Corey LaJoie spun out ahead of Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford. Sliding across the track, LaJoie collected several other drivers, including Joey Logano, who was unable to continue and had to retire from the race on Lap 262 out of 500.
Logano, who clinched the Cup championship in both 2018 and 2022, encountered difficulties right from the start.
Corey LaJoie’s unexpected spin had a massive impact on Joey Logano’s championship hopes at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
Despite commencing the race from a low grid position and failing to secure any stage points, he had a 12-point cushion entering the race. Thus, he preserved his championship aspirations despite a disappointing performance.
Regrettably for Logano, luck did not favor him. Just beyond the race’s midpoint, he ultimately finished in 34th place.
Corey LaJoie turned the tide against him, hoping that misfortune would also strike his playoff competitors, but that never came to pass.
According to Motorsports.com, Joey Logano said:
“Obviously, it’s a real bummer. You get out of the race like that and you’re behind the wall and you’re in denial for a minute. You don’t want to believe that it happened and you want to think that it’s fixable, but the car was torn up too.”
At Bristol, Logano found himself among the quartet of drivers ousted from the playoffs, and he wasn’t the sole Cup champion to see his 2023 title hopes fade away.
“I knew my situation and what I needed to do, but it’s Bristol and there’s not many things you do differently depending on your scenario. There’s nothing I could have done there in that wreck”
Corey LaJoie, though unintentional in his role as a game-changer, had inadvertently altered the course of the playoffs.
Kevin Harvick, who is in his last full-time racing season before stepping back, also experienced elimination. The 2014 Cup champion played no significant role throughout the race, ultimately finishing the evening in 29th place and trailing by five laps.
“We had the chance to secure a victory at Darlington, our performance was subpar” – Kevin Harvick
Logano got caught up in an on-track mishap, and Harvick struggled to achieve the right setup for his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford at Bristol.
This performance caps off a challenging round that included 19th place at Darlington and 11th place at Kansas.
Harvick’s 23-year tenure in the Cup Series will conclude after the championship race in November. Harvick made an exclusive statement:
“There wasn‘t a flash of brilliance from the time we took it off the truck. We could have won Darlington. We were off at Kansas and terrible here. We‘ve been hit or miss all year. Off and on.”
His performance of six top-five finishes and 12 top-10 finishes in 29 races this season stands in stark contrast to the remarkable success he and his crew chief Rodney Childers had in their nine previous seasons.
Their track record includes 37 wins and a memorable championship victory, not to mention the 23 wins Harvick earned while racing for Richard Childress Racing.
In the opening playoff race, the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington, Harvick was in a strong position to contend for victory until an unfortunate caution occurred.
This caution arose when Ryan Newman spun out while leader Tyler Reddick attempted a late pit stop in response to Harvick’s strategy, ultimately taking Harvick out of contention.
The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs will proceed at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, September 24, at the same venue.