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Four cars were taken out of the race by the chain-reaction crash, which occurred just before half distance during the final race at the Californian track in its two-mile format. In total, 10 cars were involved in the wreck – making it the largest multi-car crash in the track’s Cup history.
Team Penske’s Logano said the larger restart zone – which has been expanded by 50 percent for the first five races of 2023 as an experiment – means there is more potential for cars to attempt to get a run and, as the leading car, he can choose when to accelerate.
But his decision to go relatively deep into the zone meant some cars in the pack had gone too early, and it was those in the middle of the field who were to blame.
“Go back and look at the data – I didn’t do anything,” said Logano. “I just rolled it and went like everyone was anticipating it.
“It’s part of the new restart zone – it’s bigger. So, you can’t anticipate as much as you used to without getting into trouble. I went late in the zone because the car to the inside of me was laying back, so I was waiting for him to get up next to me before I went.
“I didn’t brake check anyone. It might look like it, but you can go back and look at it and see it’s not there.”
Fellow Ford driver Aric Almirola, who was told by his spotter in the immediate aftermath that Logano was to blame for causing the stack-up, said: “I think the leader was just playing games, trying to prevent the runs coming from behind, and they stopped in the middle of the restart zone was right about where they should have been accelerating.
“It was just a huge accordion effect. We were back in 16th, so everybody just started stacking up and you can’t stop on a dime. It’s disappointing to get wrecked out of the race like that on a silly Mickey Mouse restart, but I should have known better.”
Christopher Bell, who’d started the race from pole after qualifying was rained out, was another one of those taken out by colliding with the car in front, and then being slammed from behind.
“You can’t see what’s going on,” he said. “You are just going off the guy in front of you and all of sudden he slows down and I got into him, and other guys got into me.”
Ryan Preece, who was also forced out in the shunt, added: “It’s kind of stupid, to be honest with you, on a professional level and we all wreck on a restart.”