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Monster Energy Series front-runners foiled by Stage 2 stack-up at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Tire trouble is problematic at any race track. That’s certainly true at Daytona International Speedway, and especially true when speeds top 190 mph.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch felt he had a tire going down, and it developed into a 10-car pile-up on Lap 72 at Daytona, wrecking not only the No. 18 but several other big names as well.

With brother Kurt Busch behind him as a drafting partner (and claiming he could smell something wrong with Kyle’s car), Kyle Busch spun high up on the track and came back down to trigger the melee. It also claimed Martin Truex Jr. (second in points), Joey Logano (playoff bubble), Austin Dillon and series points leader Kyle Larson, among others.

“I don’t even know where to start,” Kyle Busch said when asked to describe the damage to his car.

Truex Jr., Logano and Dillon were immediately ruled out of the race. Dillon blamed himself for getting caught up in the incident, which happened toward the end of Stage 2.

“I just saw the 18 spinning, and I had nowhere to go,” Dillon said. “You have to shove yourself into a bad position, but I was trying to get some bonus points there at the end of the stage.”

Implications may have been the highest for Logano, known as one of the better restrictor-plate racers in the garage and one who has slipped down the standings since his win at Richmond in April was ruled encumbered.

That victory cannot be used as an automatic entry into the playoff, and if Logano does qualify for the postseason, he will not be awarded five playoff points for the encumbered win.

Logano was scored 34th after being released from the infield care center. He entered the race seeded 15th in the 16-driver playoff field, with Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth close behind him in the standings.

The driver of the Team Penske No. 22 experienced a similar situation earlier in the day in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race when he fell from the lead — and drove through the infield grass — in the waning laps.

“Wrong place at the wrong time again for us,” Logano said. “It’s superspeedway racing. Sometimes you’re on the good side of it, sometimes you’re on the wrong side of it. That was the bad one.”