FORT WORTH, Texas — Even though he has scored only one top-five finish in the first eight playoff races, Joey Logano is on the cusp of returning to Miami to defend his Cup championship.
Logano’s fourth-place finish Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, along with woes to other playoff contenders, has him holding the final transfer spot by 20 points on Denny Hamlin and 23 points ahead of Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson.
Logano is two points behind Kyle Busch. So if either Hamlin, Blaney, Larson or Chase Elliott, who is last among the eight remaining playoff contenders, wins next weekend at ISM Raceway, Logano could be battling Busch for the final championship spot.
“It’s going to be fun,” Logano said. “I’m looking forward to the battle. The 18 team is good. Kyle is a good driver, but I think we’re a great team. They’re beatable just like everybody else.”
Logano has been beatable this year but with the playoffs broken into three-race rounds, he’s survived to be within one race of returning to the championship round for a second consecutive year.
“We’ve had more blue-collar days than you can imagine throughout these playoffs,” Logano said Sunday after his best finish since placing second in the regular-season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “The stage points is what got us from round to round so far. Today we finally got the finish that we deserved. We’ve been working hard and getting all these points we can and that’s what is keeping us alive.”
Only Martin Truex Jr. has scored more stage points in the playoffs than Logano. Truex has 90 stage points. Logano has 77 stage points, including six Sunday.
Logano also was happy to get a top-five result.
“It feels good to finally get one,” he said. “It’s not a win. We’re not locked in (the title race) like (Kevin Harvick) and (Truex) but we’re not out either.
“We’ve just got to go to Phoenix and do the same things we’ve been doing. We’ve got to score stage points and get a great finish. Off we go.”