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Bowyer feels late playoff pressure

By Matt Crossman, NASCAR Wire Service

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Distributed by The Sports Xchange

Clint Bowyer enters Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway (on NBCSN at 3 p.m. ET) 17th in points, 28 behind Matt Kenseth for the final playoff spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points race.

To qualify for the postseason, he must either pass Kenseth and hope nobody below him wins, or win himself.

With four races left until the postseason starts, intensity is amped-up at Michigan International Speedway, the 2-mile oval an hour-plus from the birthplace of America's automotive industry.

"There's always pressure," Bowyer said. "There's pressure in the Daytona 500 to go out there and perform and try to win that race. It's no different now. You still focus on the task at hand. You focus on unloading a fast racecar, making good downforce, making good horsepower."

But a fast car that handles well might not be enough. Bowyer and his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford team will likely take big chances to try to steal a win.

"I'm the hunter not the hunted, so it's a lot of fun to go into this weekend knowing that you've got to go out there and chase that guy down, or chase those guys down and hopefully pop off a win here."

In Bowyer's 23 series starts at Michigan, he has posted 11 top-10 finishes.

LARSON'S ACTION-PACKED SCHEDULE ISN'T SLOWING

After a dominating win on Wednesday night at Knoxville Nationals, Kyle Larson faced a dilemma.

He had qualified for the prestigious A-main finals of one of the premiere dirt races in the world. The problem was the race was set for Saturday night, and his contract with Chip Ganassi Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series forbids him from racing on dirt the day before he has to drive the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, be it qualifying, practice or the race.

On Thursday, he appeared with Ganassi at an event in downtown Detroit unveiling the Camaro ZL1 as Chevrolet's entry in next year's 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

On the drive to the airport afterward, Larson tried to talk Ganassi into allowing an exception. The team owner voiced his concerns -- the contract language exists to make sure Larson is fresh and to give the team time to find a replacement if he gets injured.

With Larson and other team officials pleading Larson's case, Ganassi ultimately relented, and now Larson will race in the event in Knoxville, Iowa on Saturday to try to put an exclamation point at the end of what he calls his favorite week of racing of the year. He finished fifth in the event last year.

"I'm thankful for Chip to even allow me to do what I get to do right now," Larson says. "It's especially nice that he's making an exception for Saturday night."

Larson expects to fly to Iowa after his responsibilities at Michigan International Speedway end on Saturday afternoon. He will race at night and fly back to Michigan after that. He doesn't have to be anywhere at MIS until 11:30 Sunday morning. "I'll still be able to get plenty of sleep and be ready," he said.

Larson has won two races in a row at Michigan.

LOGANO, WIFE LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING PARENTS

Joey Logano is on the outside looking in of the playoffs, and as such he has a lot on his mind. Shocks, springs, camber, downforce, diapers, dump trucks, ice cream cravings ...

In addition to fighting to salvage his season, Logano and his wife, Brittany, are expecting their first child, a son. Logano's teammate Brad Keselowski bought Logano a book, "Dude, You're Gonna Be a Dad!" by John Pfeiffer. In addition to reading that, Logano has been immersed in the pre-dad life.

"We did the registering, which was way more than I ever thought it would be and way harder than I thought it would be," Logano said on Friday at Michigan International Speedway. "I was over in the corner scanning all the toys. 'Cool, a dump truck. He needs a dump truck.'"

He said Brittany has been craving ice cream, of all flavors, which is fine by him because he eats it, too.

"It's gonna be fun, but really, you don't know what you don't know sometimes," Logano said. "Just like when I started Cup racing. I didn't know what I was doing, and this is gonna kind of be the same thing. I don't know if any parent really knows exactly what they're doing the first time they had a kid."

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC.
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