NASCAR Martinsville Auto Racing

Joey Logano, right, shares a laugh with a crew member in the garage at Martinsville Speedway In Martinsville, Va., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. Elliott had an engine failure less than five minutes into the opening practice for the third round of NASCAR's playoffs. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Mooresville-based Team Penske driver Joey Logano nearly won the regular season championship.

After being relegated to runner-up status, Logano is still vying to become the first back-to-back champion since Jimmie Johnson won five consecutive Monster Energy Series titles from 2006-2010.

Logano is in fourth place in the standings heading to Phoenix’s ISM Raceway, site of Sunday’s running of the Bluegreen Vacation 500.

The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford will need an improved outing this fall at the newly reconfigured Phoenix one-miler.

Last year Logano finished 37th at Phoenix — but held a position in the Championship 4 because of a win at Martinsville earlier in the round.

Logano bounced back with a 10th-place run at Phoenix this March but it’s his only top 10 in the last five races at the track. His previous top 10 was his only victory there in 2016. Since then he’s had a pair of DNFs. In 21 starts, Logano has four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes at Phoenix.

“It’s going to be a good battle for sure,’’ Logano said. “We are racing for that last spot just in case someone behind us outside of the Top-4 wins. It will be a good time.

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