Thursday, November 23, 2017
Sports

Logano aims to make up for lost Sprint Cup spots at Pocono

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Time is beginning to run thin for Joey Logano and his NASCAR Sprint Cup team.

The 23-year-old driver of the No. 22 Ford is 18th in the standings with six races until the Chase for the Championship. The top 12 drivers qualify for the 10-race playoffs.

Logano needs to make up about six points per race on 10th-place Jeff Gordon to have a chance at the Chase. He can get started this Sunday at the GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway, a track that has been kind to Logano in recent years.

"We're not to the point that we're going to take a big gamble and go for a win, and if it doesn't work out, we're going to finish 25th," Logano said this week. "We can't quite do that yet, but we're really, really close."

Logano won at Pocono in June 2012, becoming the youngest driver to win at the 2.5-mile oval. He captured the pole, set the track qualifying record and got his first victory since 2009. The former prodigy who made his NASCAR debut at 18 also won the pole at Pocono in 2011.

Logano said he hopes for a dry track this weekend. He feels that changes made to cars will be the most significant difference.

"If you race what you raced your last time, you're behind the times, and you're not probably going to be as good as you were," said Logano, who was 10th at the season's first Pocono race in June. "So you've always got to be looking ahead and trying to find a little bit more."

Logano's nine top-10 finishes are tied for the most of any driver outside the top 10 in points. Back-to-back 40th-place finishes July 6 at Daytona and July 14 at New Hampshire set him back. Logano was 10th in points before those races.

Logano said though there is a sense of urgency, he and his team are still confident.

"We're going to have bad races. That's part of racing. That's part of anything. That's part of life," he said. "But you've got to learn from the mistakes and move on."

Johnson on pole: Jimmie Johnson needed multiple tries to pass inspection, then set a track record with a lap of 180.654 mph to earn the pole for Sunday's race. Johnson went 29th instead of his scheduled 24th spot, and the later start under the clouds as the track got faster might have given him an advantage. At least that was what Kyle Busch figured. "A lot of these other teams figure out how to play by the rules," said Busch, who starts second. "It seems like there's one that's sometimes late. Quite often, more than the rest."

NHRA: Rain wiped out the first day of qualifying at the Northwest Nationals in Seattle.

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