Posted September 16, 2013 on
AP on Fox
Joey Logano went from the front to the back of the pack in the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
The pole-sitter was forced to drop out of Sunday's rain-delayed race at Chicagoland Speedway when his engine quit with 91 laps remaining. About 50 laps later, Dale Earnhardt Jr., another Chase qualifier, wound up following him onto pit road with a race-ending problem of his own.
Logano finished 37th, a tough start to NASCAR's 10-race, season-ending playoff series.
''I am pretty angry,'' Logano said. ''That was such a fast race car we had.''
Logano qualified for the Chase for the first time this year, and was embroiled in the scandal-plagued race at Richmond last weekend. After a wide-ranging investigation, NASCAR officials punished Michael Waltrip Racing for its role in manipulating the race.
Logano wound up benefiting from the maneuvers by other drivers trying to aid a teammate. His Penske Racing team was placed on probation Friday for its role in bargaining for track position at Richmond to get Logano in the Chase.
But Logano's problems Sunday night were all on the track. He had gone to pit road once before his exit, complaining of cylinder problems with his Ford.
''Unfortunately the motor blew up. You have these every once in a while,'' said Logano, teammate of defending series champion Brad Keselowski. ''It's a bummer to have it in the Chase when you are running for a championship. I feel like Chicago was one of those tracks we could win at. Everyone was doing the right thing. ... It just wasn't our day I guess.''
The question going forward is whether Logano can make up the deficit. Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson finished 39th in the 2006 playoff opener and came back to win the title. But he only dropped to ninth in what was a 10-driver qualifying field at the time; Logano will head to the next Chase race in last in the 13-driver field.
''Everyone did a good job. That is what we have to hold our heads up about,'' he said. ''It is a tough break for this team. We are strong. We have battled through a lot of adversity this year and we will keep doing it.''
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Joey Logano was the first championship contender to post a DNF in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the second.
After a five-hour rain delay, engine issues cropped up for Logano, the pole-sitter at Chicagoland Speedway, around the fourth caution on Lap 148 on Sunday night.
The Penske Racing driver reported a cylinder going down. After hanging on to the lead...
If the plan was to spot the competition a lead, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Joey Logano have their rivals right where they want them. Both got off to a miserable start in the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Logano, the pole-sitter, was forced to drop out of Sunday's rain-delayed race at Chicagoland Speedway when his engine quit with 91 laps remaining. He...
John Harrelson/NASCAR via Getty Images
Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway was a long one. The race started late due to rain, drivers then got less than half way before another five hour delay due to more rain. When the rain finally left the area — NASCAR started the long process of drying the track — which pushed the normal day race into a late night race under the lights...
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Half of the four cars that were involved in the Richmond cheating scandal developed issues once the racing resumed Sunday night.
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