UPS Game-Changing Moments: Texas
April 07, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com
LOGANO PASSES GORDON FOR THE WIN
Joey Logano won the Duck Commander 500 under a green-white-checkered, expanding the number of drivers to win a race this season to seven. Logano looked primed for a victory with teammate Brad Keselowski behind him when Kurt Busch shredded a tire, drawing out the seventh and final caution of the day.
Logano restarted in third, with Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers winning the race off pit road by only taking two tires. Logano's fresh tires would give him the edge, regaining the lead position and taking the checkered flag.
Kyle Busch won the battle for third, with Vickers a position behind him.
FIRE ENDS DAY EARLY FOR EARNHARDT JR.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn't mince words despite the disappointment and frustration so apparent on his face from his short day as he walked out of the Texas Motor Speedway infield care center only 12 laps into Monday's rain-delayed Duck Commander 500.
"Just a mistake on my part, didn't know I was that close to the grass," Earnhardt said shaking his head.
Although Earnhardt insisted he was fine physically, the single-car accident looked frightening as his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet's left side tires drove through the wet, slick infield grass and turned hard back up the track -- flames shooting out of the car as it made hard contact with the outside wall. While some drivers had reported damp spots on the 1.5-mile Texas high banks, Earnhardt was adamant that he didn't consider it a concern.
"It didn't have anything to do with what happened to me, I just ran into the grass on the apron," Earnhardt said. "I was following the 43 (Aric Almirola) and just couldn't see the grass, how close I was.
"I thought I was taking a decent line by the dogleg, I was getting around the 42 (Kyle Larson) so was lower than normal, but I just misjudged it."
It was definitely not the ending Earnhardt envisioned after sitting through an entire day's rain delay on Sunday only to crash on the second lap of green flag racing Monday. But more significantly, Earnhardt came to Fort Worth as the Sprint Cup Series points leader -- by nine points over Matt Kenseth -- thanks to a Daytona 500 victory and four top-three finishes in the first six races.
ENGINE FAILURE COSTLY FOR HARVICK
Kevin Harvick exited Monday’s Duck Commander 500 after just 28 laps of the scheduled 334-lap event due to a blown engine in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.
The race, originally scheduled for Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, was delayed one day due to inclement weather.
"Something happened with the engine right after that restart," Harvick said. "The Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS was really fast. It’s frustrating. I don’t know what else I can say. I didn’t get any indication that anything was going wrong. Hendrick engines are among the fastest and most reliable engines in the garage. We’ll take it back to the shop and figure out what happened. But that’s a disappointing end to the day."
The resulting 42nd-place finish was the latest setback for the veteran driver, who won earlier this year at Phoenix International Raceway but has battled mechanical problems of various sorts in several of this year’s first seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events.
Following his Phoenix win, Harvick was saddled with a 41st-place finish the following week in Las Vegas due to a left front hub failure.
At Bristol, it was a cut oil line late in the race resulted in a 39th-place finish.
Tire problems, which impacted several teams at Auto Club Speedway, derailed Harvick as well, and left him 36th at day’s end.
Although he scored a seventh-place finish at Martinsville, Harvick and his team had their share of issues there as well -- one of two chains connected to the rear tires broke and resulted slower pit stops and a loss of track position each time Harvick came onto pit road.