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Joey Logano outside of playoff bubble at regular-season midpoint: 'We've just got to be perfect from here out'

Joey Logano outside of playoff bubble at regular-season midpoint: 'We've just got to be perfect from here out'

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — Joey Logano starts from the best seat in the historic house for Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race, having put his No. 22 Team Penske on the pole position in Saturday’s unique qualifying session at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Logano will chase the $1 million prize from the front of the field in Sunday night’s 200-lap main event (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), but his pursuit of a third NASCAR Cup Series championship hasn’t had quite the same speedy results. Before on-track activity began Friday, the 33-year-old driver admitted that his tension level was as high as it has been this late in a season in recent memory.

“Yeah, in a while for sure, but there’s no running away from it. It is what it is,” Logano said. “We’ve just got to be perfect from here out.”

Logano sits at the midpoint of the 26-race regular season, just 17th in the Cup Series standings. He’s 18th in the provisional playoffs order, 30 points outside the elimination line for the 16-driver postseason field.

RELATED: Logano tops in All-Star qualifying | North Wilkesboro schedule

Logano has gone the last five races without a top-10 finish; his lone top-five result of the year — a runner-up at Richmond — came at the end of March. His hopes for breaking out of his recent rough patch at Darlington Raceway last weekend were thwarted by a late-race penalty for speeding on pit road.

Logano managed to take away some positives as he closes out the month of May — his early Darlington strength, the learnings from a North Wilkesboro tire test, RFK Racing’s upswing as a fellow Ford team, and in Team Penske’s performance in the Coca-Cola 600 last year, when teammate Ryan Blaney claimed the laurels at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Those markers have fed some of his optimism for reversing his current slide.

“I mean, any given weekend, we can be right there,” Logano says. “I mean, we ran in the top five most of the race last week, so I feel solid about that. I feel solid about this weekend and Wilkesboro after the test here. I think we should be pretty strong. And Charlotte, yeah, who knows, right? Blaney had a really good run there last year. Maybe we can hit on something there, too. There’s no doubt the mile and a halfs have been a weakness of ours, but you also look at what RFK has done in the last couple of weeks and you say, ‘well, the opportunity’s there.’ We’ve just got to go find it. Whatever that is, we’ve got to figure that out.”