Sunday Michigan Notebook

Joey Logano knows time is short to make the playoffs

BROOKLYN, Mich.- With three races left before the playoffs start, Joey Logano is on the outside looking in. His failure to qualify so far is arguably the biggest surprise of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season in terms of performance.

He admitted at Michigan International Speedway to feeling desperate, but he sees the closing stretch of regular-season races as really good for him, particularly Bristol and Richmond.

"Bristol is probably one of our best racetracks as well, especially in the fall race," said Logano, driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Fusion.

He has two career wins at Bristol in 17 starts. He also has two wins at Richmond. He won there in the spring, but a rules violation meant the win was declared encumbered, so it does not lock him into the playoffs. Darlington is the only weak spot in the group. His average finish there is 18.4, and he has just two top 5 finishes in eight starts.

"I don't look at that race track (Darlington) and say we don't have a chance," he said. "I feel like we'll still be fine there, it just might be a little bit different."

Logano is too far back to points-race his way in, so his team is likely to take aggressive chances to try to grab a win.

"Every moment becomes more and more important on the racetrack, and that's OK," he says. "That's where you find out what you're made of, so I'm all right with that."


Coming into this weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing's Daniel Suarez was on a streak of four consecutive top-10 finishes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and was looking to make it five. Unfortunately his day was cut short after tangling with Kasey Kahne late in the race.

Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS, was attempting to pass Daniel Suarez for position on Lap 139. But he pulled up before he cleared Suarez. The contact slammed Kahne's right side into the outside wall just past Turn 2 ending his day. He finished 38th.

"We had to fight from the back and had a good LIFTMASTER Chevrolet," Kahne said. "We kept working to get up there. Daniel (Suarez) was going backwards and I was going by and I ran the bottom. I expected we could be close off the corner, and I was just coming off and then we hit."

Suarez was having another good run in the first stage of the race in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry, but in the final stage he started to struggle with a tight racecar before the incident.

"I was trying to give him some room, but actually I got out of the throttle at that point, but I don't know if he was told it was already time to go up - I don't know. It's just unfortunate because we came from a streak of top-10s, and now this is going to be the end of it," said Suarez, who finished 37th. "We're going to regroup and come back stronger next week."


Of course Erik Jones thought about it. How could he not?

With the race halted by a red flag for a little over five minutes with just two green flag laps left in the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, Jones let his mind wander to what it would be like to win the race.

Not only would it have been the first win of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career and lock him into the postseason, but it would have come at his home town track. A native of Byron, Mich., Jones grew up 99 miles from the racetrack.

"(The red flag) gives you a lot of time to play through scenarios on the restart and how you want it to work out. It's very rare it ever works out the way you picture it in your head," he said. And this one didn't, either. Instead, Jones settled for third.

He would have had to beat his teammate to get that win. Jones was second on the final restart alongside his Furniture Row Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr.

Before the question could even be asked, Truex said flatly Furniture Row Racing does not have so-called "team orders" and that there was no chance he would let Jones win.

Jones cannot make the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs on points, and will have to win one of the next three races to make the postseason.

--- NASCAR Wire Service ---