The NASCAR Cup Series will head to World Wide Technology Raceway for the first time on June 5. The top drivers have no idea what to expect with a new track and a new car, but Joey Logano believes that the Cup Series will put on a great show.
The 2018 Cup Series champion met with members of the media on May 28 after helping call the Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Logano explained that there were many questions about Nashville Superspeedway and the lanes entering the 2021 season, but the drivers were able to use the full track and battle in front of a new audience. He expects something very similar during the Cup Series debut outside of St. Louis.
“I think Gateway is gonna be a great race,” Logano said, quote courtesy of Ford Performance. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, but I’ve been watching the Truck races there and it seems like a track where you’ve got Turns 1 and 2 that are high-banked, really sharp. If they’re shifting in a truck, they’re definitely going to be shifting in a Cup car now with the five speeds, and then you’ve got the sweeping, long three and four — flat, but I think you’ve got some tire wear there. You’ve got an older surface. You’ve got some bumps. You’ve got some character in it, so I think it’s gonna be a great race.”
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Logano Has 1 Start at the Illinois Track
The trip to World Wide Technology Raceway will not be the first for Logano. He has previous experience at the Illinois track. Though it took place in a different national NASCAR series.
Logano suited up for the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 Xfinity Series race on July 19, 2008. He took over the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and qualified fourth overall for the 200-lap event. Logano turned in a strong performance during the event by leading 42 laps and finishing second behind Carl Edwards.
The veteran NASCAR driver will not suit up for his return to track. He will control the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang, and he will try to win the inaugural Cup Series race. He will also pursue this goal while potentially helping secure some new members of the fanbase.
“Not everyone can travel three hours, six hours, 10 hours to a race,” Logano said. “That’s a big commitment if you think about it, so bringing races to new markets, to fans that don’t typically get to go, ‘Hey, it’s Sunday afternoon, let’s go to watch a race.’ That’s cool, especially for a first-time fan that maybe isn’t as passionate about it quite yet because they haven’t been to one.”
Bragging Rights Are on the Line
The trip to World Wide Technology Raceway presents an opportunity for all of the top drivers in NASCAR. They will have the opportunity to win the first-ever Cup Series race at the 1.25-mile track and secure some bragging rights.
Logano has achieved this feat during two additions to the Cup Series schedule. He won the inaugural Cup Series race on the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track in 2021 and then he captured the Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum before the start of the 2022 season. Now he will pursue another historic win, but he will battle with some other champions.
“Yeah, anytime it’s an inaugural event, a new market, you feel that energy around the race,” Kurt Busch said ahead of the Coca-Cola 600. “Last year with Road America, it was off the charts Nashville was off the charts — might be missing one. You have that feel this year going into it. There’s three days of track activity. I’ll be on the sim Wednesday, and it’ll bring me back to when I raced there in the trucks.
“I was there in the year 2000 running trucks and shifting down the back straightaway at Gateway so I’m looking forward to it. It’s a big Phoenix and it’s not quite Darlington and so it has its own character already before we get there.”