Roger Penske: No one – including Kevin Harvick – gets in Joey Logano’s head

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Over the last two weeks in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Championship 4 contender Joey Logano has overcome a slow pit stop and tire failure at Texas plus falling a lap down at Phoenix.

Those calamities could have led to being knocked out in the Eliminator Round.

But instead, Logano and the No. 22 team were able to battle back, and now they’ll be racing for the Cup this afternoon at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Surviving Texas and Phoenix appears to be a sign that even though he’s clearly the “kid” among the Champ 4, Logano is mentally tough enough to challenge for stock car racing’s greatest prize.

His boss, Roger Penske, agrees with that sentiment.

After claiming another NASCAR Nationwide Series owner’s championship in last night’s NNS season finale at Homestead, Penske was asked about Kevin Harvick’s attempt at playing mind games with Logano during this week’s Champ 4 press conference.

His response was what you would expect from him – cordial words for Harvick but firm support for his title challenger, Logano.

“I know Kevin quite well and have known him for a long time,” he said. “He’s from Bakersfield [California] where [four-time Indy 500 winner Rick] Mears came from. I remember when he used to think Mears was a superstar. I respect him a lot.

“But I can tell you this, that 24-year-old Joey Logano – no one gets in his head. You could see that when he got down last week in Phoenix. We’re standing behind him. To me, he’s going to be one of the guys that are going to have to get beat.

“Harvick is going to have to beat him to win. I think it’s going to be a level playing field, and the best guy is going to win [today].”

Should Logano win the championship today, it’ll mark an unprecedented feat for Team Penske – capturing the NNS owner’s title and Sprint Cup driver’s title plus the Verizon IndyCar Series title, all in the same year.

The team’s got two of them now. And the Captain expects to get the third.

“I can tell you I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win the championship, point number one,” he said. “But we all signed up for the new format…What we’ve got to do is execute [today].”

Penske added that when he paused to reflect on his team’s 2014 campaign, he’ll see it as “one of the best we’ve ever had.”

That will be the case no matter what occurs today at Homestead. But Penske is most certainly anxious to have his second Cup championship in three seasons, and it’s clear that he has the faith in Logano to bring it to him.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.