Defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano will not be able to repeat his title run after getting caught up in an incident on Lap 263 of the Bass Pro Shops Bristol Night Race.
Logano was struggling throughout the majority of Saturday night’s 500-lap event and was running one lap down to the race leaders when the race went back to green flag conditions for the start of Stage 3.
Exiting Turn 2, Corey LaJoie got loose under the No. 43 Chevrolet of Erik Jones and spun down the backstretch and made contact with the inside wall. LaJoie’s No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet slid back up the track at the entrance of Turn 3 and made hard contact with the left rear tire of Logano’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford. Ryan Newman, Ty Dillon and Justin Haley were also involved in the incident.
Logano was initially able to drive away from the incident, but his left rear wheel was barely secured to the car. After a quick trip to pit road he pulled the car behind the wall, ending his night early and ending his championship hopes.
"I saw the smoke. I saw the 7 (LaJoie) spinning," said Logano. "Coleman (Pressley, spotter) was saying, ‘He’s coming up. He’s coming up.’ As I was on the brakes to try to pull onto the bottom. I think it was Newman behind me, but I think someone hit him behind him and it was just kind of a chain reaction into it. Once I got hit I was like, ‘Shoot, I’ve got to go up now’ because I couldn’t make the bottom, so I committed to that and the hole closed up.”
Despite being the defending champion, Logano said the team has simply been off this season and have work to do ahead of the 2024 season to turn things around.
"I haven’t really felt like we’ve made any big gains that we need to and unfortunately it seems like it’s at every track," he said. "Typically you may say, ‘Oh, we’re off on a mile-and-a-half, but our short tracks are OK or your road courses are OK.’ It just seems like we’re off everywhere right now, so we’ll see what happens here the rest of the race and if we get knocked out it gives us a few races to swing big and try to figure it out for next year."
Photo courtesy Jonathan McCoy, Racing America