An F-16 flight broadened Joey Logano‘s perspective on military commitment

A fixture on Memorial Day weekend, the Coca-Cola 600 has always been a way for NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway to honor those who serve in the United States Armed Forces.

From special paint schemes to names of fallen heroes adorning cars to spectacular pre-race displays, NASCAR‘s longest race occupies a special place on the racing calendar.

No driver has described the relationship between the Coca-Cola 600 and those who have fought and died for our country more eloquently than Joey Logano, who put the significance of the weekend into perspective during a question-and-answer session with reporters on Friday afternoon.

Logano got a first-hand look at the military experience recently during a trip in an F-16 fighter aircraft.

“When I was in the jet itself, we were flying around and doing all of these incredible maneuvers and I was thinking, ‘Imagine if someone was trying to shoot me right now,‘” Logano said. “That‘s a whole different game, or whatever the mission may be, and you have to make those really, really hard decisions—hard decisions—not whether we should pit and put two tires on or stay out.

“That‘s a very small decision in comparison to what these people are doing. That‘s why I love this weekend so much. I really do appreciate it, and my perspective changed years ago because of these things and I wish that everyone would get to experience that.

“But I think we do a good job here at Charlotte with the speedway and Coca-Cola together trying to not only honor our military because they deserve it, but help our country understand a little bit more of what they go through and helps reminds us that every Memorial Day Weekend, but we should be reminded every day. I think that‘s hard to do sometimes because we‘re in our little world.”

Chase Elliott has confidence in the logistics of Kyle Larson‘s double

Kyle Larson faces the daunting task of running 1,100 miles in one day—weather permitting—but Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott has no worries about the plans in place to get Larson back to Charlotte from the Indianapolis 500, the first leg of the Indy 500/Coca-Cola 600 double.

Elliott has been following Larson‘s progress at Indy primarily through Larson‘s NASCAR Cup Series crew chief, Cliff Daniels. Larson qualified fifth for the 500 last Sunday, then flew to North Wilkesboro and finished fourth in the NASCAR All-Star Race.

“Yeah, I‘ve tried to keep up, for sure,” said Elliott, who is doing a double of his own this weekend, competing in both the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series races at Charlotte. “It‘s been fun to watch, what I have been able to keep up with. It seems like they‘ve been doing a great job at Indy.

“Obviously I work closely with Cliff—I hear a lot from him and whatnot, way more than the IndyCar side, so I‘m hearing most of it from him. He‘s an extremely well-prepared guy. I know he‘s going to do his part to make sure his side of the picture goes really well. So I wouldn‘t be concerned about that at all, if I was Kyle or anybody else.

There may be a tight window to get Larson back to Charlotte after the conclusion of the Indianapolis 500, if IndyCar can dodge the severe weather that has been plaguing the Midwest.

“It seems like just the logistics, the plans and the backup plans and all that stuff with the aviation group and everything else; they‘re all just top-notch people. At Hendrick Motorsports, (owner) Rick (Hendrick) does a really good job of choosing the people that work in different departments. Everyone is excited about it, and I think it‘s really cool for everyone involved.

“Everyone is playing a role in making it happen. It‘s such a team effort to make sure he can get back and forth and do all the right things. I think any time that you have an opportunity like that to tie in more people that already work at the company, I think is super healthy because it gives people the opportunity to be a part of something that they might not normally be on a given weekend, which is fun.”

Key to Ty Gibbs‘ improvement is the joy of learning

Clearly, Ty Gibbs is a quick study.

In his first full season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2022) he won seven races and the series championship. In 60 career Xfinity starts, Gibbs has won 12 times, a stellar 20 percent.

Last year, in his first full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series, the grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs scored four top fives and 10 top 10s. In 13 races this season, Gibbs already has matched his top-five total from the previous season, with a best finish of second at Darlington in his most recent start.

With a strong work ethic, Gibbs enjoys the process of improvement as he seeks his first career Cup victory. To prepare for Saturday‘s Xfinity race, Gibbs didn‘t do simulation work but relied on other sources of information to prepare for his double-duty stint.

“I really enjoy the practice of getting better and learning and gaining more knowledge and learning my craft more,” Gibbs said on Friday after winning the pole for Saturday‘s BetMGM 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race. “I really enjoy that, and I think that‘s what makes my weeks so much more fun than others.

“I feel like I enjoy getting better and working at it. Like I said, I didn‘t run the Xfinity sim, which was nice. It was a different approach, but to be honest, depending on your car, I feel like all of the answers are out there.

“We have film. We have SMT (data). I can watch everybody in this sport. We have all the advantages to do it. If you really want to get better, you can get better, and that‘s what I‘ve experienced myself.”

— NASCAR Wire Service —

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