After his win on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, Joey Logano is in the thick of things in fighting for a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Logano moved up three positions in the point standings to 13th. He trails 10th-place Greg Biffle by 17 points. Logano also climbed to third in the wild card rankings. Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. presently hold the two wild cards. Just three races remain before the Chase begins.
After the 26-race regular season concludes next month at Richmond, the top-10 drivers in points as well as two wild cards will be in the Chase field.
Logano is in his first season as driver of the No. 22 Ford for Penske Racing. He spent the last four years with Joe Gibbs Racing before Matt Kenseth replaced him in the No. 20 Toyota. Logano has found a home at Roger Penske's team, and he's now very optimistic of making the Chase for the first time.
"We're close," Logano said. "This is a hard-fought win throughout this whole Penske team, this 22 team in particular. We've gone through a lot this season."
It's been an up-and-down season for the 23-year-old Logano. After a fourth- place finish in the June 29 race at Kentucky, he jumped to 10th in points. But Logano had a setback from there, posting back-to-back 40th-place finishes at Daytona and New Hampshire. He dropped to 18th in the standings. Logano's victory at Michigan marked his first top-five run since Kentucky.
The Sprint Cup Series will run at Bristol on Saturday and then head to Atlanta on Labor Day weekend before the regular season wraps up on the second weekend in September at Richmond.
Logano's team is preparing for the next three races the best it can, in hopes of making the Chase. They are scheduled to test at Richmond on Tuesday.
"We came out with kind of an aggressive testing program leading up into the Chase," Logano's crew chief, Todd Gordon, said. "We'll continue to focus on closing up the 17 points we need to 10th, and that starts with a test at Richmond and on to Bristol."
Logano also has dealt with more than his share of adversity this year. He first had his run-ins with Denny Hamlin at Bristol and Tony Stewart at California in March. Then his and Brad Keselowski's teams were severely penalized by NASCAR for illegal parts found on their cars during pre-race inspection at Texas in April.
In its final appeal, Penske had the suspensions for seven team members reduced from six points-paying races to two, but the loss of 25 points for both Logano and Keselowski remained. That could come back to bite them in trying to make the Chase. Keselowski, the defending Sprint Cup champion, is currently eighth in points but has yet to win a race this season. He's only eight points ahead of 11th-place Kahne.
Logano claimed his third career Sprint Cup win but his first since June 2012 at Pocono. He knows another win within the next three weeks would be crucial in his attempt to qualify for the Chase.
"We need to try to figure out how aggressive we need to be," Logano said. "That's a conversation we'll have throughout this week. Right now, as long as we're consistent, knocking off top-10s like this team has been doing, if we get another win, yeah, it's going to help us get in the Chase."