Happy Returns: Joey Logano Relishing Returns Home To New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Republished from the Hartford Courant
By Shawn Courchesne ~ Special To The Courant

Joey Logano (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)

LOUDON, N.H. – In 2018 New Hampshire Motor Speedway will go from hosting two NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series events to one.

The track will lose its September event, which is being moved to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It’s not something that makes Joey Logano very happy.

The Middletown native and Monster Energy Cup Series star considers New Hampshire Motor Speedway his home track.

After nearly a decade at the top level of NASCAR, being New England’s star has become something that the 27-year old has grown to appreciate more and more.

Friday Logano joked that coming home for him makes him feel like NASCAR’s most popular driver.

“I always joke that when I come up here to New Hampshire I feel like I am Dale [Earnhardt Jr.] because everybody likes me,” Logano said. “There aren’t many other places everybody likes me.”

Logano goes looking for his third career Monster Energy Cup Series victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday in the Overton’s 301. But racing hasn’t been the only focus for Logano the past week on his return north from his home in North Carolina.

The Logano family moved to Georgia when he was nine years old, in part to forward his racing career, but he and his family have always clung tight to their Nutmeg state roots.

He was in Connecticut last week hosting his Drive Hope Home golf tournament to raise fund for the Joey Logano Foundation.

“As you get older and become more successful and are around more, more in the limelight, you remember your roots more and more,” Logano said. “Maybe some people are the other way but for me I certainly do. I have a great group of friends in Connecticut. Family friends that have been around forever. They are so supportive. All of New England really is like that.

“… I want to race here three or four times a year. That part is nice. I really appreciate that. it is kind of cool being one of the only drivers from the New England area. It makes it very unique and special for me to come up to this race track and this area. As I get older I realize that more and more. Not that I am old but as I have been around a little longer and seen this stuff, it is special for me to come up here.”

With the homecoming warmth behind him, Logano’s focus will turns to the track Sunday. The Penske Racing driver

With eight races remaining before NASCAR sets the field for its Chase for the Championship, Logano is still looking to lock up a spot in the 16-driver playoff field. He currently sits 12th in the Monster Energy Cup Standings.

“Very surprised,” Logano said when asked about not being locked into the Chase field at this point. “This isn’t what you expect when you start the season. You go out there expecting to win the championship and the playoffs you just assume you would be there. I still assume we are going to be there. We just have to work hard to get there.”

Logano has one win earlier this year, which should have locked him into the Chase, but NASCAR penalized his team after finding a rear suspension issue with his car in post-race tech inspection part of the penalty was losing the automatic entry into the playoff field from getting the win.

“Our team is still capable of winning,” said Logano, the 2015 Daytona 500 winner. “We do have to get a little more speed in our cars. I think that is apparent. … Ultimately we need to win a race, or two, or three. As it comes closer you start thinking about that more but I also think about how this team has won three races in a row. You do that and all of a sudden the whole story is changed and we would have the most points starting the playoffs. It can change in the snap of a finger. Any team can take off on a streak like that. It is a matter of getting the speed back. I feel the team is where it needs to be.”

Logano is hoping he’ll get to leave his “home track” Sunday with a victory and his spot locked into the playoffs.

“This race track has always been a special place for me because it is home,” Logano said. “I started my first Cup race here, watched my first one here, won our first one here. It makes it a special place anytime I come here. … It is one of the most special places to win. When we won [the Sylvania 300 in Sept 2014 at NHMS] I look at that as the biggest win of my career. Bigger than the Daytona 500 to me. That is what this track means to me. If we can make it happen again – we will try our hardest and hopefully get it.”

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