While we may only be just one race into the NASCAR Chase for the Cup, Joey Logano‘s championship hopes are all but gone after a blown engine cut his night short at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday night.
At around halfway, Logano’s engine began to show signs of weakness and he was obviously down on power. The Penske Racing driver was simply logging laps just to keep putting points on the board. In a Chase with a format that keeps it as tight as this, any and all points will help your cause.
On lap 177, Logano’s engine finally blew and with that, so have his championship hopes. While the new point systems keep things tighter in the Chase, Logano needed a nearly perfect Chase showing in order to contend. He had no room for error or for things out of his control, such as his blown engine, to go wrong.
Logano made the Chase with consistency. He won just one race in 2013, but had 14 top-10 finishes. While that consistency will get you into the Chase, it won’t win you the championship. The thing about this points format is that it allows drivers and teams that want to play it conservatively and simply go for the consistent finishes to do so, but it also greatly benefits the drivers that take risks and win races.
Logano was an aggressive driver at times in 2013, but he certainly wasn’t one of the risk-takers. When looking forward on the calendar and the rest of the tracks in the Chase, he averages roughly a 15th place finish at the remaining nine tracks. That is nowhere near enough to keep you in contention to win the championship.
While he started off sixth in the Chase standings, Logano was still a long shot to win the championship simply because he and his team couldn’t find ways to win races. They are good enough to run in the top-10 and top-15 each week, but couldn’t quite break through that barrier and get the car into victory lane. Like I said, if you want to win the championship, you have to win races.
With nine races remaining in the NASCAR Chase of the Cup, you can already eliminate one driver. While Logano may still have a mathematical chance at winning the championship, he realistically has no shot to win the coveted crown after his unfortunate DNF at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday night.