A jammed-up start to Stage 2 sidelined Daniel Suárez and collected Joey Logano during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway.
Suárez was in the lower groove when the field clogged up entering the first turn on the 36th of a scheduled 160 laps in Sunday’s HighPoint.com 400. His No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet made heavy nose-first contact with the outside wall in Turn 1, and Suárez limped his car back to the pits for repairs. He made one more lap before the No. 99 team opted to park the damaged No. 99 for the rest of the day.
Suárez, who was evaluated and released at the track’s infield care center, entered Sunday’s 400-miler just one point below the provisional elimination line in the pursuit of a berth in the 16-driver NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs field. He unofficially dropped to minus-23 points relative to the elimination line with five races left in the regular season.
“I don’t know exactly how it happened and everything, but all I know is that we’re out of the race, and that’s not great,” said Suárez, who was saddled with his worst finish of the season — last in the 36-car field. “At the end of the day, I think there’s nobody to blame but ourselves. I don’t think we should have been racing in the back like we were. We’re much better than that. We just missed the balance of the car in the first stage and were just making some adjustments to make it better. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try it.”
Logano won Stage 1 but restarted in 17th place after a shuffle of pit stops. His No. 22 Team Penske Ford was snagged in the logjam and made significant contact with the outside retaining wall in Turn 1. Logano’s car was towed back to pit road, and the defending Cup Series champion returned to the race six laps down.
IN-CAR: Ride with Logano on wild spin
Logano’s crumpled car was later black-flagged for failing to meet the minimum-speed requirement. He led 21 laps, completed 48 laps and finished 35th, just ahead of Suárez.
“Just a lot of jostling, for sure,” Logano said of the crash’s factors. “I had a run down the center, which is great, and that was gonna put me in a really good spot into Turn 1, and my car fired off really well in Turn 1. We’ve seen that in the restart before that, so I felt real confident about putting myself in a tough position because I knew my car could handle well, and it just started squeezing up, and when I came back up to avoid the cars on the inside the outside of me, I had to check up just a little bit and it just got the 34 (Michael McDowell) into my right-rear. It turns so quick that there’s no chance of saving it, just turn it around, and then you kind of slide and hope not to get hit, which, luckily, no one hit me, but the wall did enough damage.”