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Head2Head: Is Kentucky a make or break race for Logano?

July 04, 2011, ,

On Saturday night, the Cup Series makes its debut at Kentucky Speedway and only a handful of drivers have turned laps on the 1.5-mile speedway. One of those drivers is Joey Logano, who has started from the pole and won in all three starts he's made.

Is Kentucky a make or break race for Logano?


Remember at the beginning of the season when Joey Logano's name was mentioned as someone who could crash the Chase party? Yeah, not exactly working out the way many people envisioned. In Logano's third full season in the Cup Series, this was supposed to be "the year." Logano was to show what experience would add to his natural talent, and the sky was the limit. But 17 races in, Logano is nowhere near a Chase berth, sitting 20th in points.

And that's why the inaugural race at Kentucky is a must-win for Logano. For Logano to have any chance at a Chase berth, it's going to have to come through the wild card, so Logano needs a victory. Enter Kentucky.

Logano has three Nationwide starts at Kentucky and his stats can't get any better ... literally. Three poles, three victories. Now that the Cup Series is racing at Kentucky, you better believe Logano and the No. 20 team have this race circled on the calendar.

And it comes at a great time, which makes it all the more important for Logano to win. The No. 20 is coming off of back-to-back top-six finishes at Sonoma and Daytona and confidence is running high. The time to strike is now, and if Logano can't pull it off at Kentucky, where will he?

The pressure is squarely on Logano's shoulders when the green drops for the first time at the 1.5-mile track.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

No one involved with the No. 20 team has been pleased with the 2011 season. But to term the Kentucky race as "make or break" for a season is ridiculous.

Joey Logano came into this sport with as much fanfare and expectation-filled hyperbole as anyone in a long time. But he was never the one fanning those flames. He's one of the most humble guys in the Cup Series garage, and he wants success as much as everyone else seems to think it's a given.

But it's not a given. He said last year that the jump from Nationwide to Cup was the largest shift in competition and difficulty he's experienced in his rapid rise through the ranks. He's still learning.

He closed last season on a very strong run, only stoking the fire for people expecting him to make the Chase this season. He hasn't been a top contender, but he jumped three spots in the standings with his third-place run at Daytona. He's now 20th, and a victory -- even, yes, at Kentucky -- puts him in the wild-card discussion in a major way. And after seeing the way his team turned it on at the end of 2010, no one would count him out of making noise in the Chase.

Could Kentucky put him in the Chase? Most definitely. Could it "break" his season if he doesn't win? Absolutely not.

Jill Erwin, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Logano knows Kentucky better than most, so expectations are high for the 21-year-old. But at 20th in points, this season has been mostly a struggle. So is Kentucky a make or break race for Logano this season? Bill Kimm says absolutely while Jill Erwin says there is plenty of season left. Read their arguments and weigh in with yours in the comments below. And don't forget to vote for who you agree with more in the poll at the right.