Joey Logano thinks wreck will happen in ‘Dega knockout qualifying

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Could The Big One come a day early? Joey Logano believes that it could.

In order to keep advancing through tomorrow’s Sprint Cup qualifying rounds at Talladega Superspeedway, drivers will likely have to deal with the draft and the packs that they’ll see again in Sunday’s main event, the Aaron’s 499.

And Logano, the most recent Sprint Cup race winner,  feels that a crash is inevitable.

“I think there will be a wreck within this qualifying session just because [of] the closing rate you’re gonna be catching some of these guys,” said Logano this morning at ‘Dega.

“For guys in the middle of the race track and then you’re going to the bottom, he decides he wants to get out of the way and goes to the bottom – oh, shoot, you’re gonna get in a crash.

“So you’ve got to be on your toes throughout the whole session. I think as each session goes it’s gonna get a little bit calmer because obviously there are gonna be less cars out there.”

‘Dega will utilize the three-round knockout format. Round 1 will last for 25 minutes, and the 24 fastest drivers on single-lap speed will move on to the 10-minute Round 2.

The 12 fastest on single-lap speed from there go on to fight for the pole in Round 3, which will last for five minutes.

Logano said he intended to keep an eye on Nationwide Series qualifying (which goes off in about half an hour) to potentially gain more ideas on how to handle what could be a wild Saturday afternoon.

However, like just about everyone else in the garage, he didn’t know what to expect.

“I will say that we have a little game plan to work and try to make sure our cars not only stay safe but are able to go out there and post a good lap and just try to get through all of the segments,” he said.

“Our car is still the only car to get through every [qualifying] segment this year so far. That’s something to be proud of. This is the one real wild card because there’s a good chance the fastest car may not get the pole this week. That’s gonna be something very different. There’s a lot of strategy that’s gonna go into this.”

Excluding the Daytona 500 (which only has qualifying for the front row and the Duels to set the remainder of the field) and Richmond (whose qualifying was rained out), Logano has an average start of 4.1.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.