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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Joey Logano sits in his parked car as fan Jason Wallace reaches over the wall to shake his hand. Logano was forced to sit parked on pit row during the entire practice Saturday.

Sunday, September 24, 2017 1:00 am

Logano forced to sit in car as punishment

DAN GELSTON | Associated Press

LOUDON, N.H. – Joey Logano was parked in NASCAR's penalty box.

Logano was forced to strap in, put on his helmet and sit on pit road in the No. 22 Ford for the duration of a 50-minute Cup series practice Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. NASCAR punished Logano and his Team Penske team because the car failed inspection four times before Friday's aborted qualifying attempt.

NASCAR teams routinely hold cars for periods of time during practice for infractions. But NASCAR said it was the first time a Cup driver was benched for the entire practice.

Logano sipped on his water bottle while inside the car on an 80-degree day.

“I had time for a lot of thoughts in there,” Logano said. “Mainly, that it's a total joke. I don't know why it has to be on pit road. There's no reason to sit out there. It's dumb.”

Logano shook hands with fans and some snapped selfies with the car as the rest of the field sped by during practice.

Logano wasn't alone in criticizing NASCAR for the decision. Dale Earnhardt Jr., long NASCAR's most popular driver, tweeted it was “silly” to make Logano sit on pit road.

“I've no issue with making him miss practice. Him sitting on pit road with what amounts to wearing a dunce hat is highly unnecessary,” Earnhardt tweeted.

Kurt Culbert, managing director of integrated marketing and communications, fired back at Earnhardt on Twitter: “Don't do the crime if you can't pay the fine. Simple logic here. EVERYONE knows the rules on this one.”

“But the “hold” part of the practice hold is to be held on pit road. That's intended to be part of the infraction (as is missing track time),” Culbert tweeted.

Teams signed off on the escalating punishment structure in the offseason and knew the consequences for messing with the car for inspection.

The dunce caps and playground taunts briefly swiped the headlines from the other pressing NASCAR playoff hot topics, such as spoiler tape, encumbered finishes, driver twitter spats and lugnuts.

Logano's real punishment is starting last in today's Cup race.

Logano was runner-up in the championship standings in 2016 but failed to make the playoffs this season. His lone win this season which normally would have guaranteed a playoff spot was ruled encumbered. NASCAR essentially stripped him of all benefits that came with his April win because of a rear suspension violation.

Logano had company for a spell on pit road. Martin Truex Jr. was forced to miss 30 minutes of practice because his No. 78 Toyota failed inspection three times before last weekend's playoff opener at Chicagoland.