NASCAR: Logano says best way to deal with pressure is ignore it

FORT WORTH - For Joey Logano, the best way to deal with the pressure of a championship run is simply to tune it out. After a fifth-place finish last Sunday at Martinsville Speedway in the first race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup's Elimin...

FORT WORTH - For Joey Logano, the best way to deal with the pressure of a championship run is simply to tune it out.

After a fifth-place finish last Sunday at Martinsville Speedway in the first race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup's Eliminator Round, Logano is third in the standings, just four points behind Chase leader Jeff Gordon.

That's not much comfort, though, for the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. Five drivers are within seven points of the lead, and only four can advance to the Nov. 16 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway with championship eligibility intact.

Logano says the best way to combat the stress is to keep doing what his team has been doing successfully all year long.

"You feel the pressure," Logano admitted. "It's there, and it's there for everyone and probably equal for everyone. Maybe everyone has a different game plan. Some guys have to win, and some need a consistent finish. Either way, there is pressure to (do) that. It's there. I feel like I'm doing a good job handling it, and I think my whole team is.


"When that pressure is on, not only for the driver but the pit crew and the guys working on your car day to day, they are thinking about how one mistake can keep you from winning this championship and that is pressure for sure...

"I feel the 22 team has handled that great so far. I'm not nervous about it at all. Thinking about it just makes you more nervous, so that isn't the right way to go. You focus on your race car and the job at hand."



After taking Kevin Harvick out of last week's Martinsville race and relegating the No. 4 car to a 33rd-place finish, Matt Kenseth said Friday morning he wanted to have a face-to-face meeting with Harvick to discuss the accident.

On Lap 228 of 500, Kenseth's No. 20 Toyota wheel-hopped into Turn 1, spun and collected Harvick's Chevrolet, which crashed hard into the outside wall at the apex of Turns 1 and 2. Harvick lost 40 laps as his crew repaired the car.

After the race, Harvick made a promise.

"He won't win this championship," Harvick said. "If we don't, he won't."


In the week since, Kenseth has been trying to connect with Harvick to mend fences.

"We have tried to connect several times,'" Kenseth said. "It hasn't happened yet, face-to-face, but we've been trying. I will talk to him at some point, (but) I can't fix the situation.

"It's kind of like the guy who causes the wreck at Talladega. He feels terrible about it and ruined a lot of people's days from a mistake he made. Last week, it was the same way. It just unfortunately wrecked Kevin, who was probably the favorite going into the Chase.

"It was terrible timing. It was the wrong place at the wrong time -- and I understand his frustration."



Elliott Sadler and Roush Fenway Racing announced on Friday a partnership that will bring Sadler and sponsor OneMain Financial to RFR next year. Sadler will drive the No. 1 Ford Mustang in the Nationwide Series, which will be rebranded the XFINITY Series after the change in entitlement sponsors.

"It's kind of like a homecoming for me, to be reunited with Ford and Ford Racing, to be reunited with (engine builder) Doug Yates," Sadler said. "Ford really gave me my first big opportunity in the Cup series back in 1999 with the Wood Brothers, and my contract was actually through Roush, because they handled all the stuff for the Wood Brothers back then.


"So it's kind of like I'm coming back home."

Kimi Raikkonen liked the appetizer, but he's still waiting for the full-course meal in NASCAR racing.

No, Raikkonen isn't about to leave his highly prized seat with Ferrari in Formula One, but once his career in the elite open-wheel series winds down, he'd like to try his hand in the stock car ranks again.

Back in 2011, during a two-year break from F1 competition, Raikkonen raced twice during speedweeks at Charlotte in May, finishing 15th in a Camping World Truck fielded by Kyle Busch Motorsports and 27th in a Nationwide Series car .

"I was very pleasantly surprised with how nice and how fun it was," Raikkonen said. "It's not easy -- like any competitive motorsport. I really enjoyed the time. Hopefully, I can do more of those and hopefully, in the future, some Sprint Cup.

"We'll see."

The 2007 F1 champion, who also has raced in the World Rally Championship, was impressed with the challenge NASCAR presented.

"I would like to learn it more," Raikkonen said. "Like I said, it looks very easy, but it's not easy. When you look at each circuit, it just looks like an oval, but every corner is different. When you have knowledge of the sport, you can run much stronger.

"I would like to have a good, proper run at it and try to learn and make good results out of it. It's a different atmosphere, a different way of doing things than F1 or in the Rally, but I really enjoyed it."


By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service


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