Logano: “I’m starting to see the benefits of starting as young as I did”

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Joey Logano’s nickname may be “Sliced Bread,” but he’s aging rather like a fine wine – getting better and more mature with age.

Now 24, Logano, who at 18 went through a tough learning process as he adapted to running full-time in NASCAR Sprint Cup, is now finally reaching the potential many identified when he was a talented, but still raw, teenager.

“I’ve said this earlier this year, but I’m finally starting to see the benefits of starting as young as I did,” Logano told reporters at his media availability Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“When I was 18, I had the cake and the car that was gonna be my first race in Dover. Now at 24, that was a while ago, but I’m seeing the benefits. I’m starting to reach my peak of where I need to be.”

Logano had to endure a number of negative headlines and press through his upbringing and struggles with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Now, into his second year at Team Penske and tied for the most number of wins this season (five, shared with teammate Brad Keselowski), Logano is handling the positive accolades with humility and with respect knowing he still has more to accomplish.

“I’m doing OK with it, and it’s a lot easier when it’s positive!” he said. “One of the coolest things now is we’re the points leader. So parking in the first spot, first garage stall, it is something special. It’s never happened before. I’ve been able to handle all the press. It’s easier when it’s positive. But as Roger likes to say, you can’t trip over your own press clippings.”

Asked what he’d proven this season, Logano said that could mean different things to different parties.

“I’ve hopefully proven I should be here,” he said. “To me, that’s an interesting question. That’s different to everyone. It could be a championship, it could be multiple race wins in a season, it could be top-10s.

“To me, I’m never where I want to be. I’m never good enough. That’s something that’s gotten me to this point. You take it within reason, otherwise you don’t have any confidence. But know you’re not perfect or where you need to be. If you think you are, it’s only a couple weeks until someone passes you.”

Looking back on what’s been a career season, Logano can afford to enjoy the ride a bit over the next couple weeks before clamping down and needing to worry about advancing again from the Eliminator round after Phoenix heading into Homestead.

“I’ve enjoyed the whole roll of it. Without the experience I had, I wouldn’t be the person I am now,” he said. “I’m lucky I went through that. I understand now what it means to be sitting here. I needed it as a person. I wanted to make sure to enjoy the moment.”

Logano has a different livery on his No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford this weekend, now adorned in Pennzoil Platinum colors.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).