Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Logano resurfacing with pole

LONG POND, Pa. — It's a new era at Pocono, and Joey Logano and the rest of the Sprint Cup field posted the speeds to prove it.

Thanks to a repave that led to blistering speeds, Pocono Raceway's track record was topped 36 times, and Logano had the fastest speed of them all.

Logano turned a lap of 179.598 mph Saturday to set the track record during qualifying for today's Pocono 400. Logano won his first pole of the season and fourth in 125 career Cup starts. He drove the No. 20 Toyota around the 2½-mile track in 50.112 seconds.

"It's cool to get a pole here," Logano said. "A new track record, too."

Logano went 18th out of 44 cars and waited for about 45 minutes until the final qualifying lap was turned so he could celebrate. Kasey Kahne held the record of 172.533 mph set on June 11, 2004. Consider this: Kahne starts 10th today and went 177.823 mph.

Carl Edwards joins Logano on the front row, and Paul Menard, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin round out the top five.

The pole continues a recent uptick of solid results for Logano, who is 16th in the points standings. Only 22, he is in a make-or-break season at Joe Gibbs Racing in the final year of a four-year deal. He has insisted in the past that his contract status has not added pressure on him. Considered a phenom when he broke into NASCAR, Logano's lone Cup win came in 2009.

He has fared much better on the second-tier Nationwide series. On that circuit Logano has 13 career wins, four this season, including last week at Dover International Speedway.

"Every time we've been in position to win a race, we've won that race," Logano said.

Logano finished a season-high eighth in the Cup race at Dover and has two top 10s in his past three starts. It could be a sign that things are finally falling into place in his first season with crew chief Jason Ratcliff.

"I think Jason and I are starting to get stuff figured out," Logano said.

Safer: Once the track's harshest critic, points leader Greg Biffle is raving about Pocono.

Biffle famously complained two years ago "they're going to kill somebody there."

Officials heard him, and the facility completed a multi­million-dollar project in 2010 that made safety upgrades, including a soft-wall barrier and catch fence. The track was repaved this year for the first time since 1995.

Now Biffle says the "excitement" is back at Pocono, and he described the surface as "glass smooth at 200 mph."

Shorter: For years, drivers called the 500-mile race tedious.

Pocono Raceway CEO Brandon Igdalsky said it was a mutual decision among the track, NASCAR and TV partners to slice the race to 400 miles.

Pocono founder Joseph "Doc" Mattioli was long a defender of the supersized race. But Mattioli, who died in January, eventually agreed and both Pocono Cup races are 400 miles.

"Five hundred miles here just for some reason just seems to get drug-out and drawn-out," defending Cup champion Tony Stewart said. "I think you're still going to have the same quality of racing, just you don't have to wait that extra hour for that exciting conclusion."

Camping out: NASCAR wanted teams at Pocono on Wednesday and Thursday to test on the surface, and that caused grumbling. Teams rarely are at one track for five days.

"I'd be more concerned about my team if we were in (Las) Vegas for five days more than Pocono," Matt Kenseth said. "I don't know what they're going to do here. Hike themselves to death?"

. fast facts

Sprint Cup points

Through 13 of 36 races. The top 10 drivers plus two wild cards (based on wins) after 26 races make the Chase for the Championship.

Driver Pts. Back

Greg Biffle 486—

Matt Kenseth 485 1

D. Earnhardt Jr. 476 10

Denny Hamlin 464 22

Jimmie Johnson 453 33

Martin Truex 441 45

Kevin Harvick 440 46

Tony Stewart 407 79

Kyle Busch 406 80

Clint Bowyer 405 81

Former Rays pitcher Danny Farquhar “progressing well’ after surgery

Former Rays pitcher Danny Farquhar “progressing well’ after surgery

As former teammates with the Rays and throughout baseball share thoughts and prayers, RHP Danny Farquhar is "progressing well" in a Chicago hospital after suffering a hemorrhage caused by a brain aneurysm on Friday.The White Sox on Monday released th...
Updated: 3 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 23

Monday’s scoreboardBaseballCanterbury 10, Citrus Park Christian 0Northeast 12, Countryside 5
Updated: 3 hours ago

Tuesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBaseballTwins at Yankees6:30 p.m.MLB; 1040-AMRays at Orioles7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMMarlins at Dodgers10 p.m.FSFCollege baseballCoastal Carolina at North Carolina6 p.m.ESPNUMississippi at Mississippi State7 p.m.SECCreighton at Nebraska7:30 p.m.Big ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison have ex-Ray vision. Here’s what they see.

Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison have ex-Ray vision. Here’s what they see.

ST. PETERSBURG — Absolutely, Alex Cobb was saying over the phone, it's going to be weird pitching Tuesday against the Rays.The organization that he owes so much for rearing him since high school, standing by him through assorted injuries, enabl...
Updated: 4 hours ago
The key to the Lightning’s success

The key to the Lightning’s success

This is quite the run the Lightning is on over the past five years.A playoff appearance in 2014. A trip to the Stanley Cup final in 2015. A return to the Eastern Conference final in 2016. A near-miss of the postseason last season. And now back in the...
Updated: 6 hours ago
HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Brooke Blankenship and Luca Tresh

HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Brooke Blankenship and Luca Tresh

Brooke Blankenship, Academy at the LakesAcademy at the Lakes knew it would be difficult to manufacture runs during last week's anticipated matchup with Land O'Lakes and Gators ace Callie Turner.So the Wildcats decided to steal a run.This wasn't any h...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Shaquem Griffin on TODAY show: ‘I’m not limited to nothing’

Shaquem Griffin on TODAY show: ‘I’m not limited to nothing’

Shaquem Griffin's ability to play football without a left hand has made him the talk of the NFL draft. But the former Lakewood High and UCF star is determined to silence such talk with his play."It gets tiring," Griffin said today...
Updated: 10 hours ago
HomeTeam 25: Softball rankings for Tampa Bay

HomeTeam 25: Softball rankings for Tampa Bay

1. Sunlake (22-1)Up next: Wednesday vs. Clearwater-Northeast winner (7A-10 semifinals)The buzz: The Seahawks beat Anclote, Gulf and Zephyrhills last week to extend their win streak to 16, currently the longest in the area. Sunlake has been dominant, ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Polly want a sacker: Bucs’ 4th-round draft pick to be delivered by parrot

Polly want a sacker: Bucs’ 4th-round draft pick to be delivered by parrot

Late-round NFL draft picks are often made on a wing and a prayer.The Bucs' fourth-round pick Saturday will be no different. The team announced Monday that as part of the NFL draft TV broadcast, the team's fourth-round pick will be delivered to an ann...
Published: 04/23/18
Projecting where USF’s prospects will get drafted

Projecting where USF’s prospects will get drafted

For all the analyses and hypotheses, all the Mels and McShays, all the pro days and private workouts, the NFL draft remains a crap shoot at its core.But just for kicks, we're rolling the dice anyway.As a prelude to what could — could — be...
Published: 04/23/18