Joey Logano
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Joey Logano: ‘We gotta run’ all 36 Cup races after postponements

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The month of May looms large over the NASCAR industry. That’s when the sanctioning body hopes to return to racing after it postponed seven races because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

May also looms over Joey Logano and his family but in a good way.

“The crazy thing about this, (wife) Brittany is pregnant right now,” Logano said Thursday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.” “She’s due May 8th. So go figure.”

May 8 is when Cup cars are scheduled to be on track in preparation for the following day’s race at Martinsville Speedway.

While no one asked for eight weeks off because of a pandemic or all the misfortune arising from it, Logano is seeking a silver lining in the situation.

“She was a week early with (first child) Hudson,” Logano said. “And I’m hoping she’s going to be a week or so early again. Not too early, but a little bit early and I can be there for that, which would be a blessing in disguise for this whole thing.”

If the Martinsville race is able to go off as scheduled, what comes after that remains to be seen.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps said earlier this week the sanctioning body intends to hold all the remaining races on the Cup schedule, including the All-Star Race.

Logano was adamant “you have to” run all 36 Cup races.

“Think about if you canceled races,” Logano told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “So you wouldn’t run them at all. Well, now you’re draining the industry of a lot of money. These sponsors come in to pay to run a race. A lot of them are per race.

“So if you start eliminating races, well, it doesn’t change how much you have to pay the employees at the race team. So your revenue goes down a lot if we don’t race. So we gotta race, and there’s going to be plenty of hungry fans to watch it. Everyone’s going to be hungry to watch some sports when we get going again or want to go to races or get out of their houses at that point.”

MORE: Family owned Xfinity teams brace for long break

Logano points to the first races that were postponed at Atlanta and Homestead.

“They’re racetracks that we go to once a year,” Logano said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “So if you live in that area, maybe that was your race you were going to go to because you couldn’t afford to go to one further away.

“You almost feel like you got cheated out of a race if we don’t run it. So finding a way to run the race just makes sense from a fan’s perspective, from a business perspective, we gotta run these things. Now my question is, do we gotta get them all in before the playoffs start? Because that’s what sets the playoffs, is the regular season.”

Phelps said Tuesday it’s NASCAR’s desire to reschedule all the postponed races before the playoffs start so that the season can end at Phoenix Raceway as planned.

“There’s a lot of questions from a scheduling standpoint,” Logano said. “How long have we been talking about running a midweek race?

“I think when you look at the Daytona 500 … we ran it on a Monday night (in 2012). The ratings were great. That’s a big part of sports is what TV ratings are. That was a really big win. The tough part about that is for the racetracks. Now you’re racing on a weekday, people have to go to work, it’s harder to get people into the stands. It’s a balancing act, right? You get better TV but maybe less people with access to the facility. …. Now our hands are kind of tied, and we’re forced to possibly do that and really get a good test on what that’s all about.”

With so much time now on his hands, Logano said “You sit around and you can’t help but let your mind wonder thinking about (it).”

eNASCAR Pro Invitational Qualifier to be streamed online

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The qualifying race for Sunday’s eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series event at a virtual Texas Motor Speedway will be streamed on enascar.com/live, NASCAR announced.

The qualifier features Xfinity, Truck and regional series drivers looking to advance to the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series race that will be at 1 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox, FS1 and the Fox Sports App. At this time, four drivers from the qualifier will advance. That number could change depending on any late additions or drops to the race featuring Cup drivers.

MORE: Roush, Greg Biffle reunite for eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series race

MORE: North Wilkesboro to make its comeback on iRacing 

MORE: eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series reminds Clint Bowyer of being a rookie

The qualifier is scheduled to take place at 11:02 a.m. ET and have 34 drivers battling for those four transfer spots.

The qualifier will be 30 laps at a virtual Texas Motor Speedway. The race will have no cautions.

Practice begins at 10:30 a.m. ET. Qualifying begins at 10:55 a.m., lasting five minutes, followed by the race.

Last week, six drivers advanced from the qualifier to the main event. They were: Anthony Alfredo, Justin Allgaier, Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Ty Majeski and Ryan Truex.

Drivers scheduled to compete in Sunday’s qualifier at a virtual Texas Motor Speedway are (with car number):

02 – Spencer Boyd

7 – Justin Allgaier

08 – Jeb Burton

15 – Brennan Poole

16 – Justin Haley

22 – Austin Cindric

23 – Sam Mayer

26 – Tyler Ankrum

27 – Ruben Garcia

29  – Kaz Grala

29a – Trevor Bayne

33 – Anthony Alfredo

35 – Todd Gilliland

36 – Jesse Iwuji

40 – Ryan Truex

45 – Ty Majeski

46 – Chandler Smith

50 – Jeffrey Earnhardt

52 – Stewart Friesen

53 – Joey Gase

54 – Kyle Weatherman

63 – Scott Stenzel

68 – Brandon Brown

74 – Sheldon Creed

78 – Ryan Ellis

80 – Joe Graf Jr.

81 – Christian Eckes

90 – Alex Labbe

93 – Myatt Snider

98 – Chase Briscoe

99 – Harrison Burton

TBD – Derek Kraus

TBD – Drew Dollar

TBD – JJ Yeley

March 28 in NASCAR history: Texas Terry Labonte gets a home win

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Terry Labonte’s last two Cup Series wins were anything but forgettable.

The last one, in 2003, came in the Southern 500. That was the same race he earned his first Cup win in way back in 1980.

But four years earlier, the two-time champion got a home win.

A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, the driver nicknamed “Texas Terry” claimed a victory in the 1999 race at Texas Motor Speedway. It was just the third Cup race held at the facility after it opened in 1997.

Labonte started fourth and would lead 124 of 334 laps around the 1.5-mile track, including the final 12 after he passed Dale Jarrett on the outside going into Turn 1 for the lead.

Jarrett wouldn’t get a chance to fight for the lead again. With four laps to go, Jimmy Spencer crashed on the frontstretch to bring out the caution. Labonte took the checkered and yellow flags together for his 21st Cup win.

“We picked places to go test this year and I said ‘I want to go here cause this is a race I want to win,” Labonte told CBS. “Besides Daytona, coming here to Texas is awesome.”

Making the day even better for the Labonte family was Terry’s younger brother, Bobby, placing third.

Also on this day:

1954: The premier series held two races on different sides of the country. Dick Rathmann won a 125-mile race at Oakland Speedway in California after starting last. In Georgia, Al Keller won his first career race at Savannah’s Oglethorpe Speedway.

1982: Sam Ard claimed his first career Xfinity Series win in a race at Martinsville Speedway. Ard would go on to win 22 Xfinity races and the championships in 1983 and 1984.

1992: Robert Pressley passed Harry Gant on the last lap to win the Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway.

1993: Dale Earnhardt came back from a lap down to win at Darlington Raceway. It was his first win since the Coca-Cola 600 10 months earlier. Alan Kulwicki finished sixth in what would be his last race before his death in a plane crash on April 1.

2004: Kurt Busch won at Bristol for his third consecutive victory on the half-mile track.

Roush, Biffle reunite for eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series race

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After four years, Roush Fenway Racing and Greg Biffle are getting the band back together … digitally.

Roush Fenway Racing announced its former driver will compete in Sunday’s eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series event on a digital Texas Motor Speedway.

Like he did in the Cup Series from 2003-2016, Biffle will pilot a No. 16 Ford in the race (1 p.m. ET on Fox and FS1).

“How exciting is it to get back behind the wheel of the No. 16,” Biffle said in a press release. “I watched the iRace last week on TV and I was really impressed with the overall quality of the broadcast and the racing. It was just a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to being a part of the show this weekend.

“We are running a really cool Castrol scheme on the car. I think it’s going to show up really well. My plan is to log a ton of practice time leading up to the race, so hopefully we can have a strong showing and you’ll see a lot of the Castrol green and red on the broadcast.”

This will be Biffle’s iRacing event debut.

After parting ways with Roush Fenway Racing after the 2016 season, Biffle returned to NASCAR last year for a one-off Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway with Kyle Busch Motorsports, which he won.

NASCAR teams impacted by North Carolina stay at home order

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced a stay at home order for the entire state of North Carolina, beginning at 5 p.m. ET Monday because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The order is for 30 days.

The move impacts all NASCAR teams based in North Carolina.

“These are tough directives, but I need you to take them seriously,” Gov. Cooper said in afternoon news briefing.

MORE: N.C. Governor enlists Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson for COVID-19 PSA

MORE: North Carolina stay at home order

The order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to stay at least six feet away from each other. The order requires all residents to stay at home except for essential activities. The order states: “non-essential business and operations must cease.”

The order also states that among the definitions for an essential business and operation is “Businesses that meet Social Distancing Requirements. Businesses, not-for-profit organizations or educational institutions that conduct operations while maintaining Social Distancing Requirements:

a. Between and among its employees; and

b. Between and among employees and customers except at the point of sale or purchase.”

Mecklenburg County and Cabarrus County, which are home to such race teams as Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and JTG Daugherty Racing, were already under a stay at home order through April 16.

By the end of the week, more than 20 states will have issued stay at home orders, including California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Ohio.