JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — If the plan was to spot the competition a lead, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Joey Logano have their rivals right where they want them. Both got off to a miserable start in the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Logano, the pole-sitter, was forced to drop out of Sunday's rain-delayed race at Chicagoland Speedway when his engine quit with 91 laps remaining. He finished 37th.
Some 50 laps later, Earnhardt wound up following Logano onto pit road with a race-ending problem of his own. He settled for 35th.
They were the only two in the 13-driver Chase qualifying field not to finish the first of NASCAR's 10-race, season-ending playoff series. None of the other drivers finished worse than 16th.
"I am pretty angry," Logano said. "That was such a fast race car we had."
Logano qualified for the Chase for the first time this year, and was embroiled in the scandal-plagued race at Richmond last weekend. After a wide-ranging investigation, NASCAR officials punished Michael Waltrip Racing for its role in manipulating the race. Additionally, Logano's Penske Racing team was placed on probation Friday for its role in bargaining for track position at Richmond to get Logano in the Chase.
At least Logano's problems on this night were limited to the track. He had gone to pit road once before his exit, complaining of cylinder problems with his Ford.
"Unfortunately the motor blew up. You have these every once in a while," said Logano, teammate of defending series champion Brad Keselowski. "It's a bummer to have it in the Chase when you are running for a championship. I feel like Chicago was one of those tracks we could win at. Everyone was doing the right thing. ... It just wasn't our day I guess."
Earnhardt felt the same way. He got caught in a slow-speed pile-up on pit road, damaged the nose of his car and struggled to keep the front end together the rest of the race.
"We were going to get that patched up and maybe be able to make something out of it," Earnhardt said. "But something broke there in the motor. It's tough."
The question going forward becomes whether either man can make up the deficit.
Five-time champion Jimmie Johnson finished 39th in the 2006 playoff opener and came back to win the title. But he only dropped to ninth in what was then a 10-driver qualifying field; Logano and Earnhardt will head to the next Chase occupying the last two spots in the 13-driver field.
Earnhardt moves to the next race in New Hampshire ranked 13th, 53 points behind leader Matt Kenseth, who won the opener at Chicagoland. Logano is 12th, 52 points back.
"Everyone did a good job. That is what we have to hold our heads up about," Logano said. "It is a tough break for this team. We are strong. We have battled through a lot of adversity this year and we will keep doing it."
Earnhardt was not quite as optimistic.
"We have some pretty tough competition in the Chase," he said. "The average finish is going to be inside the top 10 to win the championship. So you can do the numbers, you can do the math."
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
A Fort Wayne man had the opportunity to have lunch with Nelson Mandela 20 years ago. He says the experience is something he has carried with him throughout the years.
The suspects face bank robbing charges, as well as charges of assaulting and putting in jeopardy the lives of others.
The yellow brick building that served for decades as the club house for the Elks Lodge 155 golf course in Fort Wayne is being demolished.
Buffalo Wild Wings donated $6,500 to the Boys & Girls Club's Fairfield location on Friday afternoon. The money will be used for youth sports tournaments.
A new event promises 12 days of delicious deals at Fort Wayne restaurants in January.
A woman arrested for shoplifting at a Fort Wayne Walmart identified herself as her husband's ex-wife when she was actually the man's current wife. The ex-wife then ended up getting arrested when the real wife failed to show up for court.
Gov. Mike Pence has ordered flags at Indiana state facilities to be flown at half-staff in tribute of Nelson Mandela and is asking businesses and residents to do so also to honor the world leader.
A big chunk of the U.S. is getting a blast of wintry weather. Some areas are experiencing frigid temperatures. Some are seeing snow and ice. Several deaths have been reported, most resulting from treacherous driving conditions. Hundreds of…
Frigid temperatures and a cold Saint Joseph River didn't stop approximately 100 students from jumping into the river as part of Homecoming Week at IPFW.
The Salvation Army and Toys for Tots are seeing a decline in donations this year because of a late Thanksgiving.
Global civil rights icon Nelson Mandela, whose legacy is ending South African apartheid, has died.
Fort Wayne is not expected to take the brunt of an approaching winter weather system, but everyone will experience frigid temperatures and some could see sleet and snow.
Thieves hit an Indianapolis home this week, stealing a large nativity scene from the front yard.
The Veteran Beer Company, a company employing solely veterans, is bringing its craft beers to Fort Wayne.
Fort Wayne officials are attributing the rise in violent crime to gangs. NewsChannel 15 spoke with a former LAPD officer about the Summit City's crime problem.