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Rain throws curve at Logano's weekend

LONG POND, Pa. -- Rain at Pocono Raceway was more than just an inconvenience to Joey Logano -- it also threatened to throw a kink into his weekend travel plans, given that the Penske Racing driver is also competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Iowa Speedway.

Persistent rain on Friday put on-track action on hold at the 2.5-mile facility, which was slated to host a 90-minute Sprint Cup Series practice at noon ET and a qualifying session at 3:40 p.m. The wait was particularly agonizing for Logano, whose team was re-evaluating the driver's travel arrangements in the wake of Friday's inclement weather in northeast Pennsylvania.

"We're trying to figure out the logistics of when we can go, and how long should I stay here, and all that. That's been a topic of discussion already for us," Logano said. "If we don't qualify, unfortunately I guess we'll start 18th if we don't get practice on the race track. (Editor's note: If qualifying is washed out and the cars don't get on track, the race lineup would be set per the Sprint Cup Series Rule Book by owner points. The No. 22 car sits 21st in owner points.) I'm sure we'd be better than that if we got to practice. I feel like all year we've been a very solid car and been able to run easy in the top 10 most times. I would expect the same here, and we'll just have to work our way up to the front."

If drivers are able to get in a practice session, the lineup would be set on those speeds. All that was contingent upon the weather Friday, when forecasts called for a 90 percent chance of rain in the area.

So were the travel plans of Logano, one of four drivers -- along with Landon Cassill, Joe Nemechek and J.J. Yeley -- entered in both Sunday's Party in the Poconos 400 Presented by Walmart and Saturday night's DuPont Pioneer 250 at Iowa. Logano said his original plan was to try and make Friday's 6 p.m. Central time final practice at Iowa, but should events be completely washed out at Pocono, he might try to make the 3:30 p.m. local opening practice as well.

All that hinged on the schedule at Pocono. Of the four drivers attempting both races, Logano is the only one with aspirations for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The Penske driver is 18th in the standings, 36 points out of the 10th and final guaranteed playoff berth coming to Pocono, where he won the June event last season.

That's why his Sprint Cup car is the priority this weekend, and he won't forego any track time at Pocono to get to Iowa.

"We'll do what we've got to do to get all the track time, to make sure we have the best shot here," Logano said. "Because if you look at our season, we're 18th in points, but we're only 30-something points out, I think. So we're very capable of getting in the Chase this year, and we can't afford to not give it our all at this point. We'll make sure we focus on the Sprint Cup car and try to get the best finish we can."

Logano, winner of the most recent Nationwide race this past weekend at Dover, doesn't have a backup driver lined up for his No. 22 car in Iowa. Should the delay at Pocono stretch to the point where he can't make it to Iowa, Logano said Penske teammate Sam Hornish Jr. -- a full-time driver on the Nationwide tour -- would shake down the No. 22 in preparation for the event.

"We'll use Sam to tune in the 22 a little, make sure there are no vibrations and leaks, to give me something close and go from there," Logano said. "Obviously, it's not an ideal situation. As a driver, you want to be in the car and set it up yourself, because all of us drive a certain way. But I couldn't think of anyone better to put in the car then Sam."

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