Joey Logano’s chances of making the playoffs via points took a huge hit at New Hampshire on Sunday.
Logano had to take his car to the garage after an apparent part failure in the rear suspension of the car caused the left-rear tire to rub against the body of the car.
After his team worked to get the car fixed, NASCAR then confiscated a truck arm from Logano’s car for further inspection.
Logano was able to return to the track but finished 32 laps down in 37th place.
“We just broke,” Logano said. “Plain and simple. It is not good, at all. Right now we are in the position where we have to execute. We have to finish the best as possible and we didn’t do that today. We have to go back to work and make sure our cars stay together and we have to get faster.”
[Denny Hamlin wins at New Hampshire]
Logano entered Sunday’s race seven points behind Matt Kenseth for the last spot in the playoff field on points. Because of the mechanical problem, he left New Hampshire 52 points behind Kenseth, who finished fourth.
Logano would be a near-automatic entry into the 2017 playoffs if it wasn’t for an inspection failure following his win at Richmond in April. Because his car failed post-race inspection, Logano’s win was “encumbered” in NASCAR vernacular, meaning he couldn’t use it to qualify for NASCAR’s win-and-in playoffs.
Now, with seven races remaining for the playoffs, Logano has nearly a full-race points gap to make up on Kenseth.
He can solve that by winning again — and his car passing inspection afterwards, of course. But Logano’s team hasn’t had race-winning speed recently. In the 10 races since that Richmond win, Logano has led a total of 17 laps.
Friday, Logano was adamant that the rear suspension penalty from Richmond (which involved a connection for a truck arm) didn’t have anything to do with his team’s recent struggles and pointed to three crashes over the most recent 10 races.
And while we have no reason to not believe him, we also have little reason to believe the No. 22 team’s form is close to being championship-worthy at the moment. Logano and his team need to find some speed. Soon.
“We were in this spot two times last year in the playoffs,” Logano said. “Must win. Back against the wall. We won both times. The team has it in them. We just have to get faster to be able to do that.”
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