Winning a championship in NASCAR’s highest level is tough. There’s a reason only 10 drivers in the history of the sport have ever done so. Plus, for the 10 to have done it, just look at the names – Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Lee Petty, Buck Baker and Joe Weatherly.
It’s the best of the best.
Johnson won five straight from 2006 through 2010 but prior to him, the last driver to go back-to-back was Gordon in 1997 and again in 1998. Earnhardt did so on three different occasions, two of which coming in the 90’s. But, over the last 31 years, just three times has someone gone back-to-back.
Joey Logano is hoping to make it four.
But, for Logano, he has to end his slump and needs to do so quickly. The Team Penske driver last won at the Michigan International Speedway on June 10. That’s 20 races ago. In the 19 races since his win, the defending series champion has scored just three top five finishes. In fact, he’s had two top fives over the last 17 races run.
Furthermore, over the last 14 races, Logano has brought his No. 22 Ford home 10th or worse in 10 of them.
The only reason he’s still alive in the playoffs in the Round of 8 was for all the playoff points he accumulated during the regular season and for the stage points he’s scored in the playoff races themselves. He’s just not finishing the races off with top 10’s.
This is the final chance to perform. While he’s +20, it’s not all that likely that he advances onto Homestead on points. He’s likely going to have to win or at least contend to do so. The good news for him though is that he’s a past winner at the ISM Raceway. In fact, he won the Fall race in 2016. The problem is, he hasn’t finished better than 10th in his last five starts since that victory.
Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin had some bad luck last weekend but had a top five finish in five of his past six starts prior. He was fifth in the spring race. Both Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin are capable of winning on Sunday while the other can finish in the top five. Logano, is struggling to get top fives right now.
In practice, he was quick on short run as well as long run speed too. He even qualified on the front row in second.