By David Morgan, NASCAR Contributor
On a scorching hot day at Phoenix Raceway, temperatures in the mid 90’s wreaked havoc with brake heat and tire issues as a couple of big names had their days come to an early end as a result.
The first of those drivers to have their day end short of the finish was Matt Kenseth, who qualified 12th for the Camping World 500 and ended final practice in second place, so there was hope that the team could score a third straight top-10 finish after starting the season with a DNF at Daytona. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed with 121 laps to go.
As he was battling an ill-handling race car throughout the day, Kenseth’s right-front tire let go coming off of Turn 4, sending him hard into the outside SAFER barrier. Kenseth would emerge from the car unscathed and was checked and released from the Infield Care Center, but his car was another story as it sustained major damage in the impact and his day was done, relegating him to a 37th place finish.
“We just blew a front tire,” Kenseth said. We kind of struggled with our Tide PODS Camry most of the day. We got a little bit better that run, but we weren’t handling the way we needed to for sure and just ended up failing a front tire.”
Though Kenseth was the first to have a right-front tire fail, he was certainly not the last.
Joey Logano, who started the race on the pole and won the first stage, looked to be well on his way to putting the post-race fight at Las Vegas last week behind him with 82 laps led, but after falling behind in the second and final stages, he was struggling to make it back to the front after a pit road speeding penalty as his car didn’t handle as well in traffic.
While running 14th with six laps to go, Logano suffered the same fate as Kenseth as his right-front tire let go entering Turn 1, sending his No. 22 Ford hard into the outside wall. Though he was able to limp the car back to pit road, the damage was too severe to fix and his day was done.
When the checkered flag flew, Logano came home in 31st place.
“The brakes are fine, we just blew a right front,” said Logano. “Probably just overheated the bead. I am sure that is what it was. There is not much you can do when the right front blows out. We had a good car in the beginning of the race and then just fell off and got a pit road speeding penalty and it was hard to get back up there. We were getting closer but out long run speed was off. We have to figure out how to get faster here on the long run.”
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