Tough Pocono race adds pressure in Joey Logano’s bid to make playoffs


Joey Logano, who has made it to the championship race in two of the last three years, likely needs to win one of the next five races to avoid missing the Cup playoffs.

Logano’s victory at Richmond in April doesn’t count toward playoff eligibility because his car failed post-race inspection. He is 69 points out of what would be the final playoff spot heading into this weekend’s race at Watkins Glen International on NBCSN.

Logano’s 27th-place finish Sunday at Pocono Raceway marked the third time he’s placed 25th or worse in the last five races.

Even with those struggles, crew chief Todd Gordon told “The Morning Drive” on Monday he sees tracks that Logano can win at to ensure a playoff spot.

“We finished first and second the last two years at Watkins Glen,’’ Gordon said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We get to go to Michigan after that, which we’ve won twice, been a really strong track for us. Bristol, we won the night race twice. I think Bristol night race is a better race for us than the Bristol spring race. Look forward to that. We won Richmond in the spring. Let’s not leave that one out.

“I don’t think you’ve got to swing for the fences. I think you’ve got to put yourself in the right positions, but you can’t do stupid things and try to get there. We’ve got to find a little more speed in the race cars and that’s something that has been a consistent need for us. I think we’ve found some but I don’t think we’ve found enough, and we’ve got to continue to work forward on that and put ourselves in position.

“Unfortunately with the weekend we had, yes, it does put us further down in points and more in a position where we need to win, but I feel very strongly about the next five races and getting that done.’’

Logano is in that hole after a combination of woes Sunday at Pocono.

A lug nut got stuck in the air gun on an early stop, costing Logano track position.

“It buried us on track position,’’ Gordon told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Pocono, once you get buried back in traffic, it’s tough if you don’t have astronomical speed like a couple of cars did to get yourself back out of it.’’

Logano was penalized for speeding on pit road on Lap 124. When he came to serve the penalty, he stopped in his box and his crew serviced the car, leading to another penalty. Section of the Cup Rule Book states that “the vehicle must enter pit road and drive the entire length of pit road without stopping.’’

Gordon explained the penalty: “A combination of coming back to pit road to serve the pit road speeding penalty on low tire pressures, the car lands on the splitter and then we locked up a tire, and I didn’t want to ruin the run on a flat-spotted tire. Had to put another set of tires on. Kind of a day that we never got ourselves right back in position. Kind of missed it on the car setup to start with and we made a few mistakes, and we just didn’t have enough to recover from those mistakes.’’

 and on Facebook

NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin


NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Hamlin forced Elliott toward the wall. Elliott’s car slapped the wall. Elliott then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series results: Justin Allgaier wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier finally broke through for his first win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night.

Allgaier stretched his last fuel load over the final laps to finish in front of John Hunter Nemechek. Cole Custer was third, Austin Hill fourth and Ty Gibbs fifth. Gibbs ran both races Monday, completing 900 miles.

The win also was the first of the season for JR Motorsports.

Charlotte Xfinity results

Xfinity points after Charlotte

Justin Allgaier wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won a fuel-mileage gamble to win Monday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allgaier stretched his fuel to outlast second-place John Hunter Nemechek. Following in the top five were Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs.

The victory was Allgaier’s first of the year and the first of the season for JR Motorsports. He has 20 career wins.

MORE: Charlotte Xfinity results

After a long day at CMS, the race ended at 11:25 p.m. The race started Monday morning but was stopped twice because of weather before it was halted with 48 of 200 laps completed so that the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race could be run.

When the race was stopped, Gibbs, Nemechek and Allgaier were in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first two stages.

Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs

Stage 2 winner: Ty Gibbs

Who had a good race: Justin Allgaier has had good cars in previous races but finally cashed in with a win Monday. He led 83 laps. … John Hunter Nemechek, in second, scored his fifth top-two run of the season. … Cole Custer scored his sixth straight top-10 finish. … Ty Gibbs lasted 900 miles for the day and led 52 laps in the Xfinity race.

Who had a bad race: Sam Mayer was running 10th when he spun off Turn 2. He finished 35th. … Sheldon Creed finished three laps down in 28th.

Next: The series moves on to Portland International Raceway in Oregon for a 4:30 p.m. ET race June 3.