Joey Logano on Jeff Gordon: Once a fan, always a fan

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So much has been said about Chase Elliott following in Jeff Gordon’s footsteps.

But if fate were different, Joey Logano could see himself trying to fill Gordon’s shoes.

Logano grew up idolizing Gordon. The former tried to emulate the latter’s actions and the way he raced, ultimately being one of the chief inspirations for Logano once he started racing himself.

“I watched him when I was six years old … and I was a big Jeff Gordon fan,” Logano said during Thursday’s Speedweeks media day at Daytona International Speedway. “Why? Because he was the young guy out there. I rooted for him.”

And eventually, Logano was racing fender to fender with his hero.

“You never think then that you are going to race against him someday or race against him for wins like we did in Texas or for a championship like we did last year,” Logano said. “That is really cool.

“When you are a kid watching whatever your favorite sport is, you typically don’t get to play with or against that guy because they are usually retired by then. Racing is cool because you get to race against your childhood heroes.”

Logano was quick to add that Gordon didn’t just blaze a trail for young drivers such as himself. Gordon also served as perhaps the last connection to NASCAR’s Golden Age of racing.

“He paved the way for a lot of things; (young drivers) is one of them,” Logano said of Gordon. “There are a lot of other things he has done that he will be remembered for: Obviously, the four championships and all the race wins.

“It is really cool I got to race against him. For me, I never got to race against Bobby Allison or Richard Petty but I got to race against Jeff Gordon and that is just as cool.”

Logano revealed that when he was struggling earlier in his Sprint Cup career, he went to Gordon for advice. Rather than Gordon rebuffing Logano, he gladly imparted some advice upon his longtime fan and now racing rival.

“I was trying to figure it all out and I asked him,” Logano said. “He started at a young age and had seen what I was doing and I asked him what I was doing wrong. He was very helpful on just giving me some very good advice to help me turn the corner. I thought that was very big of him to do that.

“Every time I asked he had something for me. That is cool. As a competitor you are always skeptical about helping your other competitors because you have to race against them, but as long as you ask he was always there to help. I think that is neat.

“I was able to relate to him quite a bit and we talked about how he got to this point and what he did and I shared what I was struggling with. We talked about it for about an hour and a half or more. That was really cool.”

And even though he’s only 24 now, Logano is already thinking about how he may serve as a Gordon-like inspiration to the next generation of drivers that will not only seek to emulate him, but eventually succeed him.

“Hopefully there is some kid out there racing quarter midgets right now looking at me that someday will kick my butt,” Logano said. “It is funny because when I was seven, the Hartford Courant (newspaper) interviewed me about racing up there and it was a small little thing but I said in that interview I was going to be Jeff Gordon’s worst nightmare. It is hilarious.

“I don’t think I am his worst nightmare by any means but it is so cool to race against him now. As a kid, you say stuff like that and you are seven and don’t know what is going on but I got to race against him and that is really cool.”

Logano will race in his seventh Daytona 500 on Feb. 22, while Gordon will compete in his 23rd and final Great American Race. Both will be going for the checkered flag, but from different perspectives: Gordon will seek his fourth Daytona 500 victory (his last was 2005), while Logano pursues his first.

And if it comes down to Logano vs. Gordon on the final lap? For Logano, it’ll be yet another childhood dream that becomes reality – racing his idol for a win in NASCAR’s biggest race.

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NASCAR Cup Series to go dirt trackin’ at Bristol in 2021

Photo: Bristol Motor Speedway
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Cup teams will compete on a dirt track for the first time in more than 50 years when the series races March 28 at Bristol Motor Speedway, the track announced. 

The full Cup schedule is set to be released at 3:30 p.m. ET today.

“Bristol Motor Speedway has hosted many historic events over the years and we will be adding to that resume,” Jerry Caldwell, general manager of  Bristol Motor Speedway, said on Wednesday. “We can’t wait to see how the stars of NASCAR take to the dirt.”

Said Austin Dillon of the race: “I’m super pumped. … I’m hoping it becomes a staple.”

Caldwell said the track will work with NASCAR on the race format for the dirt event.

“This is returning to our roots in racing,” Caldwell said. He noted that this concept has been talked about for “awhile.” He also said the track will “explore other options” on any other series that could race on dirt beyond NASCAR.

Caldwell said the change comes from feedback from fans.

Bristol hosted dirt races in 2000-01 with the World of Outlaws (see video below of 2001 race) and dirt late models. The track used 14,000 truckloads of dirt for the project.

The last Cup race on dirt was Sept. 30, 1970 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. Richard Petty won a 200-lap race on the half-mile track. He earned $1,000. Petty was among one of five Hall of Famers in the 23-car field that day. Bobby Isaac finished third, Bobby Allison placed sixth, Benny Parsons was 14th, Wendell Scott placed 20th.

The NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series raced on dirt at Eldora Speedway from 2013-19. It was not held this year because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Bristol also will host a second race. That event again will be in the playoffs. The Sept. 18 race again will be an elimination race in the first round. The playoff race will be on the concrete track surface.

Road America to host 2021 Cup race on July 4

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Food, fireworks and road course racing will fill the July 4 calendar for NASCAR fans with Road America hosting the Cup series on that holiday weekend in 2021.

The track announced the race date Wednesday. The full Cup schedule is set to be released at 3:30 p.m. ET today.

The 4.048-mile course has hosted Xfinity races since 2010. Among the current Cup drivers who won there in the Xfinity Series are Michael McDowell in 2016 and Christopher Bell in 2019.

MORE: Cup to run on Indy road course in 2021

MORE: Circuit of the Americas to host Cup for first time in 2021

The track takes the holiday date that had been held by Daytona International Speedway from 1959-2018 before Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted the Cup Series that weekend last year.

“We certainly have been working very close with (Road America) not only how we bring this to life but, ultimately, where it was going to be located on the schedule,” Ben Kennedy, NASCAR vice president of racing operations, told NBC Sports, said of adding the Wisconsin track to the schedule. “We started to really toss around the idea of hey, what about July 4th weekend and what would that look like for the track?

“Just even the name, Road America, it feels like Americana and the July 4th weekend and everything. Fireworks, camping and cookout, everything that goes along with it. That track is almost synonymous with it. I think that’s where we really ended up kind of tying Road America to July 4th weekend. Working with NBC on that as well, they are certainly very bullish on it and excited about having Road America on that weekend.”

Tim Flock won the lone Cup race at Road America in 1956. Flock was among nine NASCAR Hall of Famers among the 26 drivers in that race. Others included Fireball Roberts (third), Herb Thomas (sixth), Buck Baker (eighth), Rex White (11th), Lee Petty (13th), Joe Weatherly (20th), Curtis Turner (24th) and Junior Johnson (26th).

Circuit of the Americas to host Cup for first time in 2021

R. Kevin Butts photo - Courtesy of COTA
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The Cup Series will do more road course racing in 2021 with the addition of the Circuit of the Americas to the schedule, the track announced Wednesday.

The Cup race will be held May 23.

The 3.41-mile road course in Austin, Texas, has hosted Formula One and IndyCar races, among others since its debut in 2012. The track also has a 2.2-mile, 15-turn short course. Announcements regarding race length, course selection and the full weekend schedule will be made at a later date.

MORE: Cup to run on Indy road course in 2021

A NASCAR event has never been held at Circuit of the Americas, but Tony Stewart piloted a Stewart-Haas Racing car there last year in a demonstration run.

COTA is located roughly 220 miles south of Texas Motor Speedway. Speedway Motorsports will be the event’s promoter.

“Our company is proud to have a 60-year history of fabulous firsts in motorsports entertainment, and we are honored to bring America’s premier racing series to one of the world’s most renowned entertainment venues and cities for the very first time,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith in a statement. “I’d like to thank COTA CEO Bobby Epstein as well as NASCAR’s executive leadership for supporting us in an endeavor to do something that we believe will be spectacular for race fans, not only in Texas but around the world. We work and challenge ourselves every day at Speedway Motorsports to create amazing experiences that will last a lifetime, and we know NASCAR at COTA will deliver in 2021.” 

“I’m grateful for Marcus Smith’s vision and determination to make this event possible,” said Circuit of the Americas CEO and Chairman, Bobby Epstein in a statement. “His teams in Charlotte and at Texas Motor Speedway have created a spirit of partnership that will make for a spectacular weekend of fun and competition. Speedway Motorsports, along with the leadership at NASCAR, have a ‘Fans First’ attitude and have responded to everyone who has long desired to see a Cup Series race at COTA. Fans who’ve been here before will witness stock car racing at its finest for the first time, and first-time visitors will be amazed at the views and friendly experience. It will be our pleasure to write another chapter of motorsports history alongside Speedway Motorsports and NASCAR in 2021.” 

The complete 2021 schedule will be announced this afternoon by NASCAR.

Cup to run on Indy road course in 2021

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The NASCAR Cup Series will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2021 but will race on the road course for the first time instead of the oval, track officials announced Wednesday.

Cup will race on the road course on Aug. 15. That race will be held a day after the NTT IndyCar Series races on the Indy road course.

“Our first NASCAR-IndyCar weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants involved,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and IndyCar together during this exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

MORE: Atlanta to have two Cup dates in 2021

MORE: Darlington to run Cup races on Mother’s Day, Labor Day weekend in 2021

The Cup Series has raced at Indy since 1994. But as the racing there has been questioned and the sport has made a push for more road course races, NASCAR moved the Xfinity Series to the road course this year as a trial. The event was well received, creating the opportunity to move next year’s Cup race to the road course as well.

“Indy is Indy, no matter if you’re on the road course or you’re on the oval,” Joey Logano said of what a win there would mean. “It doesn’t matter. If you’re on the dirt track, I don’t care, it’s Indy. It’s that big deal to win there. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a Cup car, IndyCar or a tricycle, you want to win at that race track.”

Indy’s road course is 2.439 miles and features 14 turns. Chase Briscoe won the Xfinity race there after a four-car battle for the lead in the final laps.

The full Cup schedule will be announced Wednesday afternoon. The Xfinity schedule will be announced at a later date. Boles said on a media Zoom he was unsure of the Xfinity plans but talked with Logano about an interest Logano would have in running in a Xfinity race there to get more track time for the Cup race.