Joey Logano must win Sunday at Phoenix to advance to the Championship 4.
Just a few minutes after Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, suspended driver Matt Kenseth lit a fire in the social-media sphere with a less-than-subtle shot at rival Joey Logano and NASCAR chairman Brian France on Twitter.
The Kansas incident, which ruined Kenseth’s best shot to advance in the Chase and left the 2003 Sprint Cup champion seething, ultimately weighed heavily on Kenseth’s decision to deliberately wreck Logano two weekends later at Martinsville.
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Kenseth wasn’t in Texas while serving the first of a two-race suspension for his actions, but decided to make his presence felt nevertheless.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with FOXSports.com on Tuesday evening, Logano was asked to offer his reaction to his rival’s blatantly contentious post-race tweet.
"I don’t have a reaction," Logano said prior to an appearance on "NASCAR Race Hub" at the FS1 studios in Charlotte, North Carolina. "I don’t need to go to Twitter to tell someone how I feel about what’s going on. I’m past that stage in my life."
While Kenseth has been fairly loquacious on Twitter since being suspended Nov. 3, there’s been hardly a whimper from Logano, aside from numerous retweets. The lack of chatter from Logano is apparently by design.
"I’ve got nothing to say," Logano told FOXSports.com. "I’m focused on driving my race car. I don’t need to talk on Twitter and talk a big game. I just need to go out there and produce on the racetrack."
Logano will need to produce in a big way in Sunday’s elimination race at Phoenix International Raceway if he is to reach the following weekend’s Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
A week after getting wrecked by Kenseth at Martinsville, Logano went to the garage early last Sunday in Texas following a tire failure on his No. 22 Ford. Already needing a victory at Texas or Phoenix to advance, Logano now has just one more shot.
"Our motto that we had last year, too, is ‘Do what we do,’" the Team Penske driver said. "When you get put in situations, you don’t change what you do. As far as what you do at the racetrack, what you do to prepare to get to the racetrack, what we’ve done all year has been very successful, so because our backs are against the wall doesn’t mean we need to change everything we’re doing, because we know how to do it. We know the recipe."
"I don’t know how else to put it," he said. "You go there determined to win the race, and we feel like one of our best racetracks is Texas. Obviously it’s a good track for Brad (teammate Keselowski). Brad led a ton of laps and we probably could have been up there with him. Who knows, you know? … If we had finished second last week we’d be in the same boat we are this week, so it’s literally that all-or-nothing race — Texas and Phoenix. We’re going into Phoenix the same way we would if we finished second last week."
Logano admits he has recently pondered the possibility of failing to make the Championship 4, but he’s trying to stay positive.
"It would be frustrating, yes, because we’ve had a great year, we’ve got six wins, a ton of top fives. There’s no doubt this team deserves to be at Homestead," he said. "But you can also argue that Jimmie Johnson deserves to be at Homestead. That’s just the points system that there is right now in NASCAR, and everyone has an equal playing field, right? Everyone has the same thing. The fact of the matter is top fives don’t pay anymore. Wins don’t even really pay anymore unless you really need them, and we’re in a situation that we need it.
"Either way, we know we’ve had a great season and I’m proud of what our team did, but I haven’t really let my mind think that way much. I still think we have a great shot at this. Phoenix hasn’t been a bad track for us in the past. We’ve just got to elevate our game and rise to the occasion."
"It’s in the past," he said. "We’ve got to look out the windshield. … We need to focus on what gets us in the Chase and not worry about what happened in the past. That’s done with.
"There’s nothing really to say about it. It’s not the best situation; it put us in the situation we’re in now, but it is what it is. We’ve got to figure out how to get in."