Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Logano Looking for Turnaround at Michigan
Joey Logano has been the most successful Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver at Michigan International Speedway over the past four years. He’s scored eight consecutive top-10 finishes and two wins, including last June.
After only placing in the top-10 three times in his first eight starts at the speedway, he’s been unstoppable since joining Team Penske in 2013, providing the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford team with confidence entering the weekend.
However, it has been a tumultuous last month and a half for the defending winner of the FireKeepers Casino 400.
NASCAR declared Logano’s victory at Richmond encumbered after discovering issues with the rear suspension. The resulting penalties included stripping the team of their playoff status earned through the win in addition to 25 driver and owner points. Crew chief Todd Gordon also served a suspension for two events.
It marked the first time that the sanctioning body has taken away the accolades of a competitor’s victory as a result of an infraction, and the fallout has hurt the No. 22 team.
Logano has placed outside the top-20 in five consecutive races. He endured a similar slump to begin 2011 as his first top-20 finish came during the sixth event of the year at Martinsville.
Two of his poor finishes last month resulted from crashes at Talladega and Kansas, bringing his DNF total for the year to three which matches his overall amount from 2016.
He’s also struggling in the points as he ultimately went from securing a playoff spot after Richmond to now sitting on the outside of the top-16, seven points behind Clint Bowyer in the final post-season position.
The 27-year-old’s recent performances significantly differ from his impressive start to the season as he collected eight top-six finishes in the first nine races.
Now Logano heads to Michigan needing to improve to reclaim his spot as a championship contender.
His victory last June came following a commanding performance as he led a race-high 138 laps en route to earning his first win of the season.
The run earned the team a third consecutive top-10 finish. Now a year later, coming home in the top-10 would be a welcomed result as they look to re-establish their dominance.
Sunday will be a crucial day for Logano. A subpar performance in the “Irish Hills” would be uncharacteristic and cause for greater concern. But a strong outing is expected, especially after a seventh-place qualifying effort, and it could set the No. 22 team up for a rebound this summer.
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