First Posted: 8/1/2013
LONG POND — The drive-thru window is closing soon and the line is still quite long.
Joey Logano is among those trying to get there before it’s slammed shut.
Logano heads to Pocono Raceway this weekend as one of several drivers battling for a spot in the 12-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. The field for Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 will be set today in qualifying that starts at 3:10 p.m. Sunday’s race begins at 1 p.m.
There are six more races left until the Chase field is set. The top-10 drivers in points make the Chase along with the two drivers 11-20 in points with the most victories. (Ties for those two spots are broken via drivers points).
As is stands, seven slots appear to be locked up for the Chase barring unforeseen collapses. But the separation from eighth-place Greg Biffle to 19th-place Paul Menard is just 45 points.
Logano is 18th in points and just 35 back of Jeff Gordon, who holds the 10th spot. The driver of the No. 22 Ford isn’t about to gamble and go all-out for a victory knowing there is some wiggle room.
“No, no, I think we can do it in points,” said Logano, who is in his first year with owner Roger Penske after spending four seasons with owner Joe Gibbs. “We can break ourselves in the top 10. We did this already once coming from more than 35 points back and brought ourselves into the top 10 and in a shorter amount of time than we’ve got now.”
Logano needs to look no further than his recent races. He has gone from 10th in points to 18th in the last four races as consecutive 40th-place finishes at Daytona and Loudon proved costly. Prior to the swoon, he went from 18th to 10th in five races.
“The goal is to stay even keel. Easier said than done, though,” Logano said. “You know, obviously, yes, when you’re moving up through the points, it’s obviously when it’s the easiest. You get a lot of confidence. You get a lot of momentum, and everyone’s attitudes are great.
“You have two bad finishes, yes, it’s going to … it hurts. It takes some wind out of your sail for sure. But you have to find the silver lining, wherever it is, and look forward. The more you dwell on the stuff, it just hurts the team.”
Pocono Raceway could provide some momentum. Logano won from the pole there in June 2012, posting his second of two Cup victories in his five-year career. He led 49 of 160 laps, the most of any driver.
Of course, a silver lining means a dark cloud, something Logano doesn’t want to see today. Qualifying for the race this past June at Pocono was rained out and he had to start 21st based on owners points. He finished 10th.
Today’s forecast is for sunny skies with a high in the mid-70s and a 20-percent chance of rain.
“I think it would be a great opportunity, and I look at the first race we had in Pocono this year, we had a really good car,” Logano said. “Qualifying got rained out. So we had to start a little further to the back than we wanted to, and we fought all day to get our car to be good enough up front and get that track position, and I think we finished tenth.
“I felt like we were a lot better than that.”