BROKEN GEAR ENDS LOGANO’S HOPES OF A REDEEMING DAY IN BACK-UP CAR
Fontana, Calif. – (March 23, 2014) - Joey Logano qualified his Team Penske Ford Fusion seventh for Sunday’s Auto Club 400. By getting to the final round of the new knockout qualifying format for the fourth consecutive race, Logano joined teammate Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson as the only drivers to accomplish that feat to start the year.
In Saturday afternoon’s final practice session, Logano suffered a cut a left front tire and made contact with the wall as a result. The damage forced the team to go to their backup car for the start of the race, which relegated Logano to a 41st-place starting position at the drop of the green flag.
As the race began, Logano showed the backup car was just as fast as the primary as he made quick work in getting through the field. Logano broke into the top 20 by lap 15 and found himself 13th after the first round of pit stops. Logano radioed to the team that the car was fast and the handling wasn’t far off. With just minor adjustments and fresh tires stop after stop, Logano entered the top 10 for the first time on lap 60.
He continued his charge through the field, racing his way to third place on lap 91. Crew Chief Todd Gordon informed Logano that the Auto Club Ford Fusion was the fastest car on the track and it was catching the leaders at a rate of nearly three-tenths of a second per lap. However, on lap 114, Logano told the team that something broke in the rear of the No. 22 Team Penske machine as he began to coast around the track. Once the car was behind the wall, the team diagnosed the problem as a broken rear end gear. The team fixed the issue and lost just 10 laps in the process.
Back out on the track, Logano ran solid laps and he was able to pick up one more spot and come home in 39th place at the finish. “The first laps in the car, we drove all the way up to third just tuning it in as we went,” said Logano. “It was fast. It was real fast. I honestly think we had a shot at winning this one. We just kept making small little adjustments and driving up through the field. The car was actually handling really well. We got to third and we were starting actually to run down the leaders. Then I’m going into turn one and something just breaks. I knew it was in the rear end, but wasn’t sure what. Thankfully we were able to fix it, but the damage was done at that point. The rest of the day was just experimenting and keeping the car out of trouble.”
The result dropped Logano to 10th in the Sprint Cup Series point standings. He now trails the leader by 40 points heading into next week’s race at Martinsville.