Logano hates view from parked car

Driver says penalty, a first, ‘makes our sport look dumb.’

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - SPORTS -

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.

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