Engine failure halts Logano’s fast start
September 15, 2013, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com
JOLIET, Ill. -- Joey Logano’s debut appearance in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup had started off so well.
The Penske Racing driver won the Coors Light Pole for the playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway and led the opening 32 laps on the 1.5-mile track. But after a five-hour rain delay and a subsequent flurry of cautions that jumbled the field, Logano began falling back with what was soon diagnosed as an engine problem.
With two cylinders down, Logano stayed in the race as long as he could -- until the engine let go on Lap 176, sending its driver to the garage area and toward the bottom of a Chase field that was expanded to 13 drivers this week with addition of Jeff Gordon.
“I am pretty angry,” Logano said. “That was such a fast race car we had. After the rain delay, we came in and put on four tires and lost some track position, but we were going to take two on the next one ... Unfortunately, the motor blew up. You have these every once in awhile. It is 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. We have a really fast race car and we put it on the pole and led laps today. It just wasn’t our day I guess.”
The start of the race was delayed almost 90 minutes by weather, and Logano was third when the race was halted again for rain -- this time for five hours and 10 minutes. On Lap 145 he began falling back, and during a caution for a Justin Allgaier spin radioed to his team that he thought he had a cylinder down. Smoke began emanating from the vehicle, and Logano went to pit road where his team went under the hood of the No. 22.
“Run it until they make you park it,” he was told by his team, and down two cylinders he did just that, barely able to maintain minimum speed. Finally the engine had enough, and it let go on a night that had turned very cool -- very different conditions than what teams had anticipated out of a race that was scheduled to begin in the early afternoon. Brian Vickers, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin also retired with apparent engine failures spanning all three manufacturers on NASCAR's top series.
“When the temps outside go down and you are making more horsepower, you are going a lot faster on the race track,” Logano said. “I was having to lift early into (Turn 1) because I was up against the chip. It was a lot of RPMs. I don’t think I will be the last one to blow up today. The things are torqued up. It was OK most of the time. We haven’t really had an engine issue that was internal in the motor this whole year. Usually we have one or two a year.”
Crew chief Todd Gordon said it was less a matter of temperature than it was speed. “Track’s pretty fast,” he said. “Lot of RPM.”
Logano was far from the only championship contender to battle problems on a Sunday afternoon and evening when most of the Chase field experienced issues. But Logano’s was terminal, and it occurred while most of the field was still on the race track, and it was a series blow to his hopes of winning the Sprint Cup title his first time in the Chase.
“The problem is it is only 10 races, and that makes it hard, but we aren’t out of it,: Logano said. “We have a shot at it. This team has shown how good we are. It is always a bummer when you have a mechanical failure like that when you can’t really do much about it. Other times you can at least be mad at yourself or something you did wrong. Everyone did a good job. That is what we have to hold our heads up about. 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.”