When Joey Logano won the Richmond race two weeks ago, he thought he had an automatic pass into the playoffs. A post-inspection found a violation of the rear suspension on his Penske Ford resulting in a penalty which makes the win “encumbered” and therefore will not count toward qualifying him for a playoff spot.
Other drivers have suffered the “encumbered” penalty, but Logano’s is the first by a race winner. For the record books, Logano keeps the victory, prize money and trophy, but he is docked 25 driver points. Crew chief Todd Gordon is also fined $50,000 and is suspended for two races, and 25 points are deducted for team owner Roger Penske.
If Logano should make the playoffs, the five playoff points that normally would come with a victory would not apply for his Richmond triumph — even though the official race record will still list Logano as the race winner. Penske Racing will not appeal the penalty.
Some fans are asking why NASCAR does not strip Logano entirely. Taking a win away from a team does not happen in sports that often. It hasn’t been done in NASCAR since 1955 (Fireball Roberts, who had an illegal engine).
Last Sunday’s race in Talladega was good for the fans as they saw Ricky Stenhouse Jr. win his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. There were only three single-car cautions during the first 161 laps. There were 26 lead changes among 14 drivers with Kyle Busch leading the most laps at 48.
With 19 laps to go, the “big one” finally happened with 18 cars being involved. A.J. Allmendinger started the mess as he got into the left rear of Chase Elliott coming off the exit of Turn 2. Allmendinger’s car ended upside down but he came away unscathed.
Altogether, nearly a dozen cars failed to finish as a result of the crash, many of them contending for the win.
Points leader Kyle Larson had problems early in the race and went down a lap. Late in the race he received a “lucky dog” and ended up finishing 12th. When Truex was taken out in the “big one” Larson was able to expand his lead up to 54 points. Keselowski moved up two places to third in points after a 7th-place finish and a stage 1 victory. Elliott dropped to 4th in points after being taken out in the “big one.” Elliott finished 30th. After being docked 25 penalty points, Logano dropped to 5th.
None of the drivers blamed anyone for the big wreck as they were expecting it. Restrictor plate racing promotes the “big one,” but an interesting comment was made by one of the eliminated drivers when he commented that they go to a real racetrack next week.