Logano: New Hampshire win bigger than Daytona 500
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a first-person account from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano about his childhood memories attending New Hampshire Motor Speedway , as well as his successful career at his home race track. New Hampshire will host Sunday’s Sprint Cup race, the Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). I remember the first time I went to New Hampshire was in 1997, when I was seven years old. My family camped out by Turn 2, back there behind all the midway activities for the weekend. We were there for the weekend and watched the modified race, the Busch North race -- at the time that's what the K&N Pro Series East was called -- and the Sprint Cup race. My family actually still has a photo album of the trip. I got pictures of the cars when they came out and practiced. Looking back on it, I guess that really was my first memory of NASCAR racing. It's cool that I remember it, but I think everyone remembers the time you go to your first NASCAR race. One thing I remember is when I got to meet Jeff Gordon that weekend, which was awesome because I grew up a huge Jeff Gordon fan. He was leaving an appearance and I was one of those people that kind of sat there on the side, waiting for him to come out. There he was and I got a picture with him. It's funny -- I still have the picture. We talked about it and showed it on a couple of NASCAR shows last year when Jeff was doing his farewell tour. My Mom's thumb got over the lens of the camera, so it's one of those pictures with a thumb in it. My Mom got Jeff to sign the photo a couple of years back and she framed it for me with another photo of Jeff and I sitting on the pit wall before driver intros. It's a pretty cool memento and something that links one of my first memories with where I am today. To me, New Hampshire is something special. Really special. Every driver out there has their favorite track and a place that means more to them than others, even if they don’t always tell you. New Hampshire is that place for me. I guess it started when I was just a fan and I went to that race and met Jeff Gordon . Then, when I moved into driving, things still just happened there. I started my first Sprint Cup race there in the No. 96 car back in 2008. Then I won my first Sprint Cup race there the next year in the No. 20. But the most memorable moment to me was when we won there a couple of years ago in the fall race of 2014. That win was hands down the coolest win of my career. The Daytona 500 was neat. I mean who doesn't grow up wanting to be a racecar driver and not want to win the Daytona 500 ? But the New Hampshire win beats it in my opinion. I think you can start to see why. For one, it's my home track. Any win any driver gets at their home track is special. That is why my teammate Brad Keselowski wants to win at Michigan so bad. It's on every driver’s bucket list. On top of that, it was the most challenging, most difficult track I went to as a driver. I sucked there. I literally did not know how to go fast. I remember one time we unloaded there and I started complaining about how bad the car was. Then, I look up and we were P1 on the board. I said, "I don't know how to do this then. I don't know what to tell you, because to me, it drives awful and we’re fast." So over time, I started figuring out that I need this and I need that, and got the car kind of feeling the way it's supposed to. I had a lot of conversations with my crew chief Todd Gordon and we've worked together to make it better. Eventually, we conquered the hardest track for me -- and my home track -- so it's all just worked out and it showed on the track. That win in 2014 was just awesome for me personally. I don't ever get out of the car at the start finish line (after a win). I just want to get to Victory Lane and celebrate with the team. But that was one of those moments where I thought: "I'm getting out of the car, I'm standing on top of it, I'm going to enjoy this moment. It's going to be hard to have a win that’s larger than that." Something else that I love about New Hampshire is the fans. They love NASCAR racing and racing in general in the Northeast. It's what got me to be a fan of the sport. I hope they grab some tickets and come out for an amazing weekend of racing when we go back up there this weekend. You go to Loudon as a New England guy and those are your people. So we try to take advantage of every situation when we're up there to look for ways to help, especially with the "Chasing Second Chances" initiative through the Joey Logano Foundation. We did our golf tournament in Connecticut with the spring race, and a lot of people were able to come to it. To me, all of this racing stuff is great and all, but it's a platform to change people's lives. I feel like it's my calling. I'm supposed to use that. It's a privilege to have that opportunity to do what you're supposed to do in this world. So, yeah, I want to win races and I want to win championships, but I want to do something more with the platform that God’s given me. So through the Joey Logano Foundation and through the Chasing Second Chances program, we're trying to give people another shot at life in the New England area who were the victims of something out of their control or just made a bad decision and are working to make their life better. In all honesty, the whole Chasing Second Chances throughout the next nine weeks (of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ) is a big deal. A lot of cool things for the next nine weeks. For more on Chasing Second Chances, click here . As told to the NASCAR Wire Service's Reid Spencer.
Edwards rallies to sixth-place finish at Loudon after penalty
RELATED: Results " Chase Grid " Standings WATCH: Edwards receives penalty LOUDON, N.H. – Coors Light Pole Award winner Carl Edwards hovered in and around the top five for nearly all of Sunday's Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway but nearly had his afternoon derailed due to a costly penalty with less than 40 laps remaining. During the fourth caution of the day, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver came to pit road and incurred a commitment line violation, sinking his running position all the way back to 19th on the ensuing restart on Lap 268. For a minute there, it certainly appeared Edwards would be fighting for Chase for the Sprint Cup survival next week at Dover International Speedway in the final race of the Round of 16. But Edwards rallied hard over the final 30-plus laps to salvage a sixth-place finish and now holds a 16-point cushion over the cutoff line. He'll need to avoid similar gaffes moving forward -- though he doesn't necessarily agree he even made a gaffe -- and realizes he may have gotten away with one here. "I gotta see the replay, but I was pretty sure I made it onto pit road. I felt pretty comfortable," Edwards said on pit road after the race. "I don't know about that (penalty), but we still recovered well. I think we could've been top three or four because we got off sequence, but as it turned out to finish sixth with that penalty is pretty much a gift. My guys didn't quit, I'm proud of them. "Now we head to Dover with a little bit of a point cushion, and Dover is one of my favorite race tracks, one of my best tracks and this team should have won this race in the spring so hopefully we can go there and lock ourselves into the next round. … Anything can happen, but there's no better race for us to be a cutoff race." Following the race, Edwards' crew chief Dave Rogers had a discussion with NASCAR officials to get clarity on the penalty. "Yeah, NASCAR showed me the notes, and the notes that they had were all four tires below the orange box and our right-rear (tire) touched it," Rogers told NASCAR.com. "So it's one of those deals where we knew it was close, and we didn't intentionally drive over the box, first of all. It was a last-minute call to pit. We thought the rule was all four on or below and it wasn't. The rule's all four under, so hence the penalty." Edwards' teammate Denny Hamlin also was victim to a pit road penalty on the same stop, as an errant tire got away from his No. 11 Toyota crew. Hamlin, however, was not as fortunate as Edwards and finished 15th. The 2016 Daytona 500 winner declined post-race interviews and sits seventh on the Chase Grid, still higher than Edwards despite the worse finish. "Unfortunately, we had a pit road penalty; two stops in the end that got us really far behind and just got kind of shuffled out of the mix on a couple restarts and finished about five to 10 spots worse than we should have, but still alive," said Hamlin's crew chief Mike Wheeler. "Hit the restart button and try again. Dover is a decent track for Denny. He hasn't had a win there yet, but has had some good runs and hopefully we can have another good run there."
Gordon: SHR reached out before Daytona 500
RELATED: Full schedule for Indianapolis " Gordon through the years SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Jeff Gordon 's "un-retirement" from competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series began in earnest Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The four-time Sprint Cup Series champion is filling in for Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Indianapolis and next weekend at Pocono Raceway while Earnhardt recovers from concussion-like symptoms. Almost as surprising as Gordon's return to the driver's seat -- he retired from full-time competition after the 2015 season -- was his disclosure that he had been approached about filling in for the injured Tony Stewart in this year's Daytona 500 . Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet and co-owner of the four-car organization, missed the first eight races after suffering a broken back in an off-road driving incident prior to the start of the 2016 season. Gordon's role as a FOX NASCAR analyst (the network provides coverage of the season's first 16 points races) prohibited him from returning to competition. "The crazy thing about all of this (is) I was asked to drive Tony Stewart 's car in Daytona to start the season," Gordon said Friday. "I wasn't able to do it because of my commitments to FOX. Now Rick (Hendrick, team owner) has some amazing ways to convince people into things that the average person might not be able to. I don't know, maybe he could have called Eric Shanks or something, but no, I don't think so." Shanks is President, COO and Executive Producer of FOX Sports. Stewart is competing in his final season as a driver. Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard will be his final appearance at the famed 2.5-mile track, where he has earned two of his 49 career victories. That Gordon was asked about filling in earlier this season was news to Stewart. "I wasn't (aware)," Stewart said, "but that would have been awesome. That probably would have been one of the coolest things to happen this season. If that happened, I would have been all for it. … "I wasn't aware of that, but that would have been a really cool deal for us." MORE: Dale Jr. out, Gordon in No. 88 at Indianapolis, Pocono
Junior savors NBCSN's re-air of special Daytona win
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Dale Earnhardt Jr . broke into a big smile and sat up in his seat when discussing his interaction on Twitter during NBC's Wednesday night re-broadcast of his emotional 2001 win in Daytona International Speedway 's annual summer race. Earnhardt won that July 400-miler in the series' first return to the Daytona high banks a mere five months after his father, Dale Earnhardt, was killed on the final lap of that year's season-opening Daytona 500 . And according to NBC Sports, Wednesday's night’s replay of Earnhardt Jr.'s victory in the NASCAR summer classic was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter during the broadcast. "A lot of those races when we won, Twitter and social media wasn't around yet," Earnhardt said from Daytona International Speedway , where he is – again – the defending winner of Saturday's Coke Zero 400 here. "It was pretty fun having that instant communication and dialogue. With social media platforms we have today, it felt like we were in a big room with everybody watching it together. "It was good. I love the old stuff. The fans enjoy those iconic races in the sport and there are so many to choose from." And, Earnhardt conceded, it was actually a spontaneous viewing situation for himself. "I really didn't plan on watching the race, it just so happened I was sitting in the house with nothing to do," Earnhardt said, grinning and suggesting the whole experience might be a positive precedent for the sport. "If they get those drivers involved in these events to join in on social media, I think it adds to the experience of people watching. And in my case, if you won the race, it certainly was exciting to be a part of that experience. "I thought it was great and a super-great treat for me. I was super humbled at how everybody plugged in. It's great to be reminded of stuff like that. It was a special night and I'm glad people think it's cool." RELATED: Junior live tweets watching July 2001 Daytona win Earnhardt's famously huge fan base certainly found it a treat -- especially the continual interaction with the two-time Daytona 500 winner as he commented via Twitter throughout the telecast. "It's funny, even after all these years I'm still nervous watching, still leaning one way or another, telling my young self how to drive," Earnhardt tweeted during Wednesday's replay. Just thinking about the whole experience was clearly positive for Earnhardt. And he'd love a rerun this weekend – the victory would essentially punch his ticket to the 2016 Chase for the NASACAR Sprint Cup . "The throwback was a neat treat and I was really humbled by the idea of the network showing the race and appreciating what we accomplished," he said. "It was fun to think about and talk about what happened and see the comments. I appreciated it and I know a lot of the guys involved in that victory were watching and communicating with me. It was a special night."
Hamlin hungry for Daytona sweep
Denny Hamlin talks about the short-term impact of winning the Daytona 500 and expresses his desire to finish the Daytona sweep with wins in the Sprint Unlimited, the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400.
Kyle Busch wrecks hard in opening Daytona practice
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch was involved in a hard crash during Friday's lone practice at Daytona International Speedway when his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota appeared to suffer a right-rear tire failure. Busch, 31, had completed 15 laps during the session but was making a run after coming to the garage for changes to his car. The tires on the car at the time of the incident reportedly had only four laps on them. He was running just behind JGR teammate, and Daytona 500 winner, Denny Hamlin and ahead of teammates Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards when he crashed. "It wasn't any fun, that's for sure," Busch said after being evaluated and released from the infield care center. "Your first instinct is to correct and the car automatically corrects and then finally when it catches or when it hit the apron and caught, it just turned back the other way and head on into the fence. "That was certainly a big hit, so you have to thank NASCAR for their safety advancements in the cars and the drivers' equipment and things like that. Of course the SAFER barrier as well. That could have certainly been a lot worse than it was." The right-front of his car took the brunt of the impact when it crashed hard into the outside wall, and the team will need to go to a backup. No other cars were involved. Goodyear officials said a gash was found in the right-rear tire during its post-crash evaluation of the incident. Only a handful of teams had made it out on the track on Thursday before rain cut short that day's session. Friday morning's practice was the only on-track time for teams before qualifying for Saturday's Coke Zero 400 (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). "That was a hard hit from where I could see," Hamlin said on NBCSN. "Just looked like a cut tire. Went in there, got loose and went the other way. (We were) just trying to log some laps, get some data (and) figure out what we could run as a group." Hamlin said his team had not seen any tire issues, but "I think the 19 (of Edwards) had one go down, a left rear I think, earlier in practice but nothing like that." Edwards said he noticed a vibration in his car during the team's first morning run, "so I pulled in." "I thought it was the driveline (or) engine," Edwards said. "We had a puncture in the tread of the left-rear tire. It was leaking, it was five or 10 pounds low when I came in. "So we got everything back together and went out as a group and going into Turn 1 about four laps into the run, it was Matt in front of me and then Kyle in front of him and then I saw something come out from under Matt's car and I thought 'I wonder what that is?' Then I saw Kyle sideways and ... he drilled the fence. Honestly he hit hard enough (that) I was really worried about him."
McDowell, Smith are Daytona value plays
Mike Forde joins SiriusXM NASCAR Radio to give fantasy advice for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona .
Cayden Lapcevich overcomes hurdles, hardship to break Joey Logano's record
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- At just 16 years old, NASCAR Pinty's Series driver Cayden Lapcevich has already broken a record set by Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano . In 18 starts, the Ontario (Canada) native has become the youngest driver to win a NASCAR series championship, beating out Logano's previous K&N Pro Series East record of 17 years old set in 2007. But it wasn't without trial, tribulation and a dose of his mother's trust. In 2015, Lapcevich put up one top-five and three top-10 finishes in six starts, but come 2016, he found himself down a major sponsor and in need of a team. "We lost that motivation at one point to even go down to the race shop because we just couldn't see ourselves making it out this year," Lapcevich told NASCAR.com. "But I finally was able to convince my mom that I would work on the cars and do it all myself and she was just like, 'If you and your dad can prepare it, we'll do it.' "But even once we had the car prepared, she second-guessed herself. But I don't think she's second-guessing herself anymore. I think she realizes that she made the right decision by letting me go to the first race. "It was hard to get to the first race with very minimal funding, but I'm glad we made the first race because it's led to so much." Lapcevich is a third-generation driver and the son of an electrical contractor. His dad also doubles as his crew chief for the No. 76 Dodge. "I've always looked up to my dad because he's taught me everything I know about racing," Lapcevich said. "He's made me an all-around better race car driver. "Even last year when we had the funding to pay someone (to be my crew chief), as good as it was to have someone so knowledgeable, it didn't feel comfortable not having my dad as my crew chief because he's been my crew chief my whole life. He's always been my driving coach and we just connect so well. I think it's a dream that every driver has." With his dad in his ear and his mother's faith resting on his shoulders, Lapcevich began to build a race team -- a volunteer race team, at that. "A couple of the (pit crew) guys have been around (the sport) for 25 years, plus," Lapcevich said. "They just show the same dedication and passion to the sport that I do and that my dad did and we all want to go out and win. I think that's what keeps the guys that volunteer interested. They want to see what's next and they want to be a part of that." Lapcevich and his team won three Pinty's Series races this season, clinching the 2016 title after taking the green flag on Sunday at Kawartha Speedway. With a championship -- along with a fresh driver's license -- Lapcevich looks ahead to what the future could hold for a record breaker. "Hopefully (next season) brings me down south," Lapcevich said. "I'm hoping that something big comes up and we can put together a ride in K&N or make a few ( Camping World Truck ) starts, but we'll see. I'm still trying to let the championship sink in. "I'd like to see myself in the Sprint Cup Series or racing XFINITY full-time. I've set up some quality goals and I'm trying to chase those goals." As Lapcevich continues to grow and strives to fulfill his racing dream, he keeps in mind the drivers who have also come from similar beginnings. "I look up to guys that started in quarter midgits, like me," Lapcevich said. "Guys like Joey Logano or Ryan Blaney . They've just inspired me knowing that you can come from that starting point and make it to the top. "Also breaking Joey Logano 's record as the youngest champion gives me hope that we're headed in the right direction here." While he admires Logano, ask this teenager who he has winning this 2016 Sprint Cup Series title and his answer has some roots. "I'd like to see Martin Truex Jr . win it all because he's been really consistent this year and he's got Canadian crew chief Cole Pearn who used to race with my dad, so it's really cool to see him climbing the ranks." Hear that, Logano? This kid is breaking your records and picking against you (let it be known, Lapcevich does predict the No. 22 Team Penske driver will make it to the Championship Round). Next thing you know, he could be in your rearview mirror, Joey.
Hamlin returns to site of Daytona 500 win, eyes sweep
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Since Denny Hamlin first arrived in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full time in 2006 he had an immediate positive relationship with Daytona International Speedway winning his first-ever Budweiser Shootout as a rookie in the days leading up to the season-opening Daytona 500 . Since then, Hamlin has won that event two more times including this February -- just 8 days before he pulled off an amazing last lap pass to claim his maiden Daytona 500 victory in the closest finish in the race's great 58-year history. A win in Saturday's Coke Zero 400 would give Hamlin another unique claim to Daytona fame -- a season sweep of the Sprint Cup events plus a win in the Shootout giving him three victories (including both points races) at the track in a single season. Only Bobby Allison (1982) and Fireball Roberts (1962) have swept both Daytona premier series races and won an exhibition event too. Jimmie Johnson (2013), Cale Yarborough (1968) and LeeRoy Yarbrough (1969) are the other drivers to win both Sprint Cup races in a year. "It was about five years ago that something happened on the restrictor plate race tracks where I just -- it clicked and I got it," Hamlin said Thursday. "I can name a few instances it's really helped me, but I don't want to necessarily say that, but I just feel comfortable. I feel like I know what I'm doing and the results have showed it." The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota hasn't finished worse than sixth in his last five Daytona starts, including a runner-up in the 2014 Daytona 500 and a third place showing in last year's Coke Zero 400 -- a streak of success even better than one of the track's true superstars, Dale Earnhardt Jr . Earnhardt has a pair of Cup race wins during that same five-race span -- including the 2014 Daytona 500 and this race last year -- but finished 36th in this year's Daytona 500 and 14th in this race in 2014. Despite the impressive numbers, Hamlin is well aware that his current success streak is a rare outcome at a restrictor plate track. "Eventually, we're going to get in a wreck," Hamlin allowed with a slight smile. "I think we did at -- yeah, we did at Talladega, but I've just been very fortunate on superspeedways and the bad finishes that I've had it's not because something I feel like I did. It was something that I could caught up in, so I've been fortunate. "It's been a great battle with the 88 ( Dale Earnhardt Jr .) probably the last four years with me and him. There's been a lot of one-two finishes with us and hopefully I'd love to complete the sweep winning the Unlimited, the 500 and the July race. I feel like I gift basket-ed him that dual win on Thursday this year, so I'd like to get him back here in July." A win this weekend would be key not just in Daytona historical context. Other than a fantastic runner-up finish to Tony Stewart on the Sonoma Raceway road course last week, Hamlin hasn't posted the kind of consistently good showings he might have liked. Especially with the way the season began. In the last seven races, Hamlin has three top-10s and three finishes of 30th or worse -- two of those sub-par finishes, a result of crashes. But just looking at Hamlin's face and his demeanor, it's easy to tell he brings an unmistakable confidence to Daytona Beach. And he's earned it honestly. He'll start ninth in the Coke Zero 400 -- surrounded by all his three Joe Gibbs Racing teammates who qualified second ( Carl Edwards ), third ( Kyle Busch ) and seventh ( Matt Kenseth ). Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr ., who Hamlin edged for the Daytona win in February, will start 15th. "Anytime we can work together, I try for sure," Hamlin said of his Toyota teammates. "I don't know that it was a plot to take out one car by any means. I thought we showed a lot of speed with just our cars in practice looking at lap times with what we would run as a group of five. Simple math says what the pack was going to run and I knew that if we could stay in a line and commit to each other, it would be tough for others to pass us. It worked out well. "Legitimately there were five Toyotas out to win on the final lap and that's really all we could have asked for. It was something that was in the works for a long time and it was executed perfectly by our whole organization and it worked out. Obviously any time you are successful like that you try to repeat it, but the competitors have a lot of say in that, so there are others who are going to have issue with what our plan is." "Really this track has been very good to me throughout my career," Hamlin said. "We hope to complete the sweep this weekend."
2015 Daytona 500 champ Denny Hamlin gets his trophy ... wait, what?
As writers and editors ourselves, we don't like to poke fun at other outlets when typos and mistakes arise. They happen. But it seems like there's a rain cloud following Denny Hamlin around right now, showering him with "Dannys" and "Hamiltons." You had 1 job @brantjames :) #blamejimmy @JimmieJohnson pic.twitter.com/vD5Tsng79I — Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) August 9, 2016 I'm disappointed in you too @PaulPabst pic.twitter.com/7SQXPC1tML — Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) August 9, 2016 But the latest one takes the (probably misnamed birthday) cake. It just hasn't been the best week as far as mis-prints go. pic.twitter.com/AmpY7XOCd3 — Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) August 9, 2016 Hamlin, of course, won the 2016 Daytona 500 , a mere six months ago. Wonder what Joey Logano -- the 2015 winner -- thinks about all this?