Friday, September 8, 2017

Joey Logano is "all in" for the do-or-die challenge at Richmond

CREDIT: Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs

By Carol D’Agostino


It’s been 132 days since Joey Logano won at Richmond International Raceway -- a very long 132 days. Since the win, which was determined to be “encumbered” due to an L1-level penalty for a rear suspension violation, Logano’s No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford has lacked speed, clearly reflected in his dismal finishes: no wins and only three top 10s. In fact, his average finish since the spring Richmond race has been 21.7.

With his back against the wall, there's only one scenario for Logano to get to the NASCAR Monster Energy Series playoffs -- win tomorrow night’s Federated Auto Parts 400. He has big shoes to fill, as the last driver to sweep Richmond was Jimmie Johnson in 2007.

His mindset going into practice today was all about the win, and perhaps a little redemption.  

“We are in a do-or-die situation. Anytime you can win a race in that situation, there is no better feeling than that,” Logano said. “Returning here after our win in the spring and obviously the drama that followed, it would be very nice to be able to get back in Victory Lane and prove a point. I don’t see any reason why we can’t."

More than a few drivers will try to keep Logano out of Victory Lane though, specifically Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray and Clint Bowyer. If a new driver takes the win, Elliott, Kenseth and McMurray are in danger of missing the postseason. Elliott sits 14th on the playoff grid, two points ahead of Kenseth and three points ahead of McMurray.

Like Logano, Bowyer is in a must-win situation, and Richmond is one of Bowyer’s top tracks. In 23 starts at the 0.75-mile short track, he has two wins, four top fives and 12 top 10s, with a 12.9 average finish.

Although the win represents one of the greatest challenges in his career, Logano remains optimistic.

“Obviously this is one of the toughest spots we have been as a team," he said. "We haven’t had to fight to get into the playoffs in a long time. This is a challenging position, but the spirits of the team are strong. They are ready to fight and do whatever we have to do to get into Victory Lane. I am proud of that. This is a time that shows your true character."

Logano is focused on winning Saturday's race, and not thinking about April's encumbered win.

"It happened. That is in the past," he said. "We have to keep looking out the windshield. Roger (Penske) preaches that to us all the time. What has happened, has happened, and we can't change it. We have to keep looking forward."

The No. 22 is running a special Red Cross paint scheme this weekend to draw more attention to the needs of the people affected by Hurricane Harvey. 

“I am thankful for Shell for giving the car to the American Red Cross in this time of need," Logano said. "We saw what happened down in the Houston area and the devastation that is there, and also looking in the future in the next few days in Florida and what could possibly happen there. Obviously we need all hands on deck."

Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET and will broadcast on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

CREDIT: Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs






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