This Sunday’s race at Pocono may be circled on the calendar for several Chase hopefuls that need at least one victory to have a shot at snagging the wild card, and one of those is Joey Logano, who sits 17th in the points standings. Coincidentally, this is also Logano’s contract year, so if he were to make the Chase, that would certainly be in his favor, whether he re-signs with Gibbs, or goes elsewhere.
But for him to make the Chase as a wild-card, he’s going to need another victory. Kasey Kahne (two wins) and Kyle Busch (one win) currently hold the wild card spots. Logano’s problem is he sits 44 points behind Busch with just one victory at Pocono earlier this year. With just six races left in NASCAR’s regular season, he’s not likely to catch Busch on points alone, meaning he’ll need another trip to victory lane to secure his spot in the Chase.
With history on his side, Logano would love nothing more than to snag the win on Sunday. Since Pocono began hosting two races per season in 1982, there have been six drivers to complete the single season sweep. They are Bobby Allison in 1982, Bill Elliott in 1985, Tim Richmond in 1986, Bobby Labonte in 1999, Jimmie Johnson in 2004 and Denny Hamlin in 2006.
A repeat is not out of the question for Logano, even though his other official top finishes in six races at Pocono have been 11th and 13th. Logano is 22, and he’s certainly young enough to think there will be more chances for him to make the Chase should he not do it this season. But there has to be a first time for everything, and Logano’s best chance to make his first Chase may very well depend on whether or not he wins Sunday.
Top 5 Picks
Joey Logano – Hopefully, you just read about this. He needs that repeat.
Jeff Gordon – Much like Logano, he deseperately needs his first win of the season to have a shot at the Chase as he sits 24 points behind Busch. It helps that he has won five times at Pocono.
Denny Hamlin – He’s got four wins here, one of those slam dunk picks for the Tricky Triangle.
Jimmie Johnson – OK, he’s pretty much an every week pick at this point. He’s got two wins at Pocono, too.
Carl Edwards – He was set up to run fast at Indy last week, only to be slowed by engine woes. He’s won here twice before, and like Gordon, is in desperation mode to get his first win of the season. He sits 12th in points, six behind Busch, for that final Chase spot.
Shoulda, woulda, coulda – Brad Keselowski is one of the guys I wanted to pick here, but just ran out of choices. He ran well at Indy last week, which is often a good sign at Pocono. He also has a win at Pocono.
Here’s a look at how last week’s picks fared at Indianapolis.
Tony Stewart: 10th. He didn’t have a good day at all, but rallied for this finish.
Jimmie Johnson: 1st. He’s capable of winning any week anywhere. Looking like a future six-time champion.
Jeff Gordon: 5th. He was strong all day at Indy.
Kasey Kahne: 12th. Also did not have a good day, but rallied late for respectable finish.
Kevin Harvick: 13th. After a miserable day, where he was mostly outside the top 15, and often somewhere in the 20s, he managed a decent finish.
36 Top 5s
48 Top 10s
Grade for the week: B-plus. Three of the top 10, including the winner. Someone else making the top five could’ve made this day a little better.
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