Runs of bad luck are hard to shake

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Although Joey Logano seemingly has hit every pothole during the first eight races of the Sprint Cup Series season, car owner Joe Gibbs refuses to believe in racing luck.

A loose lug nut isn't the result of bad luck; it's the result of somebody not doing their job. Flat tires happen to everyone. Cars get bumped on pit road all the time. And nobody is exempt from accidents.

For Logano, however, if it's bad, it's already happened to him. And his run of bad luck seemed to reach a zenith last week at Talladega, Ala., when he was spun out by his own teammate.

"Coach (Joe Gibbs) doesn't believe in luck at all. 'You make your own,' I guess he likes to say," Kyle Busch said. "When you look at Joey Logano and the way his year started out is just terrible. It's nothing that he's done wrong. I guess you could say that you do make your own luck."

Some drivers seem to avoid bad things better than others. Jimmie Johnson, for example, rarely has problems on race day because he's usually ahead of the troublemakers at the back of the pack.

Others have been defined by their luck, including Dale Earnhardt's long and frustrating struggle to win the Daytona 500. He blew a tire while leading on the final lap in 1990. He ran out of gas in 1986, and he struck a bird on the backstretch in 1991. The impact punched a hole in his front bumper.

Most of those memories were erased when he won the race in 1998 -- his 20th attempt, but his anomalous Daytona legacy was sealed on Feb. 18, 2001, when he became the only driver in track history to die in the 500.

Whether a driver believes in luck -- good or bad -- they all agree it's more difficult to break a run of bad finishes than it is to stay up front.

Martin Truex Jr. has had a run of bad luck that's stretched over two seasons. It's impossible for him to hide his frustration.

"It takes a million things to go right to win of these races; it only takes one to go wrong -- a flat tire, the caution coming at the wrong time, a debris caution after you pit under green -- things like that," he said.

While he believes in luck, Clint Bowyer said skill and preparation can erase a lot of bad luck.

"If it comes down to a judgment call on the track, I'd rather be lucky," he said.

Logano is ready to try anything to get back on track. A couple women rubbed Logano's head to give him good luck before pole qualifying at Southern California in March. He qualified third.

They weren't around on race day, however, and he finished 25th.

Reach Don Coble at don.coble@morris.com.

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