Logano hates view from parked car
Driver says penalty, a first, ‘makes our sport look dumb.’
LOUDON, N.H. — Joey Logano didn’t like spending Saturday in NASCAR’s penalty box.
Logano was forced to strap in, put on his helmet and sit on pit road in the No. 22 Ford for the duration of a 50-minute Cup Series practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. NASCAR punished Logano and his Team Penske crew because the car failed inspection four times before Friday’s aborted qualifying attempt.
NASCAR routinely holds out cars for allotted periods during practice for various infractions — Martin Truex Jr. sat out 30 minutes Saturday for infractions last week. But NASCAR said this was the first time a Cup driver was parked for an entire practice.
“I had time for a lot of thoughts in there,” Logano said. “Mainly that it’s a total joke. I don’t know why it has to be on pit road. There’s no reason to sit out there. It’s dumb.”
Logano sipped from a water bottle, shook hands with fans and some snapped selfies with the car.
“I just think it makes our sport look dumb,” he said. “I think we can accomplish the same thing in a more professional manner.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., long NASCAR’s most popular driver, tweeted that it was “silly” to make Logano sit on pit road.
“I’ve no issue with making him miss practice. Him sitting on pit road with what amounts to wearing a dunce hat is highly unnecessary,” Earnhardt tweeted.
Kurt Culbert, NASCAR’s managing director for communications, tweeted that the rules say “the practice hold is to be held on pit road.” Teams signed off on the escalating punishment structure in the offseason and knew the consequences, he said.
Logano’s real punishment is starting last in today’s race, the second of the 10-race playoff. He finished second in the 2016 championship but failed to make the playoffs this season.
Logano’s lone win, which normally would have guaranteed a playoff spot, had no such benefit because of a rear suspension violation.
One positive: Logano had a brief visit with his pregnant wife, Brittany, while he sat and watched.
“She put her hand on the window net and I put my hand on the other side and she was laughing because it was like we were in jail,” Logano said, laughing. “I said, ‘It’s kind of like that, actually.’”
Trucks: Christopher Bell, the regular-season champion, passed Ryan Truex with 15 laps left at New Hampshire and earned his fifth victory of the season in the playoff opener. Bell, driving a Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, led 73 of 175 laps and was the only playoff driver in the top five. Playoff driver Matt Crafton was sixth.