Joey Logano loses tire, hits wall, goes to backup car

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Joey Logano is now the second Sprint Cup driver that’s had to go to a backup car today for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 after a tire failure sent him into the wall during final practice.

Unlike Martin Truex Jr., who lost a left-rear tire before his primary car hit the Turn 1 wall, Logano suffered a left-front failure before he brushed the Turn 2 wall.

Unfortunately for the Team Penske driver, he’ll have to go to a backup and abandon his seventh-place starting position for Sunday’s event at Fontana.

Team Penske has a definite problem on its hands after Logano and teammate Brad Keselowski blew five tires during today’s two practice sessions. Keselowski, the Sprint Cup points leader, lost two left-rear tires during “Happy Hour” alone.

“We’ve got an issue for sure,” Logano said to Fox Sports. “We need to figure it out because we didn’t have this issue yesterday. We didn’t change much so we’re a little confused on that, and if anything, on that last run, we put air pressure in…Goodyear thinks it’s air pressure. I’m sure that’s some of it.”

In his own comments to Fox, Penske competition director Travis Geisler noted the technical changes made to the Gen-6 cars compared to when they visited Fontana one year ago.

“We’ve got a degree and a half more camber than what we’ve had here in the past – in the rear – with the new rules,” he said. “[We have] a little bit more downforce than what we’ve had last year. Obviously, speeds are up a little bit, so may be the loading condition’s a little higher than where we’ve been.

“I’m sure we’ll get it figured out. We’ll work with the guys at Goodyear, we’ll work with them closely on where they feel like things need to be. But we thought we made a pretty big step here just to be safe and had another issue. We’ll keep working on it and I’m sure by tomorrow, we’ll get it figured out.”

Penske wasn’t the only team that had tire issues during final practice, as Stewart-Haas Racing drivers Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick also had left-rear tire failures in the session.

Michael Waltrip Racing’s Brian Vickers was fastest in “Happy Hour” with a lap of 185.926 miles per hour in the No. 55 Toyota. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon were P2 and P3 respectively in the session.

Keselowski, despite his two tire failures, was fourth-fastest and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the Top 5.

SPRINT CUP AT FONTANA – FINAL PRACTICE TIMES

Toro Rosso boss hopes to see Kvyat return to Formula 1

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Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost hopes to see sacked driver Daniil Kvyat return to Formula 1 in the near future, saying the Russian “deserves” a place on the grid.

Toro Rosso dropped Kvyat twice through the 2017 season due to poor form, with his final dismissal coming after the United States Grand Prix in October.

Kvyat is no longer part of Red Bull’s motorsport program and is exploring options both inside and outside of F1 for 2018, and Tost feels he could be energized by some time away before returning.

“I am still convinced that Daniil has a very high natural speed. He was sometimes even faster than Daniel Riccardo, but somehow last year and this year he couldn’t show the potential that is within him,” Tost told the official F1 website.

“He was involved in many incidents, but in his defence I also have to say that he had many reliability issues and that didn’t help build up confidence. Being the victim of too many incidents killed the performance he would have been able to show.

“Maybe a short break – to get organized again – and probably we will see Daniil back at his usual performance level with another team.

“Sometimes he was too aggressive at the beginning of the race. The first corner was his weak point. He wanted too much in the first hundred meters – success by any means!

“That puts you under pressure – unnecessary pressure – and that never works.

“I hope for him that he gets another chance, as I think he deserves to be in F1.”