It may be the longest and most grueling race on the NASCAR Cup schedule, but Joey Logano wouldn’t have Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 any other way.
“The Coke 600 is a crown jewel event,” the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang said Friday during a media video conference. “It’s always been that way for us. It’s such a big deal to try to win that one.
“I’ve come so close (to winning the 600), finished second there last year, just want to get that one done so bad, but that race track with this 550 (horsepower) rules package is pretty intense on these restarts. There is gonna be three and four-wide racing.”
While the usual crowd and throngs of military members will not be in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that doesn’t diminish how important this weekend is, both for honoring the military – which will be done primarily on a virtual basis – as well as for the impact the race outcome may have on the playoffs.
“Yes, it’s 600 miles and it’s a long one, but I guarantee those restarts are gonna be super-intense,” Logano said. “Once you get 15-20 laps into a run, it just gets harder and harder to pass.
“But for the first 15-20 laps it’s gonna be game on, where we’re gonna be very intense out there pushing and shoving.”
Given the significant attention NASCAR is getting for being the first major professional sport to resume action in the pandemic, Logano was asked if it may be difficult for fans to stay with the lengthy action Sunday, particularly new and potential fans who are starved for sports entertainment.
“I’ve always enjoyed the Coke 600 because there’s more racing to watch,” he said with a laugh. “There are shorter races to watch if you don’t want to watch a long one, but as far as the 600, you can’t shorten that race, you just can’t.
“It’s the Coke 600. No one calls it the Coke 300 or 400. It’s the Coca-Cola 600 and you cannot change that. It’s a crown jewel event. We must keep it the same and that’s what we’re doing.”
There’s also the historic aspect of the 600, which celebrates its 61st edition on Sunday.
“I was watching the (TV) special during the rain delay this weekend about the 600 and the history behind it and all, and it just got me excited to race in that race this weekend,” said Logano, who has won two of the first six races this season. “I’m glad we’re keeping it the same.
“I think fans will enjoy it either way. It’s a good race track and it’s gonna be intense out there from lap one. At this point, nobody saves their car and says, ‘Oh, I’ve got to make sure I have brakes on it. It’s 100 percent from lap one. We’re hammer down every lap, so the intensity is there the whole time.”