At an event to kick off NASCAR Championship Weekend in Miami on Thursday, November 15, Comcast announced Joey Logano as the winner of the fourth annual Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award. Comcast established the award in 2015 to honor NASCAR industry members for their philanthropic efforts, awarding $60,000 to the champion’s selected charity and $30,000 to the respective charities of the two remaining finalists. With this year’s contributions, Comcast has donated a total of $480,000 to charitable organizations in the NASCAR community through the Community Champion Award.

Since its inception in 2013, the Joey Logano Foundation has invested more than $2.7 million to hundreds of organizations through a multitude of charitable programs. The Foundation created the JL Kids Crew to help provide opportunities for children with serious illnesses to spend time at the race track and be part of the No. 22 race team. Through JLF’s Grant Funding Program, the Foundation delivers grants to organizations dedicated to helping families that care for sick children, foster children and children of veterans.

“It is an honor to recognize Joey Logano as the 2018 Comcast Community Champion of the Year, as the work he does with the Joey Logano Foundation truly embodies the selfless and passionate spirit of giving back that this award represents,” said Matt Lederer, Executive Director of Partnership Marketing at Comcast. “So many of those in the NASCAR industry have a passion for giving back to their communities, and we are proud to play a part in celebrating those passions with this award.”

During the course of the NASCAR season, the Joey Logano Foundation also brings Comfort Care Backpacks to multiple race markets and has donated over 600 backpacks filled with essentials to underprivileged, foster and terminally ill children. The Joey Logano Foundation uses its powerful platform during NASCAR’s Playoffs to aid 10 non-profit organizations in 10 different NASCAR markets, via their Chasing Second Chances program, an effort to help racing communities prosper.

The $60,000 donation from Comcast  will be provided to the Joey Logano Foundation, and will support the Foundation’s efforts as they continue to provide aid to organizations that help children and young adults during times of crisis. You can learn about the work the Joey Logano Foundation provides here.

“Looking back on this day, we’ll know that Comcast was a big piece in giving a lot of young kids the second chance in life that they need,” said Joey Logano, one of the Championship Four drivers competing for the NASCAR Cup title this weekend. “It’s humbling to think about what this sport can do for you - it’s just the right thing to do to take that and carry it forward.”

Logano was chosen by a panel comprised of Comcast and NASCAR executives, as well as Mike Metcalf from the Chip Ganassi Racing Pit Crew Department, who received  the award in 2017. Sonoma Raceway President, Steve Page, and NASCAR driver, Ryan Newman, were each awarded $30,000 toward the amazing work they do with Speedway Children’s Charities Wildfire Relief Fund and Rescue Ranch.

Page supported his community in Northern California after last year’s devastating wildfires by opening the gates of Sonoma Raceway as a place of refuge for those evacuated, raising funds for the community to rebuild and honoring first-responders during the NASCAR race weekend. Newman co-founded Rescue Ranch in 2012 with his wife, Krissie, to promote respect for all animals, the earth and the environment through a wide variety of educational programs in the community. The Ranch is home to more than 85 animals that receive around-the clock care, and serves as host to various school curriculum-based field trips, Scout badge programs, summer camps and more. Each finalist’s story can be viewed by clicking here.

Comcast has a long track record of community service, aiding in the advancement of local organizations, developing programs and partnerships, mobilizing resources to connect people and inspiring positive and substantive change. To learn more about the Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award, please visit ComcastCommunityChampion.com

Comcast PR

Katarina Moller, 24, of Sarasota, Fla., passed away as a result of an accident during an exhibition run in a jet dragster at Sebring International Raceway Thursday night.

Moller was making her first run in the car at Sebring’s regular drag racing event.

The cause of the crash is being investigated by the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, and investigators are asking any spectators who were in attendance and recorded Moller’s run to call the Criminal Investigation Unit at 863-402-7250.

Moller, who went by the nickname Kat, was a regular, and very popular, racer at local short tracks and a driver for Larsen Motorsports in the jet dragster.  She was in her fifth season with Larsen.

“We knew Kat well and were big fans of her personality and her driving skill,” said Wayne Estes, president and general manager of Sebring International Raceway.  “Sebring International Raceway and the entire racing community are heartbroken.”

Sebring International Raceway PR

The Bristol Motor Speedway Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities (SCC) culminated another landmark year of raising much-needed funds for disadvantaged children of the greater Appalachian region Thursday night during its annual Night of Smiles celebration.  

Executive director Claudia Byrd announced that the BMS SCC chapter raised a substantial total of $805,141 during the 2018 calendar year that will be distributed to 93 rural-area child-focused agencies throughout Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

“There’s no greater gift than to be able to help raise money for children in need,” Byrd said. “Although demand for assistance will always exceed our ability to help, we are blessed to work with so many inspiring organizations in this region that are focused on providing vital assistance to the children who need it most.”

The 2018 Jeff Byrd Grant also was awarded to the Boys & Girls Club of Central Appalachia. Presented in honor of the late general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, the $50,000 award will go towards the organization’s efforts to create a sensory room within each of the four elementary/middle schools in Buchanan County where the Boys & Girls Club operates. Sensory rooms are designed to help students who have been diagnosed with autism, cope with stressful situations, regulate sensory needs and reduce challenging behaviors that are the result of overstimulation. The spaces will equally support students with ADD, ADHD and other sensory-related issues.

Night of Smiles is the culmination of a year of SCC fundraising events, including multiple 5k races, golfing and trap shooting tournaments during NASCAR and NHRA race weekends, the Ultimate Bristol Experience Online Auction and The Pinnacle Speedway in Lights powered by TVA, which opens for its 22nd season on Friday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m.
 
Organizations that received funding from the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities includes Abuse Alternatives, American Red Cross of Mountain Empire Virginia, Arc of Washington Co., Assistance and Resource Ministry (ARM), Barter Foundation, Bethany Christian Services, Big Brothers/ Big Sisters of East Tennessee, Boys and Girls Club of Central Appalachia, Boys and Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter Co., Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kingsport, Boys and Girls Club of Greenville & Greene County, Boys and Girls Club of Johnson City/Washington County, Boys and Girls Club of Morristown, Boys and Girls Club of the Mountain Empire, Bread of Life Children’s Ministry, Bristol Emergency Food Pantry, Bristol Faith In Action, Bristol Family YMCA Teen Leadership Club, Bristol Regional Speech and Hearing, Cap the Gap for Foster Care, Cap the Gap for Foster Care- Carter Johnson and Unicoi, Carter County Foster Care, Carter Co. Imagination Library, CASA of Northeast Tennessee, Children's Advocacy Center of the 1st Judicial District, Children's Advocacy Center of Highlands Community Services, Children's Advocacy Center of Sullivan Co., Child Advocacy Center of the 3rd Judicial District, Children Exceeding Expectations School JLK, Christmas Box of Northeast Tennessee, Coalition for Kids, Communities In Schools of Virginia, Crossroads Medical Mission, Crumley House Brain Injury Rehab Center, East TN Christian Home and Academy, Family Crisis Support Services, Family Promise of Greater Kingsport, Feeding America Southwest Virginia, First Book-Greater Kingsport, FRIENDS, Friends of Steel Creek Park, Girls Incorporated of Bristol, Girls Incorporated of Johnson City/Washington County, Girls Incorporated of Kingsport, Girls on the Run of NE. Tennessee, Good Samaritan Ministries, Greater Kingsport Family YMCA, Greene County Imagination Library, Holston Habitat for Humanity, Hands On!  Discovery Center, Healing Hands Health Center, Hope House, Hope House of Scott Co., Imagination Library of Bristol VA, Imagination Library of Russell County, Isaiah 117 House, Jeremiah School, Jerico Shriners, Johnson Co. Safe Haven, Jonesville Methodist Church Feeding America Food Pantry #300, Literacy Council of Kingsport, Lunchbox 276, McClure River Valley Community Center, Morrison School, Mountain Kids Inc, Mountain Region Speech and Hearing Center, Niswonger Children's Hospital -- Mountain States/Ballad Health, Of One Accord Ministry, One Acre Café, Reading Buddies, Ridin' High Therapeutic Horse Program, Rise Up!, River's Way, Outdoor Adventure Center, Santa Pal, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast TN, Shepard's Inn, Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Southern Appalachian Ronald McDonald House, Southwest VA CAC - Mountain Empire Older Citizens, Sullivan County Imagination Library, Sullivan County Scottish Rite Foundation, Sullivan Co. Sheriff's Office Auxiliary, TASK: Taking Action for Special Kids, TLC Community Center, Town Square Inc. Food Ministries, Unicoi County Family YMCA, United Way of Southwest Virginia, Waiting to Hear, Washington County Friends of Santa, Young Life Bristol, Young Life Kingsport, Young Life Upper East Tennessee, YWCA NETN and SWVA.

BMS PR

The Christopher Bell who showed up for Championship 4 Media Day at The Edition on Thursday bore little resemblance to the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender who has dominated the NASCAR Xfinity Series with seven victories this season.

From outward appearances, it was the same driver who rallied from adversity to win last Saturday’s event at ISM Raceway—where victory was the only avenue to the title race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

What was markedly different was his approach to the season finale.

Throughout the season—indeed, throughout a career that started on the dirt tracks of his native Oklahoma—Bell has proudly declared his win-or-crash mentality. But that won’t be his mind-set on Saturday, as he races Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick and Daniel Hemric for the Xfinity championship.

“The only thing different is we’re only racing three cars,” Bell said. “Instead of going out there and trying to win the race, all I have to do is beat three competitors. So whether that means running 20th or winning the race, that’s going to be our goal, just to beat three guys.”

But isn’t that a radical departure for a driver committed to winning, whether it’s an Xfinity race or the Chili Bowl, the marquee event for open-wheeled Midget race cars?

“Yeah, it’s definitely a change of pace,” Bell said. “And it’s a lot more relaxing to look at it that way. Unfortunately, those three cars are more than likely going to be racing for the win, so we understand that we might be in a must-win situation.

“But that’s great, because I was last week, too… Last week I had to beat 39 competitors if I wanted to advance.”

In last year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finale, Bell won the title by finishing second to Chase Briscoe, who wasn’t eligible for the championship. Bell would be equally delighted to secure the Xfinity title in the same manner.

“This week I could care less about winning the race,” said Bell, who plans to stay in the Xfinity Series with Joe Gibbs racing next year. “I just want to win the championship.”

Bell and Reddick also are currently in a dead heat for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title. As Championship 4 qualifiers, they enter the season finale tied with 4,000 points. The higher finisher of the two will claim the honor.

Neither the race for the championship nor the race for rookie honors will be easy for Bell, despite the smaller number of adversaries. In his only start in the Xfinity Series, Bell finished 36th last year when his engine expired after 78 laps.

But Kyle Busch, who fielded the trucks Bell ran in his championship season, has confidence in his protégé.

“I think Bell has a lot of potential,” Busch said. “I think he's also worked with a lot of really good people, too.  Being with KBM, being with (crew chief Jerry) Baxter, and being with Rudy (Fugle) and being with Joe Gibbs Racing with Jason Ratcliff… Jason, we're lucky to have kept Jason.  He's a Cup level guy, no question about that. 

“For him to stick it out with Joe Gibbs Racing to go back to the Xfinity racing and work with Christopher Bell, I hope that reaps the benefits it should, that he gets to move back up to Cup with Christopher.

“He has the whole situation, and he's obviously done a great job with it. There's no question about that. He's definitely talented. I've seen him race late models and have gone to those when I was hurt in 2015. He’s a lot of fun to watch behind the wheel as well too. He's getting it right now, and I wish him the best this weekend. I hope he brings it home.”

As Bell would add, even if it means bringing home a championship without a first-place finish.

 

As the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway approaches, it’s only natural for each of the title competitors to express confidence about the prospects in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400. 

But with all the success they’ve enjoyed this year, do any of NASCAR’s “Big Three” drivers really have an edge in the season finale (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)?

That depends on your perspective. Kyle Busch won the final event in the Round of 8 last Sunday at ISM Raceway in Phoenix to lock up his spot in the championship race. But that win came on a relatively flat one-mile track, a far cry from the banked 1.5-mile intermediate speedway that will determine this year’s champion.

Obviously, any time you can go to Victory Lane, it certainly means that you've been the latest winner, and you can go on into the next week kind of riding a high, but it's a totally different track, totally different everything,” Busch said on Thursday during Championship 4 Media Day at The Miami EDITION. 

“Different circumstances on the line this weekend, obviously. A great final four here, one of the best we've seen, I think—kind of the entirety of the year.

Indeed, Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.—the Big Three—have combined to win 20 of the 35 events contested so far this year. Busch and Harvick have claimed a series-best eight victories each, and Truex, the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, has taken a checkered flag four times.

But Truex hasn’t won since he beat Ryan Blaney to the finish line at Kentucky Speedway on July 14, and Harvick’s Nov. 4 victory at Texas was his first since Aug. 12 at Michigan. Since then, Brad Keselowski, who was eliminated from the Playoffs in the Round of 12, posted three victories, tops in the series over the last 12 races.

Collectively, the Big Three won 17 of the first 23 races, a pace that has fallen off to three of the last 12, with Busch winning Playoff races at Richmond and Phoenix and Harvick winning at Texas (though he lost the benefits of the victory because of an infraction with the rear spoiler).

Accordingly, the only driver who didn’t have to fight for his place in the Championship 4 race at Phoenix was Martinsville winner Joey Logano, who hopes to be a very different kind of spoiler come Sunday, when he can win his first series title by topping the Big Three.

Logano is the only driver among the four who doesn’t have a title at NASCAR’s highest level on his resume. Harvick won the Cup championship in 2014, the first year of the elimination format. Busch followed in 2015, despite missing the first 11 races of the season because of injuries sustained in the February NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona.

Truex won his first title last year, holding off Busch in the closing laps to prevail at Homestead. In fact, Logano is the only one of the four who didn’t race for last year’s championship. Brad Keselowski, Logano’s teammate at Team Penske, was the fourth driver in the mix in 2017.

“It's the exact same four organizations that were here last year,” Harvick said. “Three of the four (drivers).”

“Yeah, it just depends on whether Brad or Joey are better drivers,” Truex quipped. “I'm not sure.”

“They both run into you a lot,” added Busch, referencing some on-track incidents between Truex and the Penske drivers, most recently when Logano moved Truex out of the way in the final corner to win at Martinsville.

“Probably best I keep my mouth shut on this one,” Logano chimed in.

Though the four Championship 4 races to date have produced four different winners (including 2016 champion Jimmie Johnson), there has bee a consistent theme: the winner of the championship has also won the final race.

Will that be the case when the Big Three and Logano take to the track on Sunday?

“I don't know,” said Truex, who will drive with the added weight of list last start with the Furniture Row Racing team, which will close its doors after Sunday’s race. “I mean, that's why we race, to find out. It's hard to say, but it's going to take a great effort. I feel like you're going to have to run first or second. From what Harvick said, he reminded me about (Kyle) Larson (who has mastered the high groove at Homestead). So, yeah, first or second is probably what it's going to take.

“I think, for me last year, that situation required me to put in perfect laps, with Kyle chasing me down. I knew he was faster. He was faster in the long run all night long, so I had to do something, find something, and one mistake, it was going to be over. So when you're put in those positions—and that's what I think was really cool for me personally about winning that race was the situation I was put in, I was able to overcome it. 

“I didn't fold. I didn't buckle under pressure. I didn't let it get to me. I was able to take care of it and get the job done. So that was really cool to beat somebody like Kyle in that situation.”

Busch would prefer to avoid a similar result this year. Scoring his 51st Cup victory at Phoenix, Busch surpassed NASCAR Hall of Famers Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson on the career win list. But Busch also craves a second title.

Obviously, you kind of see it right now with this group of four,” Busch said. “You've got three one‑timers and a zero-timer. But that will allow either another one‑timer, which only leaves Jimmie (Johnson) as the only repeat champion, or finally you see another guy kind of step into his own with being able to win two. 

“There's been a lot of great champions in our sport, and many of them only have that one championship. I think it would solidify the first in making your history in this sport.

Harvick won’t have the services of crew chief Rodney Childers or car chief Robert “Cheddar” Smith his weekend. Both were suspended as part of the L1 penalty for the illegal spoiler. But Harvick has a history of overcoming adversity, even under unlikely circumstances.

The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford faced a must-win scenario at Phoenix in 2014. He won and advanced to the Championship 4 Round. Harvick then won again in the final race to secure his title.

“For me, there's always some incentive in proving people that you can do something that isn't what they think you should do,” Harvick said. “I think as you look—you can look at my whole career. ‘You shouldn't win. You couldn't win. Then you did.’

“Last week it was, ‘This penalty is going to slow them down.’ Like I told you last week, when they take 10 away, we find 20. It's just the mentality of the race team. It's always push the limits. When they back you against the wall, make it better than it was before.”

When the Big Three and Logano race at Homestead this weekend, it won’t be a matter of who’s better. It will be a matter of who’s best. With the race still three days away, all four drivers can make a case for their respective superiority.

On Sunday’ they’ll get a chance to prove it.

Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle as you search for the perfect holiday gifts for the adrenaline pumping NASCAR fanatic in your life: Food City 500 tickets make the perfect stocking stuffers!

Single day tickets to one of the most anticipated short track races in the country at Bristol Motor Speedway start at only $45 through this Saturday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. And with the new SMI Weather Guarantee, NASCAR fans' ticket purchases are protected. In addition to the $45 Food City 500 tickets, kids 12-and-under are only $10 for three days of action!

“The greatest short track racing in the world happens right here in Northeast Tennessee, and all of that racing action packaged with a bow on top makes the perfect gift,” said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway. “Our lowest ticket price is available until this Saturday, so we hope you will take advantage of that great deal and add some BMS tickets to your holiday shopping list.”

The Food City 500 weekend, April 5-7, is loaded with entertainment for the whole family. From Food City Family Race Night to pre-race concerts to activities in the Fan Zone and Fan Midway, there’s something for everyone, especially kids. Those little NASCAR fans under the age of 12 can see action in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR K&N Series for only $10. Add on a free membership to the Bristol Kids Club and you’ll have a racing fan for life!

Want to really show your NASCAR fan the true meaning of the holidays? Check out the add-on Pre-Race SuperPass or Pre-Race Pit Stop options. The Pre-Race SuperPass provides fans with a pre-race track walk, track access for the pre-race concert and stageside access for Bristol’s wildly popular driver introductions. The Pre-Race Pit Stop takes that to the next level with a cold pit pass for garage access as well as a members-only area complete with driver appearances, live music and entertainment and a cash bar.

Best of all, the Speedway will continue to offer interest-free, fee-free payment plans, which will break up payments into smaller increments. The sooner a fan purchases a plan, the smaller their payments will be.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please call the BMS Ticket Office at 423-BRISTOL or visit www.BRISTOLTix.com.

BMS PR

Vinnie Miller is looking forward to ripping off his rookie stripes after the running of the EcoBoost 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday, November 17th.

Miller will pilot the No. 78 JAS Expedited Trucking BJ McLeod Motorsports Camaro in the series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This will be Miller’s first trip to the 1.5-mile track in Homestead, FL.

“I’m excited to get to Homestead-Miami Speedway and dodge the rainy weather in North Carolina,” Miller said. “I can’t wait to get on track. I’ve heard it is insane and a very hard track to learn. I’m ready to conquer the track and bring home a solid finish for JAS Expedited Trucking and BJ McLeod Motorsports. I can’t thank Tony from JAS Expedited, Pit Viper Sunglasses and my family for all the support this season. I’m looking forward to the 2019 season with these BJ McLeod Motorsports guys, after a little time off.”

The EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway is slated to begin Saturday, November 17th at 3:00pm.

BJMM PR

Joey Logano may not have been a certifiable member of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ “Big 3” this season as were the most prolific winners Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. But Logano arrived in South Florida Thursday looking every bit the “Feared Fourth.”

A two-time race winner and the first driver to officially claim his ticket to Sunday’s championship race, the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), Logano may well be just the wild card to keep these three former champions honest.

And it didn’t take long for that to be tested.

Only one question into Thursday’s championship contenders press conference and Logano was playfully targeted by his more veteran counterparts.  Reigning Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. – who lost a trophy to Logano at Martinsville, Va. three weeks ago in an aggressive last lap battle – took the first shot.

The drivers were asked to comment about how the same four organizations are being represented in the championship last year – except that it was Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski representing Team Penske, not Logano, who failed to qualify for the Playoffs for the first time in three years.

“Yeah, it just depends on whether Brad or Joey are better drivers.  I'm not sure,’’ Truex said.

To which Busch replied, “They both run into you a lot.” As the laughter subsided, Logano smiled and the 28-year old simply uttered, “Probably best I keep my mouth shut on this one.’’

That’s the way the media availability started off – good-natured ribbing that turned into the occasional soul-searching and race day prognosticating. All season, Busch, Harvick and Truex have dominated the headlines. Busch and Harvick have eight wins each and Truex has four – the three highest totals in the series.

However, Logano has been an overachiever since he arrived in NASCAR’s big leagues at the tender age of just 20. And especially since securing a job with legendary team owner Roger Penske, Logano has proven himself up to the many challenges he’s faced on track.

He’ll have one this weekend.

But Logano is certainly no weak link. He’s proven himself ready to rub fenders and bend feelings with the best of them – so much so that it’s easy to forget he’s not even 30-years old yet and this is his third opportunity to win NASCAR’s biggest championship.

He won at Talladega, Ala. this spring and then went door-to-door with Truex for the all-important Playoff win that sealed his position as a championship eligible driver. While so much of the championship buzz is about those Big 3, Logano is calm and confident about his chances as well.

“All season long, the big three have been talked about so much this year earlier in the season, they've won so many races and so many stages and led so many laps,’’ Logano said.

“Honestly, I guess maybe it was 15, 20 weeks ago, we weren't in the championship caliber that we needed to be to be able to compete with them. Now, I will say since that time we are.  I feel like we do have what it takes to compete with them and give them a run for their money. Like I said, it's the big three and me. I might be the underdog on the stats standpoint, but we sure don't feel like we are.”

Yes, Logano concedes, his win column doesn’t match up exactly with his three competitors this weekend, but he does like the timing of his team’s coming of age.

He is averaging a 9.4 finish in the Playoffs – best among the contenders. He has seven top-10 finishes in the nine Playoff races and five top-five finishes; also top shelf among the Playoff foursome. His best finish at Homestead is fourth (2015, 2016).

As the only driver without a previous championship, there’s a case to be made that he’s absolutely as motivated as the other three drivers, who are looking to repeat. Missing out on the Playoffs last year only intensified that drive for Logano.

“That's what the Playoffs are about, right?” Logano said. “It happens in all sports.  You got to be able to race for wins when it's most important. Like I said, we raced without many Playoff points, so we had to.  We don't have anything to fall back on.  We had to go, and we did.  It took, like I said, a long time to get to this point.

“Now I feel like we're back to where we were a couple years ago, we can compete, lead laps, which turns into race wins quite often.  I'm proud of what we've been able to do.  Where we were last year was hard.  It's really hard.  It stinks, it's tough.  But the fact that we've been able to stay together, keep working through it, finding something here, finding something there, go back on something, changing it, maybe going down a different road from things we've done in the past, being able to see us get better, awesome.  It's great.  It's hard.  Doesn't happen like a light switch.

“You go down really quick.  It's really hard to climb your way back up, and it's harder.”

Logano is hopeful that in winning the opening round of the three-race championship set-up his team – led by crew chief Todd Gordon – has already been able to shift their thinking and hone their preparation for Sunday’s race. That would be an advantage only he had as the remaining three positions weren’t settled until the Phoenix checkered flag last Sunday.

As a young racer thrust into the big time years ago, Logano exudes the calmness and confidence he’ll need to best NASCAR’s best Sunday afternoon.

It's the big three and me,’’ he said Thursday. “I think, honestly, you have to have that confidence. I'm sure everyone here has the same amount of confidence and feeling that they are the favorites for whatever reason it may be.  I'm sure it's all probably different.

“For us, I feel like, you know, we've been able to overcome a lot this season and build a lot of momentum, have an amazing playoff up to this point, scoring a lot of points, leading a lot of laps, especially the last few weeks, not only on short tracks, but Kansas we had a great running with the pole.  Miami is a little bit different, but it is another fast racetrack similar to that.

“So I feel like our team's in a great spot. Our pit stops have been amazing lately. The confidence is in not only myself as a driver, but in our whole race team all the way through all of Team Penske. So we're ready to get to Sunday and see what happens.”

Garrett Smithley will wrap up his third season driving for JD Motorsports with Gary Keller in the KSDT No. 0 Chevrolet Saturday in the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
 
The race is the season-ender for the Xfinity Series.
 
“We want to close out the year strong,” Smithley said. “We’ve had a mix of really good runs and some that weren’t so good this year. Ending on a big note is important for us and for the folks at KSDT who came on board with us for the weekend.”
 
Smithley has raced three times in Xfinity events at the 1.5-mile track. He enters Saturday’s race in 19th in series points.
 
Practice is scheduled at Homestead at 2:35 and 5:05 p.m. Friday. Qualifying is set for 12:35 p.m. Saturday, with the race to follow at 3:30.
 
The race is part of NASCAR’s Championship Weekend and will determine the Xfinity champion.

JDM PR