The Champ Is Out: Logano Ousted From Playoffs

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Joey Logano Sunday at ISM Raceway. (Ivan Veldhuizen Photo)
Joey Logano Sunday at ISM Raceway. (Ivan Veldhuizen Photo)

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Midway through Sunday’s Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway, Joey Logano looked like a likely candidate to be racing for a championship next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Unfortunately for Logano, things took a turn for the worse.

The reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion struggled with the handling in his No. 22 Ford Mustang after battling eventual race winner Denny Hamlin for the lead. The handling got so bad that Logano went a lap down, all but ending any chance he had at winning the race.

“It wasn’t five or six laps in that I realized I was quite a bit tighter than what I was and I just was relying on clean air, and then it just got tighter, tighter and tighter,” Logano said. “Once you start abusing the right-front tire with a car that’s tight it just drops off in a hurry and got to a point where I couldn’t pass the lapped cars out there because I was one.  I noticed it pretty quick, but there’s not much you can do about it when it’s green out there and you have a risk of going down a few laps I guess.”

Logano managed to get back on the lead lap and finish ninth by the time the checkered flag waved. That was little solace for Logano, who was bounced from the playoffs thanks to Hamlin’s victory.

Logano admitted he had no idea what caused his car’s handling to take such a drastic turn.

“I don’t know. I have no idea,” Logano said. “It went from a really good car to a car that couldn’t stay on the lead lap with changing tires and a half pound of air. A lot of things don’t line up there. That doesn’t make any sense. The car shouldn’t do that, but it did and once we put tires back on it we got to where we could run competitive at least again, but we were so far back and I was running so hard trying to get back to the 11 that we ended up using it up again.

“We just needed a caution at the right time and we didn’t get it to try to get back up there.  It stinks. We did the first half of the race really well. We had a fast car. We scored a ton of stage points and to the point that we could tie the 18 and all I had to do was finish in front of him, which was the goal, and it went bad from there.”

“I don’t get it, but it just wasn’t our year I guess. I don’t know what to say.”