Joey Logano now must test his “do-or-die” theory

LOUDON, NH - JULY 14: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Overton's 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 14, 2017 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

LOUDON, N.H. – Joey Logano is firm believer that his No. 22 Team Penske outfit is at its best with backs against the wall.

After Sunday’s Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Logano will have a chance to prove that premise.

A rear suspension failure sent Logano to the garage after 173 of 301 laps. After losing 33 laps during repairs to his Ford, Logano finished 37th and fell 52 points behind fourth-place finisher Matt Kenseth for the final spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff.

With seven races left before the playoff grid is set, Logano, whose earlier victory this season at Richmond is encumbered because of a penalty, likely must win a race to qualify.

“It’s not good—at all,” Logano said. “Right now we’re in the position where we have to execute. We have to finish the best as possible, and we didn’t do that today. We have to go back to work and make sure our cars stay together, and we have to get faster. All three of our cars (including the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford of Ryan Blaney) were a little off today. I guess Brad (Keselowski) is probably the best driver at this race track and I try to learn from him and he was struggling out there with me.

“It was a humbling day. This race team knows how to do this. All of Team Penske knows how to win races and make cars fast. They do it in a bunch of different series and have been doing it over here for years. We have to stay together. Stay as a team. Keep pushing. If it happens, it happens. Hopefully we can get some speed enough to squeak a win out before the playoffs and get our 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford into the playoffs.”

The situation is nothing new to Logano who won elimination races at both Talladega and Phoenix in last year’s playoff to keep his championship hopes alive.

“Must win, back against the wall,” Logano said. “We won both times. The team has it in them. We just have to get faster to be able to do that. Our team executes well. We just have to have something to race with a little bit.”