Thursday, April 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Joey Logano denies allegation he was given position, focused on Chase

Five years ago as a then-18-year-old driver, Joey Logano entered the Sprint Cup Series heralded as NASCAR's next great star. But with limited experience, it was an expectation he struggled to meet.

Now, however, in his first season with Penske Racing, Logano has taken the next step in his career and has earned a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Yet that accomplishment hasn't come without controversy.

In-car communication uncovered Wednesday by the Associated Press seems to indicate that Front Row Motorsports driver David Gilliland conceded a position to Logano in final laps.

There is no audio transmission from Penske corroborating that an agreement was reached between the two teams -- both of which are supported by Ford. And Logano says didn't he even know about a potential deal until the story broke Wednesday when he started receiving text messages while doing promotional work in New Hampshire.

"Obviously, I would have known about it if that was the case," Logano said Thursday at the Chase for the Sprint Cup media day. "That is stuff that happens week in and week out with spotters. They are up there communicating back and forth trying to work deals out. ‘Hey, help me out here, I will help you out here, let's work together.' That happens all the time.

"What I look at it and say is that if we didn't pass the 38 car, we were still 10th in points and still got our bonus point so it has no change in the outcome of where we are right now. I don't look at it as being a big deal at all to be honest with you."

Logano finished one point ahead of Jeff Gordon for the 10th position in the standings and with a August win at Michigan would have been eligible for a wild card even if he hadn't passed Gilliland.

NASCAR is still investigating and in a statement released Thursday morning, said it will not comment further.

Earlier in the week, the sanctioning body took the unprecedented step of removing Martin Truex Jr. from the Chase after determining Michael Waltrip Racing had manipulated the Richmond finishing order. The team was also fined $300,000 and general manager Ty Norris was suspended indefinitely.

But despite the charge that he may not have earned his way into the Chase and the uncertainty whether he might be penalized, Logano isn't bothered.

"I am not concerned about it," he said. "I am focused on trying to win Chicago right now. It is not a distraction to me at all to be honest with you. I am just here to race."

This isn't the first time this year Penske has been involved in a potential rules violation. At Texas in April, NASCAR inspectors discovered unapproved rear-end suspension parts on cars of Logano and teammate Brad Keselowski. The infraction cost Logano 25 points and his crew chief Todd Gordon was suspended two races.

"I have been the focal point all year on something," Logano said. "I am used to it at this point. I just go with the flow. I guess I have learned a lot this year and experienced a lot. It just makes you stronger. They say it is character building. I am a hell of a character now."

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This article originally appeared on SBNation.

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