MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Joey Logano is approaching rarefied air.
With last Sunday’s victory at Talladega Superspeedway, he’s already the first driver ever to sweep all three races in a single round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Admittedly, the Chase’s elimination format is only two years old, but three straight wins puts Logano in elite company. A fourth straight at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday (1:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN) would elevate his growing stature as a major player in NASCAR’s top series.
Only two drivers have ever won more than four straight races: Richard Petty, who had streaks of 10 (1967) and five (1971), and Bobby Allison, who won five straight events (1971).
Since Jeff Gordon won four in a row in 1998, only one driver has duplicated the feat—Jimmie Johnson in 2007.
But Logano isn’t even thinking about adding his name to the list of drivers who have won four straight races. The prize for taking the checkered flag at Martinsville on Sunday is far greater than any historical significance.
For Logano—and for any of the other seven remaining Chase drivers—a victory at Martinsville is a free pass to the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“If you can win this race, it sets you up so good for Homestead,” said Logano, who jumped to the top of the speed chart in opening Sprint Cup practice on Friday afternoon. “There’s nothing else you think about after you win this race besides Homestead. The other two races (in the Eliminator Round, at Texas and Phoenix) kind of become not very important at all.
“You don’t really get much out of them, because you know at worst you’re going to finish fourth in points, and you have a great shot at winning it because you can focus in two weeks ahead of everybody.”
Logano, who knocked Matt Kenseth out of the way to win the Contender Round race at Kansas, also is tuning out talk of possible revenge against his No. 22 Team Penske Ford at Martinsville.
“We’re focused in on winning the race,” Logano said. “That’s what we can control. We can’t control anybody else’s thinking or what’s in their mind. We have to think about how we advance and how we win this weekend in particular. That’s what we’ve been focused on all week. We’re not going change that.
Logano got a good start on that fourth win as he went out late Friday and won his second Martinsville pole of the season.