FORT WORTH, Texas — It’s never good in NASCAR when a car blows its engine. Even more so when it happens in one of the three Round of 8 Cup Series’ postseason races and that team is fighting for its playoff lives.
For Joey Logano, his engine expiring with 34 laps to go at Texas Motor Speedway was the first time the No. 22 Ford blew an engine since the first race at Pocono Raceway in 2014. Over seven years!
Of course, the Roush Yates engine expiring came at an inopportune time, as the No. 22 team entered the round seventh on the playoff grid.
“I thought it was starting to maybe give up a little bit of power in that run,” Logano said when talking to media on Sunday. “We were just getting passed. It just kind of let go.
“Roush Yates has built us good motors. I don’t have any room to complain. We haven’t blown one up in years. At least not on the [No.] 22 car. It is bad timing, I will say that, but it is what it is.”
The engine blew just a few laps after contact with Denny Hamlin. And while that wasn’t ideal either, the No. 22 team had battled back to run inside the top 10 after having its pit strategy go awry in the opening stage.
Because of that, Logano finished 14th in Stage 1. During the second stage, the No. 22 car battled inside the top 10, but fell to 12th by the conclusion of the stage, collecting zero stage points on the afternoon.
Then, the engine letting go awarded Logano a grand total of seven points on the afternoon, finishing 30th.
“It was a grind,” Logano said of the day. “We had a good start of the race and rode it up there to second and then we put two tires on and the car got real loose and we lost track position that run. We started making gains and we had a caution that fell right after we pitted and put us down a lap at the wave around.
“We came back from the rear three times throughout the race. I’d like to know how we would be if we just picked it up and put it in a top-three spot. Not many points today, so that is a bummer. We will be fighting from here.”
In order to be part of the championship battle at Phoenix Raceway in three weeks, Logano knows he will have to win at either Kansas Speedway next weekend or Martinsville Speedway to close the round. The No. 22 team sits shotgun on the eight-team playoff field, 43 points below the cutline.
With Logano knowing he must win, it makes life a bit simpler. The No. 22 team just needs to execute a full race.
“We have to win, that’s the bottom line now,” Logano said. “There’s no argument that you’re going to make it on points after you don’t score any stage points and finish [30th]. There’s only one thing you’ve got to do from here. All or nothing.”
Last year, Logano punched his ticket to the Championship 4 by winning at Kansas. In 2018, he earned his way to the championship race by winning at Martinsville.