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article imageNASCAR: Logano wins, Team Penske is 2-0 in the 'Chase'

By John Duarte     Sep 22, 2014 in Sports
Loudon - Joey Logano didn't waste any time in securing a spot in the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. One week after teammate Brad Keselowski won the opening round of NASCAR's Chase, Logano won the Sylvania 300 on Sept. 21, 2014.
The win this week means Team Penske now has both its drivers securely placed in the Contender Round in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. But all that means little to Logano, who is focused on the final race of the Challenger Round next weekend at Dover International Speedway.
“Our goal is to win the championship, so we have to get from round to round,” he stressed. “Knowing that we're in the next round is nice, but we want to go there and win.”
Logano said the playoff-like format of this year's Sprint Cup Series makes it that drivers must strive to keep the momentum going. Four drivers of the 16 contenders who made into the Chase are eliminated after each round. A win guarantees passage to the following round, but points still play an important part. Maximizing race points each week is crucial.
“Just because we're in the next (round), doesn't mean we're going to take a week off next week,” Logano said. “You never know what's going to happen later on in this chase. There could be a time we don't make it to the next round (with a win), we have to revert back to points.
“It would be nice to have a pretty solid finish at Dover, to get a good solid points position at the end of the year,” he said.
Continuing the momentum going is also the focus at Penske Racing. Walt Czarneki, vice chairman of the organization, said Logano, Keselowski and the entire team are looking ahead to the AAA 400 at the Monster Mile.
“What happened here half an hour ago is great, and congratulations, but the team is worrying about Dover right now,” he said. That's our intent. One race at a time, and that's how we'll proceed.”
This week's win was not an easy one by any means for Logano, who survived a race fraught with incidents that lead to 15 yellow-flag situations, including 13 in the second half of the race. Perhaps most crucial was the incident during the final stages of the race which sent the Sylvania 300 beyond the scheduled 300 laps and set up a green-white-checker finish. Logano didn't take any chances on the final restart and put some distance between himself and his pursuers.
“A lot went into this one, that's for sure. Everything worked out,” Logano said after the race. “Our goal coming into the race is to get to the next round. We had to get through this day the best we could.
“We were able to capitalize. Have some good restarts and be here in Victory Lane,” he concluded. “The confidence is high right now. All of Team Penske, we feel like we've got some championships to win this year.”
The win has special meaning for New England native Logano, who considers New Hampshire Motor Speedway his “home track.”
“I watched my first Cup race here when I was five. This is such a special place for me,” he said. “To me, this is almost like Daytona.”
For the second race in a row, non-Chase driver Kyle Larson placed in the Top 3. After finishing third a week earlier, Larson climbed a step on the podium to finish second at the Sylvania 300. However, the strong results in the first two races of the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup are little consolation for Larson, who is already looking to the 2015 campaign.
“It's a little bit disappointing seeing how well we've been running and not being in the Chase,” he said. “I know other teams that are in the Chase notice and, I'm sure, they're worried about us for next season already.”
Kevin Harvick was third in the race and feels like he is off to a good start in his championship run. He placed fifth in Round 1.
“The first two weeks have gone really well. It was important to get off to a good start to make sure we weren't scrambling after Week 1.” Harvick said he feels even better after the Sylvania 300. “It was hard racing. I enjoyed it. Hopefully, we can keep running like we're running.”
Aggression and desperation ruled the afternoon, as the 16 drivers vying for the Sprint Cup title jockeyed for a direct path into the next round of the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup. When it was all said and done, the contenders were scattered up and down the field and finishing as low as 37th in the race.
The final race in the Challenger Round, the AAA 400, goes Sept. 28 at the Monster Mile, Dover International Speedway in Delaware.
More about Nascar, chase for the Sprint cup, joey logano, new hampshire motor speedway, Auto racing
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