After going to Victory Lane at Richmond Raceway on April 30, 2017 took a turn for the worse for Joey Logano.
NASCAR deemed that the No. 22 car was illegal for competition, taking away Logano’s victory that would qualify him for the playoffs. In the 12 races since, the Connecticut native has eight finishes outside the top 20, including three DNFs.
Logano came into the season with high hopes, after making it to the championship round in two of the past three seasons. However, with an average finish of 22nd, the No. 22 team is getting close to a “must-win” scenario, sitting 18th on the playoff grid, 69 markers behind Matt Kenseth, who is sits on the cut line.
“Closer to it,” Logano said on if he’s in a must-win situation. “I am not sure we are at a must-win yet. I feel like this is one of our best shots to go out here and win this weekend. We also have some great race tracks coming up. Bristol [Motor Speedway], Darlington [Raceway] has been a good track for us. Richmond as well. We have some good tracks coming up for us. We have won at the next four out of five races that are coming up, so we know we can do it. We just have to do it.”
During the summer months, Logano had a streak of five consecutive races finishing outside the top 20, beginning at Talladega Superspeedway and ending at Pocono Raceway. Last weekend at the Tricky Triangle, the No. 22 team was in position to score a top-10 finish before speeding on pit road, just to service the car, which resulted in another pass thru penalty. It resulted in a 27th-place effort.
Since the encumbered victory at Richmond, Logano has a pair of top-five finishes coming at two of his best racetracks (Michigan International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway). In seven of the races, he has finished at least one lap off the pace.
Though it’s been a tough couple months for Logano, he plans still respect everybody on the track.
“Our goal is still the same,” Logano said. “Our goal is to win the race no matter what. I am not going to race someone different because of their situation or my situation. I will understand what their situation is. I will understand how desperate they are, but for us we have to stay focused in on our car as much as anybody else’s”
In the five race stretch until the playoffs kickoff at Chicagoland Speedway, Logano has a combined seven victories, with two each at Michigan, Bristol and Richmond. His average finish at those tracks is 12.6.
At Watkins Glen International, Logano has a pair of top-two finishes over the past two seasons, winning in 2015.