PHOENIX, Ariz.— Of the drivers who have dominated the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season, Joey Logano is in the most comfortable position as the final race in the Chase’s Eliminator Round approaches.
Logano, the Chase leader, can lock up one of four available spots in the Nov. 16 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a finish of 11th or better in Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500.
Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski, who like Logano have shown consistent speed this season—with the victories to prove it—aren’t as fortunate as the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. Where Logano can qualify for Homestead with a solid run, Harvick, Gordon and Keselowski can be assured of a spot in the title race only with a win on Sunday.
Logano, however, plans to aim higher than 11th at Phoenix.
“All we have to do is finish 11th, but our goal is to come out here and win the race,” Logano said before Friday’s opening Sprint Cup practice at the one-mile track. “If our goal was only 11th, we may not finish there, so we have to make sure we set our goals high, like we’ve been doing for the rest of the season.”
Nevertheless, Logano’s says it’s difficult not to be aware of the “magic number.”
“It’s in your mind,” Logano acknowledged. “You start thinking about what you have to do to get to the next round, but at the same time you have to not think about that in the race. You have to stay focused in on the task at hand like we did last week (recovering from a cut tire and a spin to finish 12th at Texas).
“We quite possibly could have been out of it last week after everything started happening there at the end of the race. I feel like we recovered great. We didn’t finish where we wanted to going into the day, but after losing that many spots toward the end of the race and being able to come home 12th—all things considered—it was a decent day.
“We’ll have to do the same thing here, go out there and try to win the race and roll with the punches no matter what happens–no pun intended.”