During Saturday’s final practice session, Joey Logano was ineligible to participate after the No. 22 Ford couldn’t pass pre-qualifying inspection. The Team Penske operation tried and failed four times on Friday, meaning Logano will start shotgun on the field.
That meant the two-time New Hampshire Motor Speedway winner was forced to sit in his No. 22 car for the entire 50-minute session, watching everyone else participate and make their cars better.
That left last year’s runner-up for the series championship frustrated. After the session, he spoke out about NASCAR’s push for more penalties this year.
“I had time for a lot of thoughts in there, mainly that it’s a total joke,” Logano said of the ruling. “I don’t know why [the car] has to be out on pit road. A penalty is a penalty. That’s fine, but there’s no reason to sit out there. I think it’s dumb, but that’s coming from a guy that just sat in a car for an hour sweating. That may not be the best thing to say, but it’s true.”
This season, NASCAR has upped the ante and dropped the hammer on teams who fail inspection throughout the weekend. During final practice, Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick, Ty Dillon, Corey LaJoie, Chase Elliott, Ryan Newman, Matt DiBenedetto, David Ragan and Jimmie Johnson all were docked 15 minutes.
Jamie McMurray, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, and Martin Truex Jr. were all penalized for a half-hour. But Logano is the first driver to not be able to participate in an entire practice due to an inspection issue.
“I think it makes our sport look dumb,” Logano said. “I do. Like I said, it’s kind of a joke. I don’t get it, personally. I think we can accomplish the same thing in a more professional manner.”
During the session, Logano was able to shake fan’s hands and even got a visit from wife Brittany. With the window net up, she put her hand through it, a gesture which also caused the driver to quip, “[It was] like I was in jail.”
However, for this team there may be a silver lining. Starting from 39th is exactly what Kyle Larson did in July and had one of the drives of the year, reaching the top five by the end of the opening stage. In the end, the No. 42 Chevy finished runner up to Denny Hamlin. Logano hopes to have the same fate, climbing just one position higher on Sunday to Victory Lane.
NASCAR declined to comment on why Logano failed inspection four times.