Joey Logano on slump: ‘As soon as we figure it out, we’re going to be really fast again’

Leave a comment

Joey Logano is deep in the dog days of his season, but the Team Penske driver is making the best of it on the final off weekend of 2017.

Helping promote a canine-oriented initiative for a sponsor, Logano seemed upbeat in a phone interview with NBCSports.com this week about his chances of qualifying for the Cup playoffs.

With two races remaining in the regular season, it’s win or else for Logano, who is 117 points behind the current cutoff for the last playoff spot awarded via the standings.

“I feel like we’ve got to go,” Logano told NBCSports.com. “Obviously, we don’t have an option at this point. It’s nice to have an off weekend, regroup, catch our breath and figure out how we’re going to attack these next couple of weeks. We have to win. We have to make it happen one way or another.

“We’ve been in this position before. We’ve been put in this position that we have to win multiple times the last few years during the playoffs and we’ve been able to do it. It’s no different than that. We’ve just got to be ready to execute when the opportunity strikes.”

The opportunities have been infrequent since Logano’s April 30 win at Richmond (which was declared ineligible for playoff consideration because of a postrace violation). In 15 races since, his No. 22 Ford has only two top fives (third at Michigan, fourth at Indianapolis) and is riding a skid of four straight finishes outside the top 10 entering the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway next week.

Echoing some of teammate Brad Keselowski’s assessment, Logano believes Toyotas have found an edge mostly via aerodynamics with the 2018 Camry introduced this year.

“They’ve gotten an advantage because of the hard work they’ve put in,” Logano said. “They were very strategic about their new bodies, and they’ve made some good decisions about the way they developed them, and it’s obviously a rocket ship currently on the racetrack. They did a good job, they are getting rewarded because of it.

“Now it’s up to us figure out how we catch up. So I’ve got to focus on what makes our cars go fast.

“We can’t hide the fact that they’re faster than us. That’s apparent. We know that. We talk about it. We can identify certain areas that we believe they’re better. But at a certain point, you just have to do the work. You have to figure it out.”

Logano said it’s possible a breakthrough could happen at Darlington or the regular-season finale Sept. 9 at Richmond, but whenever the team makes gains, he expects it to last.

“Believe me, there’s plenty of work going into it, but as soon as we figure it out, we’re going to be really fast again,” he said. “However that happens, I don’t know. I know this team will figure it out. Team Penske has been around for 50 years winning races. They’ve been through downturns before. This isn’t the first time (team owner) Roger (Penske) has seen this. That’s why he’s not panicking. At the same time, we want to get fast as quick as we can, because this isn’t the position we like to be in.

“I feel like our team is going to get back there, hopefully it’s in the next few races. If not, we’re going to get back there before the year is out. Hopefully, we’re in the playoffs when it happens. … You’ve got to stay confident in your abilities and stay confident in your race team and their abilities and make sure you stick together and don’t start pointing fingers here or there. It’s win as a team and lose as team. It’s a lot easier to say that when you’re winning, but it’s very true. You need to be able to stick together in these times, that’s the only way you dig out of it.”

The focus won’t be on racing this weekend for Logano, who is relaxing with his expectant wife, Brittany, and also celebrating Saturday’s National Dog Day (his sponsor, AutoTrader, is commemorating the occasion by raising awareness of pet adoption with dog smell air fresheners and a list of the best cars for dog lovers).

The Loganos’ French bulldog, Luigi, has traveled with the couple since last year and will remain on the road after they welcome a baby boy in January (the couple detailed their struggles with achieving pregnancy in a recent interview with NBCSN’s Krista Voda). “The whole family will be riding together,” Logano said with a laugh. “We’ll take our kid around with Luigi. It could be a lot at times, but we’re going to give it a shot.”

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

Leave a comment

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

Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Tyler Reddick wins playoff opener at Kentucky for first career Xfinity victory

Leave a comment

Tyler Reddick, a part-time driver for Chip Ganassi Racing, led 66 laps to win the Xfinity Series playoff opener at Kentucky Speedway.

In his rookie year in the series, Reddick earned the win in his 15th start in the No. 42 Chevrolet.

The 21-year-old driver beat teammate Brennan Poole, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Preece and Cole Custer.

“I don’t know if it was necessarily me making a statement, it’s just Chip Ganassi Racing making a statement,” Reddick told NBCSN. “(Crew chief) Mike Shiplett has brought me from ground zero all the way to here. All the guys at Ganassi have gone above and beyond in helping me become a better driver. To be here today is surreal.”

Reddick, who had not led a lap before Saturday night, took the lead for the first time on Lap 126 of the 200-lap race.

Reddick is the fourth Xfinity driver to get his first win this season.

Saturday’s win comes after it was announced on Sept. 14 that Reddick would join JR Motorsports full-time in 2018.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Cole Custer

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

MORE: Race results

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Justin Allgaier bounced back from losing a tire and going two laps down to finish third. He leaves Kentucky tied with Cole Custer at the top of the playoff standings. … Brennan Poole’s runner-up finish is a career-best result in 77 starts … Ryan Preece has finished in the top four in all three of his starts for Joe Gibbs Racing. … Ryan Reed finished 10th, ending an eight-race streak without a top 10.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Sam Hornish Jr. finished 31st, nine laps down after contact with Brandon Jones on Lap 53 caused him to hit the wall at the exit of Turn 2, forcing him to pit for repairs. … William Byron finished 18th, two laps down after he was forced to pit on Lap 101 for a loose wheel.

NOTABLE: Reddick is the seventh different driver to win in the last seven races this season. … Reddick is the seventh different winner in the last eight races at Kentucky.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I was about the color of my car (red) there for a little bit.” – Justin Allgaier after finishing third following a rebound from going two laps down early in the race.

NEXT: Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway at 3 p.m. ET on Sept. 30 on NBCSN.

Social Roundup: Sights from first Martinsville night race

Marty Snider
Leave a comment

The wait is over.

Night racing at Martinsville Speedway is now a reality.

After tests and practice sessions, the half-mile track in Virginia is hosting the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 and its qualifying races tonight for the NASCAR Late Model Series.

In attendance at the race are Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez, as well as NBCSN’s Marty Snider, who is watching his son Myatt compete in the race.

Here’s a look at some of the sights and sounds from the historic night for NASCAR’s oldest track.