Joey Logano goes for Texas sweep, berth in Sprint Cup title race this weekend


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.”

Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”