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Junior, Logano must step up their games at NHMS to get back into Chase contention

By admin | September 21, 2013

By Richard Allen

Neither Dale Earnhardt, Jr. nor Joey Logano came into the Chase for the Sprint Cup as a favorite to take home the big trophy at the end of the season. And one week into the ten race playoff, both drivers are on the verge of early elimination from contention after engine troubles doomed their efforts last weekend in Chicago.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Junior came into the Chase with no bonus points due to not winning any of the first 26 races of the season. As a result, he started in a hole compared to most of the other twelve contenders. That reduced the Hendrick Motorsports driver’s margin for error going in.

After the previously mentioned engine failure in Chicago, Earnhardt now finds himself trailing Sprint Cup points leader Matt Kenseth by 53 points. That margin is more than can be gained in one race. And worse, the #88 driver has twelve other competitors ahead of him in the standings, meaning he has to rely on multiple drivers having at least one bad race.

Having not shown the ability to win races so far in 2013, Junior will have to step up his game significantly to have any chance of getting back into the championship hunt. However, he has never won in Loudon, New Hampshire and has an average finish of only 16th on the flat, one-mile track.

Joey Logano

Logano also suffered a blown power plant in Chicago which relegated him to a 37th place result after starting the race from the pole position. The Penske Racing driver now finds himself trailing Kenseth by 52 points. Like Junior, he not only has a large deficit to overcome but he also has to depend on multiple drivers having at least one failure.

Logano did record one of his three Sprint Cup victories in New Hampshire but his average finish there is only a 17th. He’ll need much better than that to stay afloat.

Both Earnhardt and Logano must finish well up in the order this weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. And more than that, they must beat out other Chase drivers by several positions to claw their way back into contention.

The Joe Gibbs Racing teams of Kenseth and Kyle Busch along with perennial title contender Jimmie Johnson could get away to settle this Chase among themselves if others do not keep pace. The pressure is on both Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Joey Logano this weekend at NHMS to not only keep pace, but make significant gains.

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3 Responses to “Junior, Logano must step up their games at NHMS to get back into Chase contention”

  1. Ken Says:
    September 21st, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Rich, I guess I am one of the very few people who were glad Logano made the chase, despite all the brew-ha-ha over another Ford driver slowing up so Logano could get one extra point to make it past someone whom I refer to as “The Big Crybaby”. There has been as much hate, if not more, launched at Joey (and Carl Edwards) as there has been thrown at Michael Waltrip. First, I hope Logano can come back and win the Cup, but I have to admit the odds are against him at this point. And second, none of this controversy about “SpinGate”, the restart, and allowing a competitor to pass for a point if it hadn’t involved a certain Chevrolet driver being bounced out of the final group he didn’t deserve to be in in the first place. If it had been anyone else, there would be no controversy.

  2. Shane Says:
    September 22nd, 2013 at 2:15 am

    Unless I read it wrong you meant one of his 3 cup wins was at NH, not 2.

    I am amazed (although, I should not be) at the idiots crying foul over Logano getting into “The Chase”. Logano has had a stellar season, a change of everything did him great. He was maligned at Fontana with Hamlin and then TS getting his insane snout into the whole thing, both of which was not his fault. Tony Stewart has caused a cottage industry of idiots parroting everything Tony S. said about Logano, which is not true at all. These same idiots don’t know racing and are calling what is a common accepted practice (WHICH WAS NOT NEEDED) cheating..all because a lone Hendrick driver was not invited to the show. Well that could not be, so Rick got his way. As for saying “Jeff would have been in anyway” as history shows the race isn’t over till its over. But by Nascars insane judgement call they decided the race, when it wasn’t completed. Logano despite his blown engines, his two bum back to back tires, his head on with Kyle trying to avoid the usual lone spin Kyle seems to produce like no other (other than Kasey K. hitting the wall), he has done well and deserves it! Ken I agree! I am tired of the hypocrites who call themselves fans and journalists! I say you don’t know racing or what you are looking at. Go Joey!!!!

  3. midasmicah Says:
    September 22nd, 2013 at 8:34 am

    I’m a Logano fan. I just wish he’d stay out of NNS and CWTS.