Sunday could be a moment of truth for Joey Logano

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - AUGUST 30: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, climbs into his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on August 30, 2019 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

In any Playoff, says defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano, every driver will face a moment of truth.

Logano’s may have come on Monday at Talladega Superspeedway, where he recovered from early damage to finish 11th in a race that had devastating consequences for a handful of other title contenders.

Then again, the crucible for Logano may be Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Yes, Logano left Talladega holding the last Playoff-eligible position by 18 points over Alex Bowman, but, as others have learned, leads can be fleeting.

And if a driver in the bottom four happens to win on Sunday, Logano could be the odd man out. That’s why he’ll be trying to protect his advantage as well as trying to catch Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski, whom he trails by two points, as insurance against a potential knockout blow.

“At some point, no matter what during these Playoffs, you will be in a do-or-die moment,” Logano said before Friday’s opening practice at Kansas. “Even if you have the most smooth nine races you can have, and you get to the Championship 4, when you go to Miami, it is do-or-die. You win or you are out. You will always be put in these situations, and I feel like as a team we’re pretty strong in these situations.

“I feel confident. I feel good about this week. I feel prepared and I feel like this is a good race track for us in the past. We’ve won a couple of times here. After Vegas… we had a really, really fast car there and a car capable of winning for sure. This is a similar race track to that now with this 550 (horsepower) package the way it is. I feel good about that. It’s still going to be a crazy race and going to be very intense on restarts.

“I think everyone, if you re-watch the race from the spring here, this is maybe one of the best races of the year now here in Kansas. The restarts are just insane, where everybody goes and tries to make passes on that curved front straightaway. It is going to be crazy for sure out there. You have to make sure you can control what you can control—the restarts and making sure you don’t get any damage and things like that. Outside of that, you just do your job, and you’ll be just fine.”