC Charlotte.

What to expect from the show.

  • Martin Truex Jr. flashed his championship form from last year and earned his first win of the 2018 season Sunday in Fontana. We’ll recap the last race of NASCAR Goes West from around the “Big Oak Table” at our NBC Sports studios in Charlotte. Plus, Rut and the gang will hand out the West Coast awards, honoring the best moments from the Vegas-Phoenix-Fontana run.
  • NASCAR is a sport built on families, and it’s seen lots of kids grow up at the track through the years. We’ll spend time discussing the next generation to catch the racing bug – including Harrison Burton, son of our Jeff Burton.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you also can 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.

Landon Cassill gets Cup ride for Martinsville, Texas

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Landon Cassill will drive the No. 00 for StarCom Racing in the next two races, Martinsville and Texas, the team announced Monday.

Cassill replaces Jeffrey Earnhardt. StarCom Racing and Earnhardt parted ways after Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway.

Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway will mark Cassill’s first Cup race of the year. The 28-year-old has 259 career Cup starts and a career-best finish of fourth at Talladega in October 2014. He drove for Front Row Motorsports the past two seasons but was not retained after last year.

Cassill’s sponsor the next two races will be the United States First Responders Association, a non-profit, professional and social network of fire, EMS, rescue, law enforcement and military personnel, as well as civilian support teams.

StarCom Racing was privileged to acquire a new partnership with USFRA and Landon Cassill behind the wheel,” said Derrike Cope, team manager, in a statement. “I’m optimistic that his knowledge and experience will only help our efforts as well as the growth of our team.”

Said Cassill in a statement: “I love working with new teams. I feel like that is one of my strengths. StarCom Racing looks like they are in it for the long haul, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.” 

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Hendrick Motorsports withdraws appeal of Phoenix penalties against No. 9 team

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Hendrick Motorsports has withdrawn its appeal of penalties against Chase Elliott‘s N0. 9 team from last weekend’s race in Phoenix, NBC Sports confirmed.

NASCAR found a L1 infraction on Elliott’s car in the rear-suspension after the race at ISM Raceway.

NASCAR stated that the team’s truck trailing arm spacer/pinion angle shim mounting surfaces must be planar and in complete contact with corresponding mating surfaces at all points and at all times.

NASCAR fined crew chief Alan Gustafson $50,000, suspended car chief Josh Kirk two races and docked Elliott 25 points and the team 25 owner points. Elliott’s third-place finish in the race will not count toward any tiebreakers.

Following Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway, where Elliott finished 16th, he is 21st in the point standings.

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