RICHMOND, Va. — Joey Logano, who raced for the championship in Miami in two of the last three years, was among those who failed to qualify for the playoffs Saturday night at Richmond Raceway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., in his final full-time season in Cup, also will not compete for the championship.
Earnhardt took the lead on Lap 335 while others in front pitted under green. Earnhardt stayed in front through Lap 347 of the 404-lap race before Brad Keselowski, on fresher tires, passed. Earnhardt soon fell back.
“I think that’s all we could do to try to win,’’ Earnhardt said. “I don’t know if we could have outrun the top three. We had a long-run car that was really fast. We tried out butts off to get ourselves a good car. It was a really good car.’’
Still, a 13th-place finish wasn’t what Earnhardt needed to make the playoffs.
“I’m disappointed,’’ he said. “We had some odd luck, but when we didn’t have bad luck, we didn’t capitalize. We had a long summer. We just didn’t capitalize. We didn’t run like we should have. It’s on us. We can’t really put it on nobody else. We just didn’t do the job. We’ll try these next 10 to keep running well. I’d like to win a race, but, damn, if we can just run as well as we did tonight the next several races, that would be great for all these guys.’’
Logano won a race this season — Richmond in April — but the victory did not count toward playoff eligibility because his car failed inspection after the event.
With Logano not qualifying – and Carl Edwards not racing this year – half of last year’s championship four will not be in the playoffs.
“It stings a little bit,’’ Logano said after finishing second Saturday.
“This is the test of our character, not only as a driver but as a team and the way we handle these next 10 races. We don’t want to roll over. We want to help our teammates try to win a championship, and ultimately we want to win 10 races.’’
Clint Bowyer, in his first season at Stewart-Haas Racing, missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Bowyer was fifth off pit road after Stage 1 but was penalized for having the crew over the wall too soon. He restarted 34th.
Bowyer’s woes continued just after a caution at the 250-lap mark. An ambulance was on the apron near pit entrance when the field came down for stops. The field slowed around the stopped ambulance, creating an accordion effect. Matt Kenseth ran into the back of Bowyer’s car. Both suffered damage. Kenseth could not continue and finished 38th.
Erik Jones, who finished third in the second stage and spent part of the race in the top five, also failed to advance. He had a final chance, restarting fifth on the final restart but missed a shift and couldn’t make a charge, placing sixth.
The playoffs begin Sept. 17 at Chicagoland Speedway on NBCSN.