Logano still seeks success at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Joey Logano turned his first-ever laps in a Sprint Cup car at Atlanta Motor Speedway years ago when he 14 years old, and his father duped track officials into letting him take a test ride. So it’s a little surprising that AMS statistically is one of his worst tracks.

His best AMS finish in a Cup race, 18th, came last year, and his average finish for his six career starts there is 26th.

But this year he comes to Atlanta, where he lived in the suburb of Alpharetta for a time, with a new team, Penske Racing, and a ton of momentum after a win at Michigan and a strong run at Bristol in the past two races. At Bristol, he bounced back from an early crash and drove his patched-up Ford to a fifth-place finish, which propelled him into 10th place in the standings.

Since finishing 40th at New Hampshire on July 14, Logano hasn’t finished worse than eighth and has moved from 18th in the standings to 10th.

Now it’s on to AMS, where he had great success on the quarter-mile Legends track, but not so much on the 1.54-mile layout.

“I’ve never really run great (at AMS),” he said. “I’ve run in the top 10, but I’ve never really had a car that’s been able to go up there in the top five or anything like that.

“But we’re not going go in there thinking that we’re going to have a bad run.”

Ragan’s car fueled by peanuts: Unadilla’s David Ragan, who started his racing career on the Legends track at AMS, returns to his home turf this weekend after posting his second-best finish of the season last week at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Ragan, who scored a stunning victory at Talladega Superspeedway in May, finished 12th at Bristol after setting the pace in the first practice session.

His trip home began with a fan day at his Ford dealership in Perry on Thursday, then it was on to AMS, where he was one of the drivers participating in a recent test of a multiple-compound right-side tire.

He said in his team’s weekly release that he looks forward to Sunday night’s marathon.

“Five hundred miles at Atlanta is one of the longest races of the year,” he said. “It seems like it goes on forever. It’s a tough race, but I always look forward to it because it’s in my backyard. I love being back home in Georgia.”

Ragan’s No. 34 Ford will carry sponsorship from Peanut Patch Hot Boiled Peanuts.

Positioning for the Chase: When the checkered flag falls following the AdvoCare 500, several drivers likely will have secured berths in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, as there’s just one more race before the Chase begins, Sept. 7 at Richmond International Raceway.

Jimmy Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth are assured Chase berths. Any driver who winds up 49 points ahead of the 11th-place driver in the standing after Sunday night will clinch a top-10 spot.

Carl Edwards, third in the standings, can clinch a Chase berth with a 39th-place finish, and Kevin Harvick, fourth in points, gets in with a 31st-place finish. Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle and Logano also could clinch this weekend.

Martin Truex Jr., Logano and Biffle could take at least a wild-card berth.

Moonshine shootout: Officials with the Fayetteville-based United Sprint Car Series are expecting a full field of cars for the Tim Smith’s Climax Moonshine Sprint Car Shootout on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway following qualifying for the AdvoCare 500.

The 50-lap event will be run on the quarter-mile Legends track on the frontstretch of the 1.54-mile quad-oval.

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