By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Joey Logano’s afternoon at ISM Raceway in Phoenix ended early Sunday after his left rear tire went down, spinning out and made contact with the Turn 2 wall, finishing 37th.
The self-proclaimed championship favorite after locking himself into the Championship 4 with a win at Martinsville, struggled for pace in stage one after starting from the ninth position, crossing the line in 20th while his Penske teammates finished in the top-five.
On Lap 97, Logano’s day took a turn for the worst when his No. 22 Pennzoil Ford Fusion lost control in the middle of the dogleg. An attempt to keep his car off the wall didn’t pan out as the nose hit the wall. Then his car was stuck, unable to bring it back into the pits, and for the first time since Watkins Glen in August, he’ll retire from the race.
Logano said he didn’t feel a tire was going down and was unsure what led to the early exit.
“The left-rear tire went flat. I don’t really know why. It just kind of came out of nowhere,” said Logano. “We may have run something over, I don’t know. I went down on the flat a couple laps earlier to make a pass and I don’t know if it hit a little bit hard, maybe it knocked the fender into it, who knows what happened there, but she just went out.
“I tried to save it,” said Logano. “I thought I had it saved, but by the time I got it straightened back out the rest of the tires were flat because I had them flat-spotted. That’s what it is. We’ll move on.”
Despite being Logano’s third retirement of the season, it won’t dampen his confident spirit, knowing that he’s already made it to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 18 for the third time in his career.
“I’m just taking a flat line on this one. Like I said, there’s nothing I could do different,” said Logano. “There’s nothing my team could do different, so there’s really nothing to get depressed about. We’re just staying confident and keeping our heads high because I still feel like we’ve got a great shot at winning this championship when we get to Miami. This doesn’t affect anything.”