NASCAR Martinsville Notebook: Winning Four Straight Not On Joey Logano’s Mind

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Joey Logano celebrates victory in the Sprint Cup Series 500 at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday (Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Joey Logano celebrates victory in the Sprint Cup Series 500 at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday (Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Joey Logano is approaching rarefied air.

With last Sunday’s victory at Talladega Superspeedway, he’s already the first driver ever to sweep all three races in a single round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Admittedly, the Chase’s elimination format is only two years old, but three straight wins puts Logano in elite company. A fourth straight at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday (1:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN) would elevate his growing stature as a major player in NASCAR’s top series.

Only two drivers have ever won more than four straight races: Richard Petty, who had streaks of 10 (1967) and five (1971), and Bobby Allison, who won five straight events (1971).

Since Jeff Gordon won four in a row in 1998, only one driver has duplicated the feat—Jimmie Johnson in 2007.

But Logano isn’t even thinking about adding his name to the list of drivers who have won four straight races. The prize for taking the checkered flag at Martinsville on Sunday is far greater than any historical significance.

For Logano—and for any of the other seven remaining Chase drivers—a victory at Martinsville is a free pass to the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“If you can win this race, it sets you up so good for Homestead,” said Logano, who jumped to the top of the speed chart in opening Sprint Cup practice on Friday afternoon. “There’s nothing else you think about after you win this race besides Homestead. The other two races (in the Eliminator Round, at Texas and Phoenix) kind of become not very important at all.

“You don’t really get much out of them, because you know at worst you’re going to finish fourth in points, and you have a great shot at winning it because you can focus in two weeks ahead of everybody.”

Logano, who knocked Matt Kenseth out of the way to win the Contender Round at Texas, also is tuning out talk of possible revenge against his No. 22 Team Penske Ford at Martinsville.

“We’re focused in on winning the race,” Logano said. “That’s what we can control. We can’t control anybody else’s thinking or what’s in their mind. We have to think about how we advance and how we win this weekend in particular. That’s what we’ve been focused on all week. We’re not going change that.


Carl Edwards came within an eyelash of winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title in 2011, when he lost the championship to Tony Stewart on a tiebreaker.

At the time, Edwards drove a Ford for Roush Fenway Racing. Now, in his first season in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, the pressure to win a championship may be even greater than it was four years ago—because Toyota is still seeking its first title in NASCAR’s foremost series.

“(Team owner) Joe Gibbs makes it real clear that we are here to compete, and that’s what he does this for,” Edwards said on Friday at Martinsville Speedway. “Toyota let me know that they already have a spot for the trophy. It’s ready. They are in this to win. That’s what all of these folks do. ARRIS (Edwards’ sponsor) came on board, and first thing they told me was that ‘We have the fastest modems, and we better have a fast race car.’

“Everybody wants to win, and it’s cool to be part of a group like that. They’ll do what it takes and they work hard. We have four races left. We’re in the hunt. At the beginning of the season I didn’t feel like … I thought the chance of sitting here being able to say that after about eight races were slim. We were struggling, and I’m really proud of everybody for coming together. This is going to be fun, this is what it’s about.”


For Jeff Gordon, the effect of new SAFER Barriers added to the frontstretch and backstretch at Martinsville Speedway wasn’t as significant as the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion thought it might be.

“The funny thing is, I received a picture last night that came via NASCAR to my crew chief (Alan Gustafson), of that SAFER Barrier,” Gordon said on Friday after opening practice at Martinsville. “I looked at it and my eyes got pretty big. I was like ‘Wow, that’s a pretty big change.’

“And then, I’d kind of forgotten about it, and we started practice, and I didn’t even think about it. I almost didn’t even notice it. I came in and I was thinking about it and I told Alan that I had forgotten all about that SAFER Barrier. It wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought it was going to be.”

But the new barrier turned out to be more of a factor than Gordon thought it was.

“One of my crew members came over and said, ‘Did you touch the wall?’ And I said, ‘I don’t think so.’ And then they said, ‘Well, there’s a scuff on the right side.’ So I guess I was a little closer than I thought I was.

“So yeah, it’s going to make it interesting. It didn’t change things as much as I was anticipating, though. I think I was also quite surprised at the speeds that we saw in practice for qualifying, based on the fact that we lost quite a few feet, if you think of coming off of Turn 2 and coming off of Turn 4, and putting those together.”

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