HomeLifestyleNASCAR Cup Champ Joey Logano Discusses Sunday’s Daytona 500 ‘Wreckfest’

NASCAR Cup Champ Joey Logano Discusses Sunday’s Daytona 500 ‘Wreckfest’

Last year’s NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Joey Logano, will start on the inside of row 2 in the 65th running of the Daytona 500 this coming Sunday, broadcast live on FOX television at 2:30 p.m. Logano won the big race once, in 2015. But he is not looking forward to the last lap of this one, calling it a wreckfest. “Nobody cares about, nor remembers, who finishes second at Daytona,” he says. “Maybe in another race later in the season, when points come into play, a solid finish is fine, but the 500 is all about winning. With that mentality, and as close as the cars are these days, we’re going to crash at the end, it’s going to happen [laughs]. You just hope you’re in the right spot when it does.”

Indeed. More often than not in recent years, the “big ones” happen in the last few laps at Daytona. We caught up with Logano, 32, earlier today, for his thoughts on Sunday’s race and other things motorsports. Following are edited excerpts from a longer phone conversation.

Jim Clash: You’ve won two Cup Championships, last year and in 2018, and the Daytona 500, in 2015. Which is most special?

Joey Logano: The Championships, for multiple reasons. When you win the 500, it’s great, an iconic race. You want to have that trophy so bad. But you don’t really have time to enjoy it because you have to race the next weekend. It’s short-lived. A Championship takes the whole season. You’ve got to get through the playoffs, all of that stuff, to put yourself in a position for a do-or-die moment at Phoenix. It’s just a different feel. And then, you have the whole off-season to enjoy the crown. So definitely, in my mind anyway, the Championship trumps the 500. But probably not all drivers feel that way.

Clash: At the last race, The Busch Light Clash at the Colliseum, you and Kyle Busch had an incident. Explain.

Logano: It was just racing. I sent it in there a little too hard on the bottom on the restart, with tires not quite up to temperature. I made a mistake, and got into Kyle. I don’t blame him for being mad. Kyle and I probably don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, but I respect his talent and ability on the track. He’s a very smart racer. Our personalities are polar opposites, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We’re just different people.

Clash: You’re known as “sliced bread” within the racing community. Where did that name come from?

Logano: Honestly, it was a joke between me and my friends when we were like, 16 years old. It stuck with me. I always say I’ve been called a lot worse, so I just kind of go with it. Now I’m in my 30s, and it’s still with me [laughs].

Clash: What are you afraid of, and how do you deal with fear?

Logano: I’m afraid of losing. How do you handle that? Just be more prepared than the next racer, anticipate what’s coming your way next.

Clash: You’ve driven for Roger Penske for a long time. What’s he like?

Logano: Boy, there’s a loaded question [laughs]. Roger is a winner, right? He’s going to find a way to win no matter what he’s doing – racing, his businesses. Name something else, and he’s going to win at that, too. He always looks out of the windshield, never back at the past, expecting excellence from those who work around him. That expectation is known by everybody on our race team without it needing to be said. A great leader is one who leads by example, and that’s Roger.

Clash: Did you ever think when you started racing as a kid, you’d be making $9 million a year doing it?

Logano: It’s a great career. I’d always wanted to drive race cars. Obviously, there are a lot of benefits that come along with it, as you say. NASCAR, for me as a kid, was not about making money, but about competing against the best of the best, the best stock car racers in the world. They’re here at Daytona this weekend, and at the other races in this series. I didn’t do it for the money. I’ve been very fortunate to live out my dream. $9 million? That comes along if you win enough, hopefully more than that [laughs].

Clash: Is there a question I didn’t ask that you want to answer?

Logano: Well, to expand on the last question, racing also provides the opportunity to touch people’s lives, a platform that God’s given me. I speak to countless people every weekend, a lot of them kids. I always say attitudes are contagious, being that light in the room no matter what you’re doing. Having the stage I have now, we’re able to affect a lot of people. Take the Joey Logano Foundation, where we’re able to help a lot of foster children. Again, the why for me is not money, the why is the ability to affect people, and to enjoy doing it. A lot of people in our sport are that way, too, even though they are cut-throat on the track. The good stories never get told, right? But there are a ton of them.

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