Joey Logano: It’ll be a different feeling at Martinsville, Miami


To use one of Joey Logano’s favorite words, the 2020 NASCAR Cup season has definitely been “weird” — or at the very least, unusual.

And things will only get even stranger tonight at Martinsville Speedway and Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, for two entirely different reasons.

Tonight’s Cup race, the third mid-week race since NASCAR returned to racing following the COVID-19 hiatus, will mark the first time Martinsville — the oldest track on the Cup circuit — has hosted a Cup night race under the lights in its storied 71-year history.

“Take a 3,400-pound race car with 750 horsepower and make a half-mile circle at your local grocery store parking lot, and try to do that as fast as you can 500 times: that’s Martinsville,” Logano said in a media teleconference. “Nobody knows what that is like because it’s not legal to do what I just explained, so it’s a tough place because to make speed on the short run compared to the long run, or channeling your aggression with patience is tough.

“Making a fast lap one lap is one thing. Making a fast lap 50 laps into a run is another thing. Getting frustrated during the race because you can’t get by somebody or the bumping and banging and keeping your fenders on. There are so many different aspects of winning at Martinsville, which makes it fun, but really, really hard to make it all come together.

“I enjoy the challenge. I absolutely love it.  It’s a fun race track to go to. I’ve come out of there with a big smile on my face and I’ve come out of there wanting to beat someone up, but it’s one of those places that you’re going to have memories, that’s for sure. Good or bad, you’re going to remember your races at Martinsville.”

Logano is one of four Cup drivers that have two wins apiece in the first 10 races thus far this season.

While he has one win (fall 2018), six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 22 career starts at Martinsville, Logano – currently second in the Cup standings – admits it has been a very frustrating track for him over the years.

The most notable incident for Logano there was fall 2015 when Matt Kenseth pile-drove race leader Logano into the wall.

“Obviously, that’s going to take the cake when it comes to frustrating moments,” Logano quipped.

But winning at the .526-mile is the opposite end of the spectrum, Logano said.

“It’s definitely one of those race tracks that as a NASCAR driver you want to have a win at,” he said. “Maybe it’s not Daytona or Indy, but, to me, it’s right in the wheelhouse with Charlotte and Darlington, a road course.

“You want to have on your stats that you clicked off a win at Martinsville because everyone knows how hard that is to say you’ve been able to accomplish. Everyone wants to have that Martinsville clock ringing in the morning every hour when you hear that thing going off in your house. That’s a sweet sound. That’s how you know you’ve been able to win there. It’s not an easy one to get.”

Logano and the rest of the Cup Series won’t have long to digest what happens at Martinsville. Four days later, NASCAR will race at Miami, marking the first time since 2002 that the Cup Series’ annual visit to the South Florida track is not for the season-ending and championship deciding race.

“It’s going to feel really weird,” Logano said. “My whole career, (Homestead has) always been the final race of the year and here in the last few years you’re either in the Championship 4 or you’re racing against the guys in it and it’s kind of been 50/50 for me in those scenarios.

“A lot of times the cream always rises to the top at that race track and you always saw those Championship 4 drivers finishing in the top four or right there at it, and one of them has always won the race.

“I wouldn’t expect some of that to be much different, but you know when you get down there and you’re not in the Championship 4 the effort that those other four cars have put into it has really kind of set themselves apart from the field a little bit, whereas now it might be a little bit more of an equal playing field when we get there. That will be interesting.”

But even if Sunday’s race will be five months earlier than historically has been the case at Miami for the last 18 seasons, Logano — who has one win, four top-five and six top-10 finishes in 11 career Cup starts there — isn’t expecting anything different than the typical norm from the 1.5-mile oval.

“Miami is not going to change, it’s still going to be tires wearing, good, hard racing, side-by-side, a little bit of draft into play as well,” Logano said. “Your car is up by the wall, cars on the bottom, so it’s still going to be a great race.

“It’s still going to be Miami any way you look at it and it’s one of the best, if not the best race track we go to. So I don’t see any of that changing. It’s just the environment is going to feel a little bit different not being the final race of the year.”

Getting back to Martinsville, Logano was asked whether tonight’s outcome could potentially top the incident with Kenseth and make for a new level of frustration there for the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford?

“I’ll let you know Wednesday (after the race),” he quipped.

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COTA Xfinity starting lineup: AJ Allmendinger takes pole


AJ Allmendinger, who won this race a year ago, will start on the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas.

Allmendinger earned the pole with a lap of 92.173 mph Friday on the 20-turn, 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Xfinity starting lineup

He will be joined on the front row Sammy Smith (91.827 mph).
Ty Gibbs (91.665) will start third. Sheldon Creed (91.652) qualified fourth. Parker Kligerman (91.195) will start fifth.

Cup driver William Byron will start ninth. Byron’s time was disallowed for cutting the esses. Cole Custer, who will start 10th, didn’t make a lap in the final round of qualifying.

Cup driver Aric Almirola (91.269) qualified 13th. Truck Series racer Carson Hocevar (90.669) will start 17th. Alex Labbe (90.476) will start 23rd. He’s filling in for Josh Williams, who is serving a one-race suspension for parking his car at the start/finish line of last weekend’s race at Atlanta.

COTA Truck starting lineup: Ross Chastain wins pole


Ross Chastain will start on the pole for Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas.

Chastain earned the top starting spot in Friday’s qualifying with a lap of 91.877 mph. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch (91.490 mph).

More: COTA Truck starting lineup

Ty Majeski qualified third with a lap of 91.225 mph. Rookie Nick Sanchez (90.993) will start fourth, and Christian Eckes (90.937) will complete the top five.

Alex Bowman failed to make the race. Bowman had a flat right front on his qualifying lap.

Tyler Reddick leads Cup practice at COTA


Tyler Reddick posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Cup practice at Circuit of the Americas.

Reddick, who won two road course races last season, topped the field in his 23XI Racing Toyota with a lap of 92.989 mph. Kyle Larson was next, posting a lap of 92.618 mph around the 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Cup practice results

Ross Chastain, who won this race a year ago, was third on the speed chart in practice with a lap of 92.520 mph. He was followed by Kyle Busch (92.498 mph) and Daniel Suarez (92.461 mph).

Jordan Taylor, subbing for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, was 10th on the speed chart in practice after a lap of 92.404 mph.

Former world champion Jenson Button, driving for Rick Ware Racing, was 28th in practice with a lap of 91.759 mph. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, driving the Project 91 car for Trackhouse Racing, was 32nd in practice after a lap of 91.413 mph.

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, driving in his first race for Legacy Motor Club since the Daytona 500, was 36th in practice after a lap of 91.072 mph. IndyCar driver Conor Daly was last among the 39 cars in practice with a lap of 90.095 mph.

Cup qualifying is Saturday. The series races Sunday.


Saturday COTA Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


Austin Hill, the dominant driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series through the early weeks of the season, will be looking for his first Xfinity road course win Saturday.

Hill has won three of the season’s first five races, scoring victories at Daytona, Las Vegas and Atlanta.

Hill has been close in previous road course runs. He has a second at COTA, a third at Portland, a fourth at Road America and a ninth at Indianapolis.

MORE: Dr. Diandra takes a look at top Cup road course drivers

Kyle Busch and AJ Allmendinger own wins in the previous Xfinity races at COTA.

Allmendinger and three other Cup Series regulars — Aric Almirola, William Byron and Ty Gibbs — are scheduled to race in the Xfinity event.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 5:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled at 5:19 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 2 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Jordan Thiessen of Pit Boss Grills at 5 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by recording artist Payton Keller at 5:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 46 laps (156 miles) on the 3.41-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 14. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 5 p.m. … NASCAR RaceDay airs at 4 p.m. on FS1. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. and can be heard at …SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. Temperature of 82 at race time. No chance of rain.

LAST TIME: AJ Allmendinger won last March’s Xfinity race at COTA. Austin Hill was two seconds behind in second place. Cole Custer finished third.