Is Logano this 12 months’s playoffs darkish horse?
Joey Logano ended the common season with out a lot to jot down dwelling about, however he’s going into the playoffs as assured as may be.
Logano and the No. 22 Crew Penske workforce completed twenty second or worse within the final 5 races. Logano earned simply two top-10 finishes within the earlier eight races and went from sitting contained in the top-five within the total level standings to finish the common season eighth in factors.
“Has it been a tough 5 weeks or six weeks? Yeah, you’re proper,” Logano mentioned. “However the velocity is there, and so to me, having that velocity means greater than lucking into top-fives or having a Fifteenth-place automotive and also you had good technique and a few good restarts and completed third. OK, that’s good, however that doesn’t final lengthy.
“I really feel like we’ve been high 5 each a type of races these days with quite a lot of velocity — 550s, 750s, highway programs. We’ve been a constant top-five automotive speed-wise. So, I consider that. Our pit crew has carried out very well. I really feel like we’re in championship kind though the stats don’t present that; I really feel as assured as I’d if we got here into this with 5 straight top-fives and some wins.”
Logano’s solely win got here on the grime at Bristol Motor Speedway. Logano led 324 laps within the first half of the common season. However within the second half, Logano led 85 laps.
Two crashes within the current weeks, Indianapolis and Michigan, resulted in DNFs. However Logano was working inside the highest 10 at Indy, Michigan, and Daytona earlier than hassle occurred. Logano was one of many drivers concerned within the curb chaos at Indy, was spun by Martin Truex Jr. at Michigan, and lower a tire at Daytona. Logano led a race-high 37 laps within the finale at Daytona.
“I really feel simply as assured as a result of it’s actually what we really feel — that’s what momentum and confidence are,” Logano mentioned. “It’s not what anybody else thinks. It’s a must to consider in your self and in your workforce first, and I really feel pretty much as good as I’ve ever felt going into the playoffs. Possibly with slightly bit much less stats due to what’s occurred the final 5 or 6 weeks; some not of our doing, some is. However the velocity is there.”
Logano begins the postseason at Darlington (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET, NBCSN) seeded ninth with 2013 factors.
Of the three tracks within the first spherical, Logano has a number of wins at Richmond and Bristol. He has a number of wins at Las Vegas and Talladega within the Spherical of 12. The identical goes for Kansas within the Spherical of 8, the place Logano is the defending race winner, whereas he has one win at each Texas and Martinsville in that spherical. The championship race location, Phoenix, is the place Logano has gained twice earlier than.
For pretty much as good as Logano feels, nonetheless, the favorites come from Hendrick Motorsports. There are some like certainly one of Logano’s teammates, Brad Keselowski, believes Rick Hendrick may probably have three if not all 4 of his drivers within the championship race. Logano isn’t letting that hype get to him.
“I don’t really feel like that in any respect,” he mentioned. “There’s been loads of occasions the place the quickest automobiles don’t make it there. In all probability instance A is [Kevin Harvick] final 12 months — gained a bunch of races and didn’t make the Championship 4. So, in my view, going into these playoffs, boy, you bought so many issues coming your method, whether or not your automotive is quick or not.
“We’ve seen the actually quick automobiles make it and win; we’ve additionally seen them not make it. We’ve seen automobiles that have been thought-about underdogs make it and win, and the whole lot in between. So, I really feel prefer it’s 10 weeks of a little bit of an unknown. We’ve all fought all 12 months to gather the playoff factors that we’ve and the benefit that some have (or) don’t have, and people are all deserved.
“The playoffs simply have a method of adjusting the panorama of sports activities. Interval. Any sport. If you add that stress, some rise to the event and a few crumble, and that’s the perfect half about playoffs in any sort of sport.”
In his profession, Logano has gained 10 playoff races. That’s second-most (to Kevin Harvick’s 16) of all drivers on this 12 months’s postseason.