JOEY LOGANO First Taste of NASCAR Double Duty HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 22, 2008) -- The distance from Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., to Memphis Motorsports Park in Millington, Tenn., is less than 400 miles as the crow flies, but it's...
First Taste of NASCAR Double Duty
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 22, 2008) -- The distance from Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., to Memphis Motorsports Park in Millington, Tenn., is less than 400 miles as the crow flies, but it's just a few clicks away from one track to the other on any standard video game like EA Sports NASCAR '09, which you can find at, say, your local GameStop store.
Just ask Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 GameStop Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) at Saturday's Kroger On Track for the Cure 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Memphis Motorsports Park. He's made quite the habit of digitally hopping from one track to another on his Xbox or his Playstation in just a matter of clicks.
But for the first time this weekend, the 18-year-old driving prodigy from Middletown, Conn., will get to make the hop from the outskirts of Atlanta to the outskirts of Memphis in a more conventional, albeit jet-set, fashion as he pulls NASCAR-style "double duty" for the first time in his young career.
He'll be shooting for his second career Nationwide Series victory in only his 16th career start this weekend since turning the requisite age of 18 back in May. And, for the first time ever on the same racing weekend, Logano will also attempt to qualify for his third career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the No. 02 Home Depot Toyota entry for JGR.
Such a racing double has grown to be nothing more than routine over the years for countless drivers when NASCAR's Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series find themselves at different tracks at the same time. This weekend, for example, no less than five drivers -- Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, David Reutimann and Logano -- are entered in both events.
But for Logano, whose meteoric rise through the racing ranks has seemingly accelerated ten-fold since this past May, the weekend will forever be remembered as his very first taste of NASCAR double duty.
If he continues to be the quick study that he has proven to be at his previous 15 stops on the Nationwide circuit, with his first victory coming in just his third career start, and his first of three pole qualifying efforts coming in just his second start, there's every reason to believe the young Logano will quickly master the art of jet-setting between race tracks and finding success at both, as well.
Now that, for the driver who's come to be known as "Sliced Bread," just might have the competitors at both Memphis and Atlanta calling him "Double Trouble" before the weekend is through.
Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 GameStop NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry at Memphis Motorsports Park:
You're less than five months into your career racing in NASCAR's Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series and you're already lined up to do your first weekend of double duty. What are your thoughts as you head into the weekend?
"I think it's going to be pretty cool. It'll probably be tougher than anything I've tried to do so far, but it's really an unknown for me because I've never done it before. I guess we'll see how it goes as we make our way through the weekend. Two races at two different tracks, a plane ride apart on the same weekend -- guys do it all the time, but it's going to be really cool to experience it for the first time this weekend."
This weekend, you'll have to deal with preparation for racing at not one, but two very different tracks and types of races, as well as two very different types of race cars. At this stage in your career, are you concerned about information overload as you make your way through the weekend?
"I don't think so. Yeah, there will be a lot going on, for sure. I think it's really cool to run two big races in one weekend, though. We'll deal with Atlanta when we're in Atlanta, and we'll deal with Memphis when we're in Memphis. That's really all there is to it. Basically, it's just a matter of focusing on one track at a time. It's a matter of just focusing on the track you're at when you're in the car. That's not so difficult, as far as I'm concerned. Drivers at this level do it all the time."
Not only will this weekend's double duty be a new experience for you, but so will Memphis Motorsports Park. What are your thoughts about racing there for the first time this weekend?
"I've never seen the place in-person. I've studied it on video. And I watched tape of the race there last year. It was a wreck-fest, so Lord knows what we can expect this year. When it comes to races like that, it's a luck thing whether you get caught up in somebody else's mess or not. Otherwise, it's a flat track, which plays into our hands a little bit. We'll have a car that's won some races already this year, so we have that going for us."
How do you expect the race to play out, if all goes according to plan?
"We'll see when we actually get to it. But, in reality, the first half of the race on a small track like that will be all about track position and staying up front. I'll also be pretty much learning the track more and more as the race goes along. Then, at the end, we'll get up as close to the front as we can and hope we're in position to race for the win."
Your JGR teammate this weekend at Memphis will be fellow 18-year-old Marc Davis in the No. 18 DLP HDTV Toyota. You've known and raced against Marc for a long time. How does it feel to be back racing with him again?
"It's cool to get together at this level with someone who you've raced against pretty much your whole life. We ran Bandoleros, Legends cars, in the Camping World Series (East), and now again in the Nationwide Series. I'm glad to see him out there with me and I hope he has as much fun as I've been having. He's really cool."
Chassis No. 2085: This car debuted in April at Phoenix International Raceway, where it qualified sixth, led twice for 18 laps and finished third at the hands of Denny Hamlin. It returned to action at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in May with Hamlin again at the wheel. There, Hamlin used Chassis No. 2085 to lead the race's final 12 laps to score what he described as his "biggest accomplishment as a race car driver." It was a special win for Hamlin, who as a native of nearby Chesterfield, Va., began his NASCAR career on local short tracks throughout Virginia and the Carolinas. In June, Tony Stewart wheeled this car to victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, leading twice for a race-high 75 laps to score Chassis No. 2085's second consecutive victory. The car made its fourth career start in July at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind., and its first with Joey Logano as its driver. Logano started fifth and finished eighth in the event.