Bristol Weekend Preview: Logano’s mindset no different as he looks for first win

Joey Logano

Joey Logano

Triumphant in last year’s Daytona 500, Joey Logano partook in his signature celebration. He climbed on the door of his yellow and red No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford and ecstatically pumped his steering wheel in the air with his left hand as he was pelted with champagne and confetti following the biggest win of his career.

Logano would go on to repeat this ceremonial process five more times in 2015 when he won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series-best six races.

Through seven contests this season, Logano has yet to capture a victory and the automatic Chase berth that comes with it.

He maintains his mindset on the track remains unchanged as he heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Food City 500 (1 p.m. ET on  FOX).

“It doesn’t change the way I race,” Logano said. “I’m going to race aggressively either way. And I said that last year. Yeah, we had the Daytona 500 win in our back pocket, but I didn’t race any less aggressive, or more aggressive. This year I wouldn’t say is any different. I found what works for me. It’s taken me from running 15th to winning races, so I’m going to keep doing that.”

Although he hasn’t taken a checkered flag yet in his eighth full-time NSCS season, the 25-year-old Connecticut native has produced three top-five and four top-10 finishes.

Logano welcomes Bristol where he’s won two of the last three races.

“Same thing. If it’s not broke don’t fix it,” said Logano when asked what he needs to do to win again at ‘The World’s Fastest Half Mile.’ “I think we have a good idea, probably there more than any race track we go to on what we need to do to race well, and what we need at the end of the race to race well. So I think we’ve learned that and done a really good job at taking our notes and understanding what those items are and making sure we have them in our race car.”

Despite his recent success at Bristol, Logano has had his struggles there, including a 40th-place showing last spring when he sustained major damage after colliding with teammate Brad Keselowski early in the race.

“Bristol is a beast of its own,” Logano said. “There’s huge banking, short straightaways, you’re in the corners very long. It’s just fast. Every other short track we go to isn’t as fast – Richmond, Martinsville – they’re not as fast as Bristol.

“It’s just that track that stands out and is special to you and it’s always been that way.”

Heatin’ up: NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash set to launch at Bristol

Bring the heats.

The new NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash format – consisting of two Heats and a Main – debuts on Saturday in the Fitzgerald’s Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway (12:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

Erik Jones. (Getty Images)

Erik Jones. (Getty Images)

“I think all of us drivers are really anxious, but excited about how the heat races will play out at Bristol this weekend,” said Ryan Reed, driver of the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. “Adding this new element into the XFINITY Dash 4 Cash program is huge and could have major points implications if we do well, or not-so-well.”

Coors Light Pole qualifying will set the eligibility for the 40-car field and the starting positions for the 50-lap Heats (26.5 miles). Odd-numbered qualifiers (first, third, fifth, etc.) will start in the first Heat in respective order, while even-numbered qualifiers (second, fourth, sixth, etc.) will begin the second Heat in respective order. The Heats will set the starting positions for the 200-lap Main (106.6 miles) with the top two NASCAR XFINITY Series regulars in each Heat becoming eligible for the Dash 4 Cash bonus. The highest finishing driver among the four Dash 4 Cash-eligible competitors will be awarded a $100,000 bonus.

“I think it’s a good idea – something to change it up,” Sunoco Rookie of the Year frontrunner Erik Jones said. “I think we’re doing the right thing and taking the right steps to doing things that have been voiced by the fans that is something different than what’s been done in the past.”

After the Fitzgerald’s Glider Kits 300, the NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash is scheduled to take place at three more tracks using the same format: Richmond International Raceway (April 23), Dover International Speedway (May 14) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 23). If any driver wins multiple Dash 4 Cash bonuses, he/she is all but guaranteed a spot in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase.

“I think you’ll see a lot of drivers go for it in the heat races and get the Dash 4 Cash qualifying positions,” said Brandon Jones, driver of the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. “It’s a really neat format for us XFINITY Series drivers. I’m excited to see how it plays out. The fans almost get three races for the price of one. There’s going to be a lot of action in the heat races, and I know the main event won’t disappoint.”

Race Weekend Preview

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Race: Food City 500

Place: Bristol Motor Speedway

Date and Time: Sunday, April 17 at 1 p.m. ET

Tune-in: FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 266.5 miles (500 laps)

What to Watch For: Kyle Busch goes for his third straight win. … Matt Kenseth attempts to defend his spring 2015 Bristol victory. … One week after finishing sixth despite leading a race-high 141 laps at Texas, Martin Truex Jr. tries to turn around his luck at Bristol. … Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has a single-track career-high two top fives and 11.2 average finish in six starts at Thunder Valley. … Ryan Blaney tries to catch Chase Elliott in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings at Bristol where he owns a NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win.

NASCAR XFINITY Series

Race: Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300

Place: Bristol Motor Speedway

Date and Time: Saturday, April 16 at 12:30 p.m. ET

Tune-in: FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: Two Heat Races – 26.65 miles (50 laps) | Main – 106.6 miles (200 laps)

What to Watch For: Only a point down in the NASCAR XFINITY Series point standings, Elliott Sadler can seize the lead from Daniel Suárez. … Erik Jones tries to increase his 21-point advantage over Brandon Jones in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.

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