Confident Logano hopes to keep rolling right into post-season

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One more good result. That’s all that separates Joey Logano from his first-ever berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup after what has been a superb run in the last six races.

Logano’s post-season hopes seemed pretty much done for after back-to-back 40th place finishes at Daytona and New Hampshire in July. But since then, it’s as if “Sliced Bread” and his No. 22 Penske Racing team have flipped a switch.

Now, a stretch of three straight Top-5 finishes (including a win at Michigan) and six straight Top-10s in the last six events have him on the verge of completing an impressive rally. Logano can lock up a Top-10 spot in the Chase with a finish of 11th or better tonight.

“I will say I kind of thought we were close to being out of it after [New Hampshire],” Logano said Thursday at Richmond International Raceway, site of tonight’s Federated Auto Parts 400 – the last race that will determine the 12-driver Chase field this fall.

“We were 10th [in the standings] going into Daytona. Then after two races you’re 18th, way out of it, 50-something points back.  Think we’re in really big trouble here.

“Then we started racking up Top-10, Top-10, then you get a win – ‘we’re back in it, we got a shot.’ You knock off two more Top-5 finishes, you’re sitting eighth all of a sudden.  Good thing we didn’t give up and quit on this thing.”

Considering what Logano and his team have done to get to this point, it’s easy to see why he’s brimming with confidence going into tonight’s Chase decider.

“The momentum that this team has got right now, it’s hard not to have confidence right now,” said Logano. “I feel like if we just do our deal, be smart – obviously, we’ll be aware of what’s going on out there, what the bubble cars are doing. At the same time, we’ve got to run our race and get the best finish out of it we can.”

He’s also hopeful that his Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski can somehow overcome the odds and make his way into the Chase with a win tonight and some help.

Keselowski is 15th in the standings (28 points out of the Top 10) after suffering an engine failure last weekend at Atlanta, and his own hopes of defending his 2012 Sprint Cup title are fading fast. But Logano expects his Penske partner to come out firing.

“I’d be willing to put money on him that after last week, he’s twice as motivated to come into Richmond right now and win this thing and get in the Chase and prove everybody wrong – probably more than most people out there,” said Logano. “That’s how tough he is.”

Danica says goodbye: ‘Definitely not a great ending’ but ‘I’m for sure grateful’

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INDIANAPOLIS – Danica Patrick’s final racing news conference didn’t but at least she didn’t lose her sense of humor about it.

“Is that like the Oscars when they close the show out?” Patrick joked when her opening address was drowned out by the midrace broadcast of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 in the media center. “Take my mic away. I’ll leave. I promise. I don’t really want to be here because I’m pretty sad, but all right. I guess I’ll stop there.”

That was about as lighthearted as it got, though, for the most accomplished female driver in racing history after the final start of her career. That naturally made for some reflection, too.

“I will say that I’m for sure very grateful for everybody,” she said. “It still was a lot of great moments this month. A lot of great moments this year.”

Patrick was the first woman to lead both the Indianapolis 500 (in her 2005 debut) and the Daytona 500 (in 2013 when she also was the first female to qualify on pole position in NACAR history).

But she couldn’t bookend that with similarly memorable finishes. After crashing out of her final two Cup races in the November 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the 2018 Daytona 500, Indy concluded the same way.

“Definitely not a great ending,” she said. “But I kind of said before I came here that it could be a complete disaster, as in not in the ballpark at all. And look silly, then people may remember that. And if I win, people will remember that.

“Probably anything in between might just be a little part of the big story. So I kind of feel like that’s how it is. I’m appreciative for all the fans, for GoDaddy, for Ed Carpenter Racing, for IndyCar. Today was a tough day. A little bit of it was OK. A lot of it was just a typical drive.”

Beforehand, Patrick seemed relaxed while smiling and laughing outside her car with a tight circle of close friends and family that included her parents and boyfriend Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback.

“For sure, I was definitely nervous,” she said about her first Indy 500 start in seven years. “I found myself most of the time on the grid being confused what part of prerace we were in. I was like, ‘I remember this,’ and ‘Where are the Taps?’ and ‘When is the anthem?’ but I had all my people around me, so I was in good spirits.”

And with that, she bid adieu.

“Thank you guys,” she said. “Thank you for everything. I’ll miss you. Most of the time. Maybe you’ll miss me just a little. Thanks, guys.”