Column By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – AVONDALE, AZ – Chase Elliott may have the illusory “momentum” — thanks to his 11th-hour victory at Martinsville Speedway — but Joey Logano considers himself the favorite to win a second NASCAR Cup Series title in Sunday’s Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Logano’s confidence is founded on facts. The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford was the winner at Phoenix in March, before the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the NASCAR season. Logano won the opening race in the Playoff’s Round of 8 at Kansas Speedway and has had three weeks to prepare for the title race—assured of his chance to race for the championship.
He and Paul Wolfe are the only driver/crew chief combination in the final four where both have won NASCAR Cup championships. Wolfe won his title in 2012 as crew chief for Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski.
Logano won the Championship 4 race in 2018, beating Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
“I think the experience is there, the speed is there,” Logano said on Thursday during a Zoom question-and-answer session with reporters. “I think the mentality of the way we race is there. I truly believe that we’re the favorites to win this thing.
“Like I said, that’s important to me to feel that way. I feel like I have real things to back that up, which is good.”
He and Wolfe are of the same mind.
“Believing in yourself, right? Our tag line the whole time since this Playoff started,” Logano said. “I came up with a list of six or seven things I thought was the most important things for a team to be able to rally behind. I brought that list to Paul. I said, ‘What is the most important thing on this list to you that makes a great team? These are the things we had to do to try to become a stronger team.’
“He saw the word ‘believe’. He said that’s the biggest thing. We’ve got to believe in each other. We’ve got to believe in ourselves. We’ve got to believe we can win. We’ve got to believe we’re the best. Be humble to work and find gains but believe in us. That was the word that we all rallied behind.”
Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin take different approaches to Championship 4
After winning last Sunday’s Round of 8 finale at Martinsville Speedway, Chase Elliott had neither the time nor the inclination to celebrate.
“To be real honest, I came home and went to bed—just to be real clear on that,” said the driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. “I would have loved to come home, had a few beers, whatever, hung out. Just kind of the way it worked out. We had meetings Monday morning, obviously a big week of prep going into this last event.
“Really just kind of after the race tried to enjoy the moment, embrace it, recognize that situations and moments like that don’t happen every day. Really enjoy that. At the same time, just get ready and think about Monday and what we’re going to talk about in our meetings looking ahead to Phoenix.”
If Elliott comes to his first Championship 4 appearance with single-minded focus, Hamlin appreciates the value of diversion as he faces the pressure of his third title race under the current elimination format. Last year, Hamlin played tennis on the eve of the season finale.
This year, Hamlin, a single-digit handicapper, will spend part of his Phoenix visit on the golf course.
“I’m different when it comes to that,” Hamlin said. “I look for distractions versus people trying to avoid them. I tried to avoid them in 2010 (when he lost a heartbreaker to Jimmie Johnson), and it was the worst mistake I ever made was just not enjoying the weekend. It was my birthday weekend. Why wouldn’t I celebrate that anyway?
“It’s my personality. I make sure that I spend the dedicated amount of time I need to do to prepare, and beyond that, I do my normal, everyday routine, which is just live life. I was at a friend’s daughter’s birthday party a couple days ago, and I’ll go golfing tomorrow for the next couple days, and I’m just—I’m happy with the result, because I know that I’m going to be prepared when I get in the car on Sunday to do the best job possible.”
Hamlin comes to Phoenix with seven wins this season. Elliott brings four victories to his Championship 4 debut.
Daytona Beach NASCAR fan wins 10th Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award
This year’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award winner lives within shouting distance of the Birthplace of Speed.
Longtime NASCAR fan Charlene Greer of Daytona Beach was honored with the award for her work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Volusia/Flagler Counties, the NASCAR Foundation announced Wednesday. The award comes with a $100,000 donation to the winner’s charity.
Greer received the award during a celebration livestreamed on NASCAR.com from the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America at Daytona International Speedway. She was chosen from a group of four finalists, who were honored in their respective markets.
She was chosen for the award from a group of four finalists that included Daryl Farler, representing Amputee Blade Runners celebrating at the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation with Nashville Superspeedway; Larry Jordan, representing Angel Flight Soars, Inc. at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta; and, Rich Langley with the Roc Solid Foundation celebrating with the team at Richard Childress Racing Museum. Each of the three finalists receives a $25,000 donation to their charity and an additional $5,000 gift in honor of the 10th year of the award.
“This year’s finalists are all standouts,” said Mike Helton, chairman of the NASCAR Foundation. “Their NASCAR spirit is behind the incredible work they do to improve the lives of children in our communities each and every day.
“What a year this has been and our fans rallied around this award like never before. We are very proud of all the finalists and particularly proud to present the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award to Charlene Greer, a very deserving recipient, to honor the work she’s doing in NASCAR’s hometown of Daytona Beach.”
The award honors the philanthropic ideals and vision of The NASCAR Foundation’s late founder and chairperson, Betty Jane France, and is annually presented to a NASCAR fan who is an accomplished volunteer championing children’s causes. In its 10-year history, the award has impacted 354,647 children to date, while recognizing 40 finalists with a total of $1,770,000 in contributions to the causes they represent.