Race to Chase update: Logano enters discussion

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Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan was the 23rd of 26 regular season races before NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. Joey Logano had the fastest car all weekend and despite cutting it close on fuel mileage, secured a pivotal first Sprint Cup win for Roger Penske and truly entered Chase contention after being on the fringe the last few races. Logano now sits 13th in points, 17 markers back of the top 10 and just 7 behind Martin Truex Jr. for the second Wild Card spot; each has one win.

Truex fell out of the top 10 on Sunday and was the only driver to lose more than one spot of the top 16 drivers. Kurt Busch’s latest top-five finish moved him up two spots to ninth, one spot behind Brad Keselowski, who had to take a conservative finish instead of gambling to try to win.

Here’s where things sit as of now:

1. Jimmie Johnson, 813 points, 4 wins
2. Clint Bowyer, 772, 0
3. Carl Edwards, 762, 1
4. Kevin Harvick, 749, 2
5. Kyle Busch, 706, 3
6. Matt Kenseth, 688, 4
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 679, 0
8. Brad Keselowski, 667, 0
9. Kurt Busch, 665, 0
10. Greg Biffle, 663, 1
11. Kasey Kahne, -4 behind Biffle, 2 wins
12. Martin Truex Jr., -10, 1
13. Joey Logano, -17, 1
14. Jeff Gordon, -26, 0
15. Ryan Newman, -27, 1
16. Jamie McMurray, -41, 0
17. Paul Menard, -64, 0
18. Tony Stewart, -69, 1
19. Aric Almirola, -76, 0
20. Jeff Burton, -102, 0

The top six still seem all but secure. Dale Earnhardt Jr. could use one more great run to solidify his status. Meanwhile it seems to be down to the top 15 for 12 spots, and Jeff Gordon needs a win to give himself any chance from here.

LOCKED IN: Johnson
VIRTUAL LOCKS: Bowyer, Edwards, Harvick, Kyle Busch, Kenseth
ALMOST LOCKS: Earnhardt Jr., Kahne
GOOD FOR NOW: Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Biffle, Truex

IN RANGE: Logano, Newman
OUT OF RANGE: Gordon
VIRTUALLY ELIMINATED: McMurray, Menard, Stewart, Almirola, Burton

PREVIOUS RACE TO CHASE UPDATES: Indianapolis, Pocono 2Watkins Glen

Supercross: Haiden Deegan debuts in 250s at Houston, Justin Cooper graduates to 450 class for Star Yamaha

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Rising star Haiden Deegan will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut in Houston, Texas with Yamaha Star Racing while the 2021 250 West champion Justin Cooper graduates to 450s.

Deegan, the son of motocross and off-road legend Brian Deegan and brother of NASCAR Truck Series driver Hailie Deegan, made two starts in the Pro Motocross outdoors season last year. He finished 31st overall at the Ironman Nationals in Crawfordsville, Indiana and was 13th at Fox Raceway in the season-ender at Fox Raceway in Pala, California, but the overall results did not necessarily reflect how well he ran. In both events, he challenged for top-10s during portions of the week and actually finished 10th in one of the Pala motos.

Last week, Haiden finished fifth in the Supercross 250 Futures in Anaheim 2.

“We’re really excited to get the season on the East Coast started,” said Monster Energy Team Manager Jensen Hendler in a press release. “It’s also exciting to have Haiden move up to join our pro program this season and to have Justin make his debut on the 450. The guys have been working hard and are looking forward to seeing what they can do this weekend in Houston.”

After scoring a 250SX Futures podium, Talon Hawkins gets 250 East ride.

Deegan will join Nate Thrasher and Jordon Smith in the 250 East division this week.

Cooper moves into the 450 class this weekend. According to Supercross rules, after winning the 2021 championship, he had one season to defend his title and then would be required to move up a class. Cooper missed all of last year to injury.

Cooper was healthy when the outdoor season started and he earned five podiums and nine top-fives in 12 rounds. Three of these races ended in runners-up finishes, at Hangtown, in Rancho Cordova, California, Washougal, Washington and Unadilla, New York.

Cooper joins Eli Tomac and Dylan Ferrandis in the 450 class and will race select events.

Justin Cooper learned to temper aggression with speed

Cooper’s Houston attempt will be the first of an undisclosed number of races he will compete in during the 2023 season.

“It’s been about two years since I’ve lined up for a supercross, and now it’s in a new class with the best guys, so I’m excited to just get out there,” Cooper said. “I’m looking to get back under the lights and learn what I can. Overall, I’m just really excited to be in the position to be out there, so I’m going to make the most of it and enjoy it!”

Deegan and Cooper will be part of a seven-rider Supercross lineup for Yamaha Star Racing. Nick Romano will debut in the 250 East division later this year.