Joey Logano’s first Chase race ends early

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After leading early on in today’s GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, Joey Logano has seen his first-ever Chase race end via an apparent engine failure with 91 laps to go.

Logano, the youngest of the 13 Chasers this year and the pole sitter for today’s race, fell back dramatically around the same time the caution came out at Lap 148 for a spin involving Justin Allgaier. He communicated to his team that he felt he had lost a cylinder, but was ultimately able to keep going until his No. 22 Penske Racing Ford finally gave up the ghost with a cloud of smoke.

“It’s just somewhere in the valve train, it let go,” Logano told ESPN upon his return to the garages. “It’s a bummer for this team. They did everything we needed to do this weekend to give us a shot at this championship right off the bat – sitting on the pole, leading laps.

“We took four tires after the rain delay to hopefully cycle us up to the front and then we could take two the next caution like the 24 [Jeff Gordon] did. It would’ve worked out perfect, but something just let go on it. Nothing we could’ve done different.”

And with that, Logano’s margin of error in contending for a Sprint Cup title has effectively gone to zero. One mulligan isn’t completely lethal to a Chaser’s hopes, but a second one definitely can be.