Can Joey Logano’s recent slide finally come to an end Sunday at Michigan?
Joey Logano has one Cup win in 2017, at Richmond on April 30.
If you thought that win clinched a spot for Logano in the upcoming 10-race NASCAR playoffs, you’d be wrong.
Logano’s win was encumbered due to a suspension violation found in inspection at the NASCAR R&D Center after Richmond. While the win still counted in the standings, it did not count toward playoff eligibility.
Compounding matters is Logano has not finished in the top 20 in each of the last five races. Since his win at Richmond, Logano has finished 32nd (Talladega), 37th (Kansas), 21st (Charlotte), 25th (Dover) and 23rd (Pocono).
Also during that time, the Team Penske driver has dropped from fifth to 11th in the Cup standings.
Just when Logano thinks he’s about ready to snap the streak, he has continued to extend it – mostly not of his own doing.
“It is not fun,” Logano said. “You have to keep life in perspective a lot of times with what you are doing out there.
“One of the funniest comments, maybe not the truth but, someone said, ‘We aren’t curing cancer out there, we are just trying to make circles really fast.’ It is something we can fix. This team is strong. We have been through this stuff before.”
But now Logano is back in friendly territory at Michigan International Speedway for the FireKeepers Casino 400 Cup race this weekend - a race he won last year.
Could Logano’s luck finally turn around at the 2-mile, high-speed oval?
“Yeah, of course,” he said. “Anytime you come to one of your best race tracks like here at Michigan, especially the way our last month-and-a-half has gone, it is a confidence builder for sure.”
This will be Logano’s 17th career Cup start at MIS. During that time, he’s earned two wins, four top-fives and 11 top 10s, as well as three poles.
And he was seventh in Friday’s qualifying session.
If there’s any place Logano can get another win and finally lock himself into the playoffs – provided it’s not another encumbered victory – is Sunday.
“It is on my mind,” Logano said of not being locked into the playoffs. “I would be lying if I said it wasn’t, but it isn’t something I am very concerned about.
“I feel like this team is strong enough to get through it. We just need to get through it, build momentum. The way these stages are, you can gain points pretty quick. We have proven we can lose them pretty quick.
“We have to be able to string three or four solid races together like we know how to. We have strung 15-20 great races together before. It is nothing this team hasn’t done before.”
Recording the third-fastest speed in Friday’s lone practice session behind Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch is a good start.
“To be able to unload today with decent speed, then switch to qualifying trim and find more that last run is definitely a nice turnaround for us,” he said. “We have been lacking a little speed but this seems like the best race track for us to turn this around.”
What has caused one of the worst streaks of misfortune and poor finishes in his career is still mystifying.
“We have about 15 areas we think,” Logano said. “A lot of it is process of elimination. I think there is a certain area we think we can get better but it takes a lot of time to fix that.
“It is not just a spring or wedge. Believe me, we have changed every spring we can change in these things. Over time we should be able to get back where we want to and already we are moving that way.
“We are balancing our cars better and trying to get to where we can get into the corner better. That seems to be our biggest lack right now, the entry of the corners. We are trying to fix that.
“It seems we’ve made a decent step this week. It seems like we are in a step in the right direction. We will keep working.”