Joey Logano comes close, but falls one spot short of playoffs (video)

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Joey Logano came into Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway facing long odds. He knew it, his opponents knew it, and fans knew it.

The only way Logano could make it into the 16-driver playoffs was ending up in victory lane. Win and he’s in. The task was pretty simple.

Still, Logano has prided himself throughout his NASCAR career of being a driver who thrives on pressure-packed situations.

And Saturday was one of the most pressure-packed situations Logano has faced in his NASCAR Cup career.

He gave it everything he had but in the end, finished one spot short of making the playoffs. Logano needed a win, but could do no better than a runner-up showing to race winner Kyle Larson.

“We just weren’t close enough to the lead to capitalize,” Logano told NBCSN after the race. “We knew that second (place) wasn’t going to be worth anything and yet we finished second.

“I’m proud of the effort we gave all weekend. … Our championship season was on the line and we just came up one spot short. It stinks, it hurts, but it’s not the end of our season.”

Logano now faces the prospect that no matter what he does in the 10-race playoffs, the highest he’ll be able to finish the 2017 NASCAR Cup season will be 17th, his worst Cup showing since 17th in 2012.

That, after making the playoffs and finishing the previous four seasons eighth (2013), fourth (2014), sixth (2015) and second (2016).

Logano enters the playoffs ranked 19th in the Cup standings.

How could a driver who was runner-up in the NASCAR Cup playoffs last season, fall so far, so fast?

NBCSports.com’s Nate Ryan gave his take on Logano, including saying, “If you look at it in the last four months, it’s not a surprise. It was trending this way for a while, ever since he won that race at Richmond (in April) and then had that finish declared encumbered, the car was deemed illegal and the win didn’t count toward the playoffs.

“Ever since then, the team was just trending in the wrong direction until tonight. I give them credit for a yeoman’s effort tonight … they came up one spot short.”

Check out the NBCSN interview with Logano (above video) after Saturday night’s race.

 

NASCAR America: Erik Jones on why he doesn’t make friends with his competitors

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Back in April Erik Jones told reporters at Daytona International Speedway that when it comes to friends, he brings his to the track. He doesn’t get too close to his fellow drivers in the garage.

On NASCAR America, Jones talked with Steve Letarte and Dale Jarrett about the origins of that mindset.

“My dad was always big on it, because at first when I started out my racing career in go karts I just wasn’t that aggressive,” Jones said. “He was like, ‘we bring our friends to the race track. You need to go out there and get aggressive. If you’ve to move someone out-of-the-way, do it.'”

Since then, Jones said his philosophy “never changed.”

“We show up, it’s a late-model team, it’s me a three guys so it’s like, ‘I’ve got all my buddies I need right here,'” Jones said.

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR America: Erik Jones’ racing roots in Byron, Michigan

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After a feature looking at his upbringing in Byron, Michigan, Furniture Row Racing driver Erik Jones spoke with NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte, Dale Jarrett and Marty Snider about the early years of his racing career.

The journey to his NASCAR career began with a yard cart that his late father, Dave Jones, brought home one day when he was 3.

“I rode that all day long around the yard,” Jones said. “Winter time would and we had like a gravel circle driveway in front of our house. When it would snow over I would get the kart out and ride it around in the snow because I could slide and I thought that was pretty cool. I would get it stuck about every five minutes out in the snow.”

Jones would then get out of the kart and find his dad in their barn to come out get him out.

Now 21, Jones also discussed how much his dad was involved in his career until his death in June 2016 after a battle with cancer.

He also explains how he’s never stayed in any series for more than one year in his career.

Watch the video above for the full discussion.

NASCAR America: Scan All from Cup playoff opener at Chicagoland

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“I sure as (expletive) hope that’s all out of our system.”

That’s what Kyle Busch had to say over his radio after he finished 15th, a lap down in the Cup playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway.

Busch’s day went south after the first stage thanks to two pit miscues the sent him two laps down.

Meanwhile, Martin Truex Jr. dominate the field to win his fifth race of the year and advance to the second round of the playoffs.

In the latest “Scan All,” True and crew chief Cole Pearn recap their day, which saw them bounce back from their own pit road mistakes.

Here are other highlights from this week’s “Scan All.”

  • “Can’t drive in a straight line. Something’s not right with the front end.” – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. just before he made contact with the outside wall. A commitment line violation resulted in Stenhouse finish multiple laps off the lead.
  • “Tell the 1 (Jamie McMurray) I don’t know what happened there but we both got the short end of the stick.” – Ryan Newman after contact between him and McMurray sent McMurray spinning on a restart.
  • (Expletive), that 24 (Chase Elliott) can be so much (expletive) faster than us.” – Kasey Kahne after being told he was two laps down.

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR America: Erik Jones recounts rookie Cup season, being taught by Kyle Busch

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Erik Jones, the rookie driver for Furniture Row Racing in the No. 77 Toyota, joined NASCAR America Wednesday for a special show from the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The 21-year-old driver won the 2015 Camping World Truck Series title and is teammates with Martin Truex Jr.

With Marty Snider, Dale Jarrett and Steve Letarte, Jones discussed the challenges and lessons he’s faced in his first full-time season in the Cup Series.

“The biggest (milestones) for me were trying to win a race and making the playoffs,” Jones said. “Obviously, making the playoffs didn’t happen. … I look back at the last few seasons and rookies that have been in the sport and it’s so hard to win races now. You just don’t see rookies do it a lot.”

Jones also discussed finishing second to Kyle Busch in the Bristol night race and his relationship with the driver who brought him into NASCAR beginning with the Truck Series.

“A lot of times when I was racing in Trucks and Xfinity and Kyle would come to race I’d always run second to him,” Jones said. “I’m like, ‘you know what the problem is? This is the guy who taught me how to race these cars. So I’m good at all the same tracks he’s good at. Except he’s been doing about 10 more years than I have.”

Watch the video for more.