Team Penske’s Joey Logano has won twice and notched six Top-5 finishes in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.
He also currently sits in one of the four advance positions to the Championship Race at Homestead.
So as he returns to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for the middle race of the Eliminator Round, he’s not looking to alter his approach.
“We’re gonna stay doing what we’ve doing, what we’ve done all year even before the Chase started,” said Logano, who won at Texas this past spring in green-white-checkered.
“We’ve raced the same way, we’ve raced aggressive. We’ve put ourselves in offensive mode no matter what the situation was. We saw that again last weekend [at Martinsville] – took four tires with a green-white-checkered, restarted 13th, and…got up to fifth.
“That’s the mode we should stay in, because that’s what’s been working. It’s not the time to reinvent the wheel, just time to polish the wheel a little bit and make sure we keep doing what we’re doing – just do a little better job of it.”
Up by only three points over the cutoff going into Sunday’s AAA Texas 500, Logano recognizes the need to get another victory.
While another Top-5 finish would get him closer to the Championship Race, there’s no amount of points cushion in his mind that would make him feel good heading into next weekend’s Eliminator Round finale at Phoenix.
As proof, he cited Kyle Busch’s 26-point cushion heading into the Contender Round finale at Talladega, which was erased by a mid-race crash that caused him to finish 40th and miss the Eliminator Round by seven points.
“I thought Kyle would’ve been a lock before Talladega and then watching what happened to him – I don’t think you ever feel comfortable unless you’ve got a win under your belt,” said Logano.
“That’s why we want to get one of those…If not, you’re gonna be pulling your hair out all the way to the end of Phoenix.”
It’s an intense situation for sure, and it’s one that has become the norm with this new Chase format.
Since nobody wants to deal with a must-win situation in the elimination races, the importance of winning in the first two races of Chase rounds has become paramount.
However, Logano believes that all of the pressure has not affected him or the 22 team.
“Those guys going over the wall, you’re in position to win the race, you come down pit road, and one missed lugnut changes the whole outcome of the year – that’s pressure,” he said. “And I feel this whole 22 team has handled that great so far.
“I’m not nervous about it at all…Thinking about the pressure makes you more nervous, so that’s not really the right way to go. You just kinda focus on your race car and the job at hand.”