Joey Logano focused on fixing weak points, including short tracks

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It would be hard to disagree with calling Joey Logano one of the most improved drivers in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Heading into 2014, his second year with Team Penske, Logano is already focused on fixing his weaker points.

“I feel like we’ve had the opportunity last year to win five to six races,” Logano said during his first media availability of the new year, Thursday at NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway.

“We only capitalized on one, so we can get better at that. I think that’s a big area for us. I think our pit stops, we’re making some changes on the pit crew to make that better. I felt like our cars last year had speed in them.

“I felt like the mile-and-a-half stuff was probably our best.  It’s where our strongest suit was. But we were working hard on where our weaker points were, which I felt like were short tracks, and able to work on that stuff.”

Logano said breaking down film of the year can help spur him forward in the pursuit of catching Jimmie Johnson. Logano said he feels confident the No. 22 team can beat him, but they haven’t done it with any degree of regularity as yet.

“You look at football players and teams like that, they’re always studying tapes and studying their competition on how they can get better,” Logano explained.  “So the same thing comes down in our sport.  We’re going to look at pictures of cars on the racetracks and study race footage, in-car cameras, whatever we can find, we’re going to study it and try to understand what they’re doing inside the car and outside the car to win six championships because I want to get six of them too.”

It’s hard to believe but Logano, only 23, is entering his sixth full season in Sprint Cup. He’s never won multiple races in a season and is coming off making his first Chase. More wins and sustained consistency is the next step in the development for the driver referred to earlier in his career as “Sliced Bread.”

How Hamilton, Mercedes can clinch F1 titles at the United States GP

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Sunday’s United States Grand Prix could go down as a memorable race in Formula 1 history as both Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes bid to clinch their fourth world championships (live on NBC and NBC Sports app from 2pm ET).

Hamilton gave his chances of wrapping up the drivers’ title and re-claiming the crown he lost to Nico Rosberg in 2016 a world of good by charging to pole position on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas.

However, with chief rival Sebastian Vettel starting second for Ferrari and a 16-point swing required, it seems likely that the title race could continue to next weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Nevertheless, here are the permutations for Lewis Hamilton to win his fourth F1 world title on Sunday in Austin, Texas.

  • If Lewis Hamilton wins the race (25 points) and Sebastian Vettel finishes sixth or lower (maximum eight points), he is world champion.
  • If Hamilton finishes second (18 points), Sebastian Vettel finishes ninth or lower (maximum two points), and Valtteri Bottas does not win the race, he is world champion.

While Hamilton’s coronation seems likely to be postponed until the next race in Mexico, Mercedes looks nailed-on to wrap up its fourth consecutive constructors’ championship in Sunday’s USGP.

The German marque currently leads Ferrari by 145 points in the teams’ standings, and requires a lead of 129 after the race to clinch the crown.

As a result, a double top-four finish from Hamilton and Bottas would be enough for Mercedes to wrap up the title, regardless of how Ferrari fares.

The success would see Mercedes become just the fourth team in F1 history take four straight constructors’ titles, following Red Bull (2010 to 2013), Ferrari (1999 to 2004) and McLaren (1988 to 1991).

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.