By Jared Turner
Just two races ago, Joey Logano was the toast of the NASCAR world on the heels of winning three consecutive races and sweeping all the races in the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
But now, with one race remaining in the Eliminator Round, Logano’s title hopes are all but toast after the Team Penske driver was deliberately wrecked by Matt Kenseth at Martinsville and then went to the garage area early in Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway because of a massive tire failure on his No. 2 Ford. Now, Logano absolutely has to win Sunday’s elimination race at Phoenix International Raceway – a track where he’s never been to Victory Lane – to be eligible for the championship the following weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
It’s a tall hill to climb and one that Logano, frankly, may not be emotionally ready to tackle after the disappointments of the past two weeks.
If Logano doesn’t make it to Homestead, it would be a major letdown when considering the season he’s enjoyed. Since opening the year with an electrifying triumph in the Daytona 500, the sport’s biggest and most prestigious race, the 25-year-old kid from Middletown, Connecticut has gone one to roll up a career-high six victories.
And he’s prevailed at literally every kind of track – superspeedway, short track, intermediate and even on a road course.
Yet Logano would probably trade all of those, except perhaps his Daytona 500 trophy, for a Sprint Cup title – which is the ultimate goal of every driver.
Logano came close to the Promised Land last year, making it to Homestead but finishing last among the four championship finalists when his pit crew floundered badly late in the race.
Given the opportunity to contest another title at Homestead, it’s a pretty sure bet Logano would be the driver to beat and his crew would bring its “A” Game. But due to no fault of his own – being wrecked deliberately at Martinsville and a tire failure he didn’t create at Texas – Logano will likely have to wait at least another year to get his Homestead redemption.