FORT WORTH, Texas – Less than 24 hours after his impressive victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Team Penske driver Joey Logano turned his focus to Texas Motor Speedway, site of an all-important two-day test session beginning Monday.
Logano, along with Team Penske teammate and current Sprint Cup Series points leader Brad Keselowski, were joined by Roush Fenway Racing drivers Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the test session. With the intensity of the Chase for the Sprint Cup and the first round of eliminations on the horizon, teams looked at both the present and the future – focusing on this weekend’s race at Dover International Speedway while making preparations for the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 2 at Texas Motor Speedway.
“That’s how we got to do it,” Logano said of his Team Penske crew. “We have got to keep fighting hard until the end of this Chase. This was planned before we went to Loudon (N.H). (It is) great we were able to get the win, but we flew down here last night – got here around midnight and got ready for the test today.”
Logano and the Team Penske organization have remained on a roll since capturing a victory at Bristol Motor Speedway last month. The organization has won four of the previous five races, including the first two races to start the Chase. Keselowski kicked off the Chase with a victory at Chicagoland Speedway followed by Logano’s victory last weekend at his home track of New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“When you win at what you think is your worst racetrack and you go there and win, you feel like you can win about anywhere after that,” Logano said. “We’re hitting our stride at the right time. Both Team Penske cars are running really fast right now and we’ve just got to keep going and pushing hard throughout the rest of this Chase. It’s a long eight weeks left and a lot of things could happen.”
Despite already securing a spot in the next round of the Chase, Logano is not ready to take his eyes off the final race of the Challenger round at Dover. For him, it’s about maintaining the level of success for eight more races.
“We’re always looking ahead,” Logano said. “We’re here in Texas looking at Texas coming ahead. At the same time, we’re thinking about Dover coming up this next weekend. We still want to go up there and have a shot at winning it. The fact that we’re in the next round doesn’t make us just say, ‘We’re taking an off weekend this week and focusing on the next one.’ We need to keep that momentum going. We want to go out there and win races. We want to keep this wave rolling as long as we can. So that means we just keep doing what we’ve been doing all year, focus on one track at a time, get prepared for it and execute the plan when we get there.”
For Roush Fenway Racing, the test offered up an opportunity for the organization’s two championship hopefuls – Edwards and Biffle – to reclaim confidence and find the speed necessary to advance to the next round of the Chase.
Edwards will look to lock himself into the Contender round of the Chase with a strong performance this weekend at Dover. Edwards remains on the bubble in advancing to the Contender round, currently sitting ninth in the standings.
Edwards, in his final season with Roush Fenway Racing, understands the intensity of the Chase will reach another level on Sunday as four drivers will be eliminated from championship contention.
“This is it. This is basically your championship,” Edwards said. “If you make a mistake or you don’t do something that you should have, you don’t want to be thinking about that for the next seven weeks and the whole offseason.
“This race is going to be insane. You saw at Loudon how pressure-packed it was and how many folks were pushing it and making mistakes. Dover, you add 30 or 40 miles per hour and a bunch of banking and double the pressure, it’s going to be crazy. We’ve discussed it. We know what we have to do, we just have to go over there and get every spot we can.”
Biffle, who has started the Chase with finishes of 23rd and 16th, is battling to make his way into the next round. He currently finds himself 14th in the standings, just six points outside the top 12 cutoff.
Despite the drastically different layouts between Dover and Texas Motor Speedway, the test session is important for Biffle and his Roush Fenway Racing team to find speed and setups that will help propel them into the Contender round of the Chase.
“It is critical and that is why we are here testing,” Biffle said of the test. “Trying to figure out our program for these mile-and-a-halves and a lot of times when you find speed at these places that transfers to shorter tracks as well. We are working hard to try and find some speed.”