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Joey Logano Starts 28th in Pursuit of Timely Bristol Win

Joey Logano has a long ways to go with reaching the front of the field at Bristol. (Photo: Kyle Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Throughout Joey Logano’s storied NASCAR Cup Series career, he has taken a liking to the 0.533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway.

In 26 starts, Logano has two wins, six top fives and 10 top 10 results, good enough for an average finish of 15.4. Most notably, he won back-to-back Bass Pro Shops Night Races at Bristol in 2014 and 2015.

While Bristol is highly lauded by the 33-year-old Middletown, Connecticut native, he has been in a bit of a slump at the concrete arena. Namely, his last top five result was in the spring 2019 race when he placed third.

Still, the two-time and defending Cup champion loves this track in terms of its sports arena atmosphere and physical challenge.

“I like Bristol. It’s my favorite track. I love going there,” Logano said in a Ford Performance press release. “It’s a great stadium environment with the fans right there. It’ll be a tough, grueling 500 laps around there.

“The track changes a lot from what you have in practice to what you have at the end of the race. It’s pretty cool.”

If Logano wants to win his third Bass Pro Shops Night Race at the famed speed palace, he will have his work cut out for him. Although he placed a respectable 15th in Friday’s sole practice session, he qualified a lowly 26th for Saturday night’s 500-lap race.

It is easily Logano’s worst starting position in any Bristol race on the concrete surface. However, he posted the 12th fastest time in a 10-lap consecutive average run, an indication that he may have a fast No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang during a long, green flag run.

Perhaps they key to Logano’s confidence at Bristol is having a bit of a no fear mentality. After all, there is nowhere to run or hide at one of NASCAR’s shortest tracks in the Cup schedule.

“You can’t race scared,” Logano said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s NASCAR Talk show. “You can’t fall to the back like at Talladega. You’re in it. You just hope you don’t get in something like that.”

In an almost self fulling prophecy prior to Friday’s on track activities, Logano shed some insights on how to march through the field at “The World’s Fastest Half Mile.”

In Joey Logano’s perspective, racing at Bristol is all about survival and smarts. (Photo: Kevin Rtichie | The Podium Finish)

“There’s a fair amount of room at Bristol,” he said. “When you think about it, I know it’s a half mile and it’s tough, but you can run by the wall or the very, very bottom so sometimes, they tangle up on the exit as they come up against near and there. But in the corners, there’s some space. I think that part will be OK.”

Like most any other race on the Cup circuit, Logano can count on his Team Penske pit crew, led by crew chief Paul Wolfe, to help him make up ground. Then again, it comes with a catch.

“There’s strategy options that come into play especially if there’s a lot of cautions and how that happens,” he said. “There’s time to recover. 500 laps is a long, long time. There’s time to recover if something does happen to you.

“The big thing is you can’t make a green flag pit stop. That’s one of the biggest things that you don’t want to have to do. If you have an issue and you have to come down to pit road, you lose so many laps there. So that’s probably one of the biggest things is to stay in the game.”

Staying in contention is an intangible that Logano excels at as seen throughout this year’s Playoffs. After a pedestrian 13th at Darlington, Logano and his team extracted the most out of their car at Kansas in tandem with good strategy.

Placing fifth in the final rundown, the result put Logano in 11th position, 12 points ahead of 13th place Martin Truex Jr. A win would ease a lot of concerns but a solid result would be more than enough to ensure a Round of 12 position.

Ultimately, it comes down to making good pace, staying out of trouble and not panicking in adversity. In other words, it will take a gladiator’s effort to avoid being caught in trouble at the lightning fast concrete beast.

“When you go down one lap there, you can recover,” Logano said. “If you go down two plus laps, oh, it’s getting tricky. There’s no lucky dogs when you’re two laps down most of the time, especially at Bristol. You’re going to have it earn it back the hard way or get lucky and get some wave around action so it’s a tricky place there.”

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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