What were the chances that two drivers who were among the favorites to win this season’s NASCAR Chase would find trouble in Sunday’s Bank of America 500 on the same lap and for different reasons?
That’s what happened to Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick, both of whom find their title hopes in dire straits as they head to the second race of the Chase’s second round next Sunday at Kansas Speedway.
On Lap 156, the left front tire on Logano’s No. 22 Toyota went down, sending him into the Turn 2 wall. At about the same time, Harvick’s No. 4 Chevy slowed because of what was apparently a computer or electrical problem.
With just two pit stalls separating them, their crews tried desperately to get their cars back on the track. Logano, who had significant damage to the front end, finally backed down pit road and into the garage. He would eventually return but finished 36th, 80 laps down.
Harvick never made it back and finished 38th.
Just like that, Logano, who won all three second-round races in 2015, and Harvick, who has advanced through each round of the Chase since the format was restructured in 2014, have some serious work to do at Kansas and, in the final race of the second round, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Logano is 11th and Harvick 12th in the 12-driver second round, with eight advancing to the next stage.
“We’re not out of it by any means,” said Logano, who started 10th. “We had a very fast car. It was capable of winning, for sure. We ran up from 10th to third and were still running down the leaders early in the race.”
Harvick moved into the second round by virtue of a victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the first race of the Chase. Since then, though, he has struggled. He cut a rear tire at Dover last week and after his crew broke a track bar mount during the pit stop, finished 37th.
“Lots of things can go wrong,” Harvick said. “And today they did.”