Joey Logano suffers another Chase setback as tire blows early at Texas

Team Penske’s Joey Logano’s day got off to a rocky start in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway — and when the checkered flag flew at the end of the race, his title hopes were more dire than ever.

Logano was running in the fourth spot on Lap 10 of 334 when the left-rear tire on the No. 22 Ford blew out going down the backstretch. As the tire blew out, it destroyed the left-rear quarter panel on the car, sending him spinning into Turn 3 and bringing out the first caution of the day.

While Logano initially took the car to the attention of his crew on pit road, it turned out his car needed extensive work on the left rear quarter panel, C-post and to replace the oil cooler which sent the team to the garage area.

Standing in the garage area as his crew was thrashing to make repairs, Logano said he had no indication the tire was going to come apart.

“It just blew apart off of Turn 2,” said Logano. “The left-rear tire came apart and shredded everything inside the car. It did a lot more damage than just the tire blowing apart.

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"I don’t know. We needed to win. We aren’t out of it, though. This team isn’t quitting yet. We will go out there and gain a couple points, which don’t mean anything but we will go to Phoenix and try to win that one. It is unfortunate. It just wasn’t in the plans today.”

Heading into the weekend, Logano was eighth in the Chase standings after Matt Kenseth wrecked him while leading at Martinsville Speedway last week.

With his issues early in the going Sunday at Texas, Logano’s championship hopes will come down to a must-win situation in next weekend’s Chase elimination race at Phoenix International Raceway.

“It isn’t about points for us. Points don’t mean anything right now,” he said. “It is all about wins. That was our goal today going into the race. The car didn’t take off bad and we were going to get to lap 25 and make some adjustments like everyone else would and I thought we were in the ballpark at least. I thought we were a little better at the 18 (Kyle Busch) at the time, we just needed to get around him. It just came apart.

“It seems like there are a lot of issues right now,” he continued. “I don’t know what the deal is with everything coming out of the blue. I am not sure what happened to the 11 (Denny Hamlin) and the 21 (Ryan Blaney) and it looked the the 4 (Kevin Harvick) just blew one out, too.”

Hamlin was forced to the garage with fuel-pump issues, Blaney hit the wall on the second run of the day and Harvick ran over a piece of debris, cutting the right rear tire. Unlike Logano, Harvick’s tire did not come apart and he was able to continue without issue.

After extensive repairs, Logano was able to return to the track on Lap 76 in the 43rd spot, more than 60 laps down from the race leaders. With Blaney, Tony Stewart and Alex Bowman all having issues, Logano was able to gain three spots to finish 40th at the end of the day, 66 laps down.

Entering the day 28 points behind the Chase cutoff, Logano heads to next week’s elimination race at Phoenix International Raceway 63 points behind Martin Truex Jr. in fourth.