Joey Logano: From ‘Sliced Bread’ to ‘Gremlin’

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For the moment at least, everybody hates Joey Logano. At least it seems that way.

With Martin Truex Jr. declaring he will “drive him different” following the Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway, one wouldn’t be faulted for feeling as if the half the series’ field has a beef with Logano.

Truex counts himself among Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin as having tangled with the Team Penske driver and come away unhappy.

With the series returning to Martinsville Speedway this weekend — site of Kenseth’s crowd-approved intentional wrecking of Logano — Hamlin defended Logano’s driving style and expressed an understanding of the situation Logano is in.

“My perfect, 100 percent honest answer to that is Joey races really tough and really hard,” Hamlin told media Tuesday during a Goodyear tire test at Richmond International Raceway. He gave his answer with Logano present in the room. “At times, he’s difficult to pass, but a lot of times that pays off at the end. It pays off in track position, it pays off with little things.”

And wins, Logano won a series-high six races last year.

“I’ve tried it the other way and it didn’t work,” said Logano, who won just three races in his first five seasons at the Cup level. “I think keeping the end of the race in mind throughout the whole race has always been important to me and what I found to be successful throughout these races as I’ve gone through them now for seven years. I found what works for me.”

Logano claims he still can’t definitively say what “racing hard” means after more than seven full-time seasons in NASCAR.

“I still haven’t learned this whole driver code thing,” Logano said during a break in Goodyear tire test at Richmond. “I do what comes natural to me. I know what I need to do inside the race car. I know what works for my race team. We kind of show up as our little family and we show up to try race everyone.”

Logano, a 14-time winner in the Sprint Cup, only earned one win in his first three seasons. His slow rise came as the nickname “Sliced Bread” clung to the driver who was supposed to be the best thing since it.

Most of Logano’s confrontations came before he won 11 races from 2014-15.

Hamlin’s history with Logano, a former teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, began with an accident at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2013 when Hamlin spun Logano. Afterward, Logano confronted Hamlin in the pits.

“He said he was ‘coming for me,'” Hamlin said afterward. “I usually don’t see him, so it’s usually not a factor.”

It would be a factor a week later at Auto Club Speedway. In a last-lap duel for the win, both drivers crashed and Hamlin missed the next four races with a L1 compression fracture. That was the same weekend Stewart went after Logano on pit road after the race for blocking him on a late restart.

On Tuesday, Hamlin said it would be difficult for him to criticize the way anyone drives.

“I just think we all have our own styles of driving,” he said. “Everyone has a different style. You can’t expect someone to convert the way that they drive to appease other people, because it’s what made them successful. It’s hard for me to criticize the way anyone drives, even though it might not be the way that I do it. It’s what got them here and what made them successful.”

Hamlin also summed up Logano’s current standing among drivers as a byproduct of a sport that sees reputations established over incidents and hard racing.

“I think sometimes it seems there’s coincidences that it’s like,” Hamlin said. “I’ve probably had the same thing happen to me. Somebody will be pissed at me and the next week somebody else is pissed at me. It’s part of it.”

“Ultimately, as long as you feel good about the way that you handle things on the track and off the track when things do go bad, I got no problems with it whatsoever.”

The current state of opinion on Logano’s driving style didn’t start or end at Martinsville last year.

One could trace the origins of Logano’s reputation to the 2010 season. Logano’s second year in Cup, there were two accidents with Kevin Harvick, in the Xfinity Series at Dover and later in the Cup Series at Pocono Raceway. The second resulted in a post-race altercation.

Logano would remark that Harvick’s wife, DeLana, “wears the firesuit in the family, she tells him what to do.”

Recently, Harvick said he was still earning money from a T-shirt based on Logano’s comment.

In a Twitter exchange following last week’s race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. pointed to the Pocono incident as starting Logano’s transformation into the “gremlin.”

Six years later, Truex’s run-in with Logano followed Stewart and Hamlin’s at Fontana, Newman at Michigan in 2010 and Harvick again in the 2015 Sprint Unlimited. A week later, the “gremlin” won the Daytona 500.

Carson Hocevar to run full Truck schedule in 2021

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Niece Motorsports has signed Carson Hocevar to run the full NASCAR Truck schedule in 2021, the team announced Thursday.

Hocevar, who turns 18 in January, has run five races for the team this season. His best finish this year is 12th at Dover. He’s scheduled to run at Martinsville on Oct. 30.

“I’m so excited to get the opportunity to race fulltime next year with the Niece Motorsports group,” said Hocevar in a statement. “We’ve had some really strong runs in the few starts that we’ve had this season and I am grateful for the chance to continue that next year. I’ve learned so much already this year and know that we will keep improving next year too.”

“Carson has really impressed us this season,” said team owner Al Niece in a statement. “He’s proven his talent – getting into the truck with no track time and really holding his own. We’re thrilled to have him with us fulltime next season and look forward to contending for wins together.”

TikTok to sponsor Ryan Vargas in six Xfinity races

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JD Motorsports
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TikTok is coming to NASCAR.

The popular video sharing app will break into the sport next month as a sponsor of Ryan Vargas in the Xfinity Series.

TikTok has partnered with JD Motorsports to sponsor the 20-year-old Vargas in the final six races of the season, beginning with the Oct. 3 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“TikTok has provided me with an incredible outlet to reach new fans and demographics through fun and creative content, and I’ve seen the highest growth in followers on TikTok over my other social channels,” Vargas said in a press release. “The opportunity to run the No. 6 TikTok Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for the rest of the season is an absolute dream come true. Johnny Davis and the whole JD Motorsports with Gary Keller team took a chance on me last year and I’m excited to bring this amazing TikTok partnership their way. I wouldn’t want to make this partnership a reality anywhere else.”

Vargas has made three Xfinity Series starts this year. His best finish was 13th at Pocono.

The sponsor deal is part of TikTok’s Latinx Heritage Month programming.

A native of La Mirada, California, Vargas joined TikTok last year. He is a former member of NASCAR’s Drive 4 Diversity programming and a winner of the Wendell Scott Trailblazer award, which is given to a minority or female driver who displays exceptional on-track performance, sportsmanship, and community service.

The partnership and paint scheme were inspired by a concept scheme by graphic designer Ryan Pistana, a friend of Vargas’.

“Creators of all sizes and backgrounds show up to TikTok with their genuine, authentic selves,” Nick Tran, TikTok’s Head of Global Marketing, said in a press release. “Partnering with an iconic brand like NASCAR to sponsor Ryan Vargas on his racing journey is a way for us to continue to support, celebrate and elevate the diverse creators that make our TikTok community what it is today. Ryan is an incredible athlete, and we’re looking forward to cheering him on alongside the rest of the TikTok community!”

According to CNBC in August, TikTok has roughly 100 million monthly users, up nearly 800% from January 2018.

TikTok, a Chinese-owned company, has been in national headlines recently after President Donald Trump threatened to ban the app in the United States for national security reasons if it was not sold to an American company. On Sept. 19 he approved a deal for its U.S operations to be operated by Oracle and Walmart.

Las Vegas weekend schedule

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NASCAR’s postseason continues with the Las Vegas weekend schedule, as the Cup Series begins the Round of 12.

In addition to Cup, Las Vegas Motor Speedway will host the Xfinity Series’ playoff opener and the second race of the Truck Series’ opening round.

More: Kevin Harvick on pole for Cup race

Here is the Las Vegas weekend schedule:

(All times Eastern)

Friday, Sept. 25

Noon – 2 p.m. ET – Truck Series haulers enter (screening and equipment unload)

2 p.m. – Truck Series garage opens

2 – 8 p.m. – Truck Series garage access screening in progress

2:30 – 3 p.m. – Truck Series rookie meeting (electronic communication)

5 p.m. – Xfinity rookie meeting (electronic communication)

5:30 p.m.  – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting (electronic communication)

8:50 p.m. – Truck Series drivers report to vehicles

9 p.m.- Truck Series race; 134 laps/201 miles (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

11:30 p.m. – Truck Series haulers exit

 

Saturday, Sept 26.

11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Xfinity haulers enter (screening and equipment unload)

1 p.m. – Xfinity garage opens

1 – 6:30 p.m. – Xfinity garage access screening in progress

5 p.m. – Cup rookie meeting (electronic communication)

5:30 p.m. – Cup driver-crew chief meeting (electronic communication)

7:20 p.m. – Xfinity drivers report to cars

7:30 p.m. – Xfinity race; 200 laps/300 miles (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

9:30 p.m. – Xfinity haulers exit

10:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. – Cup haulers enter

 

Sunday, Sept. 27

Noon – Cup garage opens

Noon – 6 p.m.  – Cup garage access screening in progress

6:50 p.m. – Cup drivers report to cars

7 p.m. – Cup race; 267 laps/400.5 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

11:30 p.m. – Cup haulers exit

NTSB releases final report on Dale Jr. plane crash

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Photo: Dustin Long
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Pilot error played a key role in the August 2019 crash of a plane carrying Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, a final report by the National Transportation Safety Board stated Wednesday.

Earnhardt, wife Amy and daughter Isla were on board the plane, which crashed after a hard landing at Elizabethton (Tennessee) Municipal Airport on Aug. 15, 2019. The report stated all three suffered minor injuries. 

The NTSB listed the probable causes of the accident as: “The pilot’s continuation of an unstabilized approach despite recognizing associated cues and the flight crew’s decision not to initiate a go-around before touchdown, which resulted in a bounced landing, a loss of airplane control, a landing gear collapse, and a runway excursion. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to deploy the speedbrakes during the initial touchdown, which may have prevented the runway excursion, and the pilot’s attempt to go around after deployment of the thrust reversers.”

A “go-around” occurs when a pilot pulls out of a landing and gains altitude to make another landing attempt.

The report stated that “the flight crew made several comments about the airplane flying too fast and allowed the airspeed to increase well above the reference speed for the approach.”

The report stated that “the pilot did not extend the speedbrakes upon touchdown, which landing checklist required, but instead attempted to deploy the thrust reversers immediately after touchdown, which was a later item on the landing checklist.”

Earnhardt’s Cessna 680A Citation Latitude bounced twice upon landing as it traversed the 5,001-foot runaway.

After the fourth touchdown, the right main landing gear collapsed. The plane went off the road and through a 400-foot long area of grass. It went down an embankment, through a creek and a chain-link fence. It continued up an embankment. The plane came to rest about 600 feet beyond the runway at the edge of a four-lane highway.

The passengers and two pilots escaped as the plane burned.

The full report can be read here.