Joey Logano tries to see ‘the bigger picture’ with Penske poise

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For the second time in three races, Joey Logano saw Kevin Harvick in his rear-view mirror as he took the checkered flag.

Logano thought the first time, his first Sprint Cup road-course win at Watkins Glen International, was “really, really cool” to have on his resume. But Saturday’s win under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway is difficult for Logano to rank among his 11 Sprint Cup wins.

It wasn’t the Daytona 500 and didn’t involve taking advantage of fuel strategy. But he fended off constant attacks from Harvick, the defending series champion, while leading the final 64 laps around the half-mile track.

“It’s cool to be racing one of the best out there and being able to hold him off and race each other hard and obviously not make mistakes,” Logano said. “He didn’t make mistakes and I didn’t make a mistake today, either. It was fun to race like that. Where it ranks, I don’t know.”

Bristol is now the second track the 25-year-old driver has won multiple Sprint Cup races at after winning the night race in 2014.

“It’s just such a driver’s racetrack,” said Logano, who also led all 300 laps of the spring Xfinity Series race there. “You never get a break. So Bristol you start the race and say, ‘this is going to be a long one.’ You know it’s going to be a tough, grueling race, but it puts on a great race, and I enjoy coming here. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. But I don’t know where it stacks up. But it went well. I guess it stacks up there somewhere.”

The other track Logano has multiple wins at is New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he won his first-career race in 2009. He didn’t win there again until 2014, a season in which he won five times.

Before he joined Team Penske in 2013, Logano had two wins in his five seasons at Joe Gibbs Racing. He had three before 2014. Twenty-four races into the 2015 season, Logano has 11-career wins and is the only driver not named Harvick that kept pace with Joe Gibbs Racing as it reeled off six wins over the last two months.

“Obviously JGR is a great team,” Logano said.  “They’re kicking butt out there right now.  I’ve been fortunate to drive for two great race teams.  The difference now is that I’m ready to go racing and race for championships.  Back then I wasn’t.  You know, but I definitely learned a lot.  I wouldn’t trade those years for a million bucks.”

Lognao also wouldn’t trade the direction he’s received from team owner Roger Penske since he hired him at 23, a driver who hadn’t fulfilled expectations since he arrived in the Cup series at 18.

“I think my dad always told me you are who you hang out with, and if you’re hanging out with people like Roger Penske and Team Penske, that’s a lot of poise,” Logano said. “I try not to get fired up inside the racecar. A lot of times I don’t because I see the bigger picture. I just want to get through it, we’ll be fine.”

Logano would be fine after an early miscue on pit road, eventually leading a season-high 176 laps at a track known for drivers losing their poise and tossing helmets.

“As a driver you’re one of the leaders, and you have the power to destroy a race team or build a race team, you know, and I think I understand that, and I think that’s something that’s helped us a lot.”

It’s continued to give him poise as he prepares for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. But Chase or not, Logano doesn’t care if he’s looking at Harvick or his former team in his rear-view mirror.

“I don’t care who the heck I’m racing, I’ll tell you that right now. There’s 42 other drivers out there that are really, really good, and a lot of them are capable of winning a race,” Logano said. “It’s all about the win, and I don’t care if I had to beat my sister to win the race.”

AJ Allmendinger to return to NASCAR Cup Series in 2023

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AJ Allmendinger is getting another shot at success in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Kaulig Racing announced Wednesday that Allmendinger, currently chasing the Xfinity Series championship, will drive full-time in Kaulig entries in the Cup Series next season.

Allmendinger raced in Cup from 2007 to 2018 but won only one time — at Watkins Glen International — across those years. He moved to the Xfinity Series part-time with Kaulig in 2019, winning on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. He won twice in 2020 and five times in 2021 and is a favorite to win the Xfinity championship this year. He has won four Xfinity races this season, including last Sunday at Talladega.

MORE: Hailie Deegan to make Xfinity debut at Las Vegas

Allmendinger, 40, will drive Kaulig’s No. 16 car in Cup next year. Justin Haley will drive the team’s No. 31.

Chandler Smith will replace Allmendinger in the Xfinity Series next year.

“It’s crazy how the last five years of my life have gone,” Allmendinger said. “More than anything, I love this organization. I know the fans get tired of me talking about all the men and women of Kaulig Racing. This is not a race team. This is a huge family.

“There will be tough times and growing pains, for sure. But I love what they’re about, and they believe in me. I’ll be OK whether it’s good or bad.”

MORE: Chase Elliott atop NASCAR Power Rankings

Team owner Matt Kaulig said Allmendinger is “one of the best in the world at every type of track. He’s done so much for Kaulig Racing and our program. He’s a gigantic part of what we’re building.”

Team officials said Allmendinger has a multi-year contract.

 

 

 

 

 

NASCAR viewer’s guide for Charlotte Roval

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Sunday provides a final chance for drivers to advance to the Round of 8 and keep their Cup championship hopes alive.

Talladega winner Chase Elliott is the only driver who has advanced to the next round. That leaves seven spots available going into Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Chase Briscoe holds the final transfer spot by a tiebreaker over Austin Cindric. At least for now.

William Byron is 11 points behind both drivers, but Hendrick Motorsports will appeal Byron’s 25-point penalty from Texas on Thursday. Should Hendrick win and Byron get those points back, he would move into a transfer spot.

There’s just part of what to watch for in Sunday’s race.

Favorites to be No. 20

This season remains tied for the most different winners in series history at 19, but there are a few candidates who could become the 20th different winner this year on Sunday.

Among the favorites to do so:

Ryan Blaney, who came close to winning last week at Talladega, won the inaugural Cup race at the Roval in 2018.

Martin Truex Jr., who has four career Cup wins on road courses, still seeks his first victory of the season.

Michael McDowell, who is coming off a third-place finish at Talladega, has had a career-high 12 top-10 finishes this season, including top 10s in each of the last four road course events this year.

Will history repeat?

Last year, the four drivers eliminated after the Roval were Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell and William Byron.

Harvick was eliminated in the first round this year, but Byron (-11 to the cutline) and Bell (-33) are in jeopardy of being eliminated in this round again. Bowman stated Tuesday that he will miss his second consecutive race because of continued concussion symptoms. He will be among the four eliminated from title contention.

Bowman missed last weekend’s race because of concussion-like symptoms suffered at Texas. A decision on if he’ll be able to race at the Roval will come later this week.

Will chaos continue?

Consider what some of the former Roval winners have endured on their way to the checkered flag:

In 2019, Chase Elliott drove into the Turn 1 wall on a restart while the leader. He recovered to win.

In 2020, Elliott overcame a loose wheel to win for the second year in a row.

In 2021, Kyle Larson won after his team changed batteries and put the alternator belt back on.

Could a similar fate be in store for this year’s winner? Or will they have a cleaner day?

Entry lists

Thirty-nine drivers are entered including IndyCar driver Conor Daly, former Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat, former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller and former 24 Hours of Daytona winner Joey Hand. JJ Yeley will drive the No. 51 for Cody Ware, who stated that he would skip this event because of his ankle injury at Texas the footwork needed on a road course.

Charlotte Roval Cup entry list

The Xfinity entry list includes 41 drivers for 38 spots. Among those joining the series regulars are IndyCar driver Marco Andretti and former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat.

Charlotte Roval Xfinity entry list

This week’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Saturday, Oct. 8

Forecast: Partly cloudy with a high of 66 degrees. No chance of rain during the Xfinity race.

  • 10 – 10:30 a.m. — Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)
  • 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying (NBC Sports App)
  • 12 – 1 p.m. — Cup practice (NBC Sports App, USA Network coverage begins at 12:30 p.m.)
  • 1 – 2 p.m. — Cup qualifying (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
  • 3 p.m. — Xfinity race (67 laps, 155.44 miles; NBC, Peacock, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 9

Forecast: Sunny with a high of 64 degrees. No chance of rain during the race.

  • 2 p.m. — Cup race (109 laps, 252.88 miles; NBC, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

Hailie Deegan to make Xfinity debut at Las Vegas

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Hailie Deegan announced Tuesday that she will make her Xfinity Series debut Oct. 15 Las Vegas Motor Speedway on NBC and Peacock.

The 21-year-old Deegan is in her second full-time season in the Camping World Truck Series. She finished a career-high sixth in that series last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

She will drive the No. 07 car for SS Green Light Racing with Jeff Lefcourt.

 

 

Alex Bowman to miss Charlotte Roval race

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Alex Bowman announced Tuesday night on social media that he will sit out this weekend’s Cup playoff race at the Charlotte Roval.

Bowman said on social media: “I am continuing to make strides in my recovery to make sure I can return to competition at 100%.”

This will be the second consecutive race he will have missed because of concussion-like symptoms after his crash at Texas Motor Speedway.

Noah Gragson will drive the No. 48 car this weekend for Bowman.

“Alex’s health is our first priority,” said Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports, in a statement. “We’re focused on supporting his recovery and seeing him back in his race car when the time is right. Alex has a long career ahead of him, so we will invest the necessary time and take our guidance from medical experts. We’re putting no pressure on him to return before he’s 100% ready.”

Bowman will be one of the four drivers eliminated from title contention Sunday.

Also Tuesday, Cody Ware announced that he will sit out this weekend’s Cup race at the Charlotte Roval, as he continues to recover from the ankle injury he suffered at Texas.