AVONDALE, Ariz. — The driver who won only once in the first 32 races this season says he’ll be the one to beat for the championship next weekend in Miami.
“When the playoffs started, I kind of felt like we were an underdog of making it and honestly the last six or seven weeks we’ve led a lot more laps, we’ve won a lot of stages, won a race, was fast at Kansas, was fast at Texas, you know what, I think we’re the favorite now to win,’ “ Joey Logano said this week.
“And I think it’s so crazy to think that it can change that quick, but we are the one team that has been able to say we’re locked in the last couple of weeks. I can promise you, I haven’t watched any Phoenix tape when I flew out here. I was focused on one race.”
Chase Elliott isn’t impressed with Logano’s assertion, saying: “I don’t really care what he thinks.”
Martin Truex Jr. said of Logano’s claim: “Good for him. I don’t think that’s the case.”
Kyle Busch said of Logano’s comment: “He can be the favorite if he wants to.”
Logano has scored more points than any driver in the playoffs at 342. Next is Truex at 301.
Logano also has recorded six consecutive top-10 finishes and led more than 40 percent of the laps the past three races. He is the only driver locked into the championship race after NASCAR’s penalty this week stripped Kevin Harvick’s berth to Miami with his Texas win.
Harvick now holds the final transfer spot heading into Sunday’s race (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC). He has a three-point lead on Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch.
Logano says that Harvick could face a challenge without crew chief Rodney Childers, who has been suspended for the next two races and went to Twitter on Friday to share his side of the matter.
“I think there can be a hiccup in communication,” Logano said of Harvick being without his crew chief and car chief, who also was suspended with the Texas penalty. “You guys know how it is when you know somebody for a very long time you can almost look at them and know what they’re thinking or hear in their tone maybe during the race and that’s not really going to be there.
“Obviously, they’ll be in communication with Rodney, but it’s not going to be very quick by the time it goes one way or the other and you know the way things get lost in translation sometimes on the phone compared to being face-to-face. You’re going to have those situations, and it’s for the next two races. I’d say it’s a big hit for them, but I’d also feel like that car is going to make it through as fast as they are and going to their best race track.”
Even so, Logano suggests this is the year he scores his first Cup title.