Already on the ropes Joey Logano’s hopes for a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship suffered another setback Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. Logano was running inside the top five of the AAA Texas 500 Sunday when on lap 9 a left rear tire exploded.
The remnants of the tire caused extensive damage to the rear of his Penske Ford and Logano spun entering turn 3. The first caution of the race waved as Logano slowly made his way to pit road. The crew attempted repairs and Logano was able to stay on the lead lap. After several tries however it was obvious the damage was too severe and Logano was forced to the garage.
“It just blew apart off of turn two,” Logano said as the crew worked to repair the car. “The left rear tire came apart and shredded everything inside the car. It did a lot more damage than just the tire blowing apart.”
The incident came a week after Logano suffered a bad finish at Martinsville. Logano was the class of the field at Martinsville leading 207 laps, but on lap 455, Matt Kenseth who had issues with Logano at Kansas Speedway, crashed Logano. Kenseth was eventually suspended for two races, but Logano came into Texas at the bottom of the Chase grid.
“We needed to win,” Logano said. “We aren’t out of it though. This team isn’t quitting yet. We will go out there and gain a couple points, which don’t mean anything but we will go to Phoenix and try to win that one. It is unfortunate. It just wasn’t in the plans today.”
Logano did return to the race on lap 77, 63 laps down. He finished 40th. Logano knows that points racing next week at Phoenix won’t be in the cards for the Penske Racing team.
“ Points don’t mean anything right now. It is all about wins,” Logano said. “That was our goal today going into the race. The car didn’t take off bad and we were going to get to lap 25 and make some adjustments like everyone else would and I thought we were in the ballpark at least. I thought we were a little better at the 18 at the time, we just needed to get around him. It just came apart.”
Several other drivers had tire issues, with some of the blame on the lack of practice on Saturday. With wet track issues on Saturday, NASCAR was forced to cancel both practices. The last time Sprint Cup cars were on the track was on Friday. Among those also having tire issues were Ryan Blaney, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick. Earnhardt and Harvick suffered little damage, Harvick finished third. After his tire issue on lap 48 while running fifth, Earnhardt later smacked the wall, then spun on lap 167, but rallied and eventually ended the day sixth. Blaney was forced to retire after smacking the wall and finished 43rd.
Jimmie Johnson took the lead from Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski, who led a race record 312 laps, with three laps to go to win. Both Logano and Keselowski are now below the Chase cutoff with one race to go in the Eliminator round.