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Logano says aero package, speed will make Food City 500 even tougher

Jeff Birchfield • Apr 4, 2019 at 3:30 AM

BRISTOL — Joey Logano has conquered the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway on two occasions, but he’s unsure about Sunday’s Food City 500.

With NASCAR’s new aero package for the race cars making its BMS debut, the defending Monster Energy Cup Series champion believes the race will be a test of both man and machine, with the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” faster than ever before.

“I think the race will be harder physically because we’re going so fast and the way the line is,” Logano said. “Where you run way at the bottom or up top by the wall, there’s not much margin for error. We’re going to be going so fast that the rubber is going to pack into the race track. It will be a tough one.”

His past experience in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford gives him an idea of what to expect on the high-banked short track. Logano won back-to-back August Night Races in 2014-15. Still, he knows a good notebook doesn’t have the same value it had before.

“The track prep, it’s very fast at the bottom for awhile, and then when it wears off, the track gets rubbered up at the top and the bottom, and there’s not good grip anywhere you go,” he said. “Trying to set up for that, it’s nearly impossible because the track conditions aren’t like that in practice. We haven’t raced anything with as much downforce here, so going back to the notebook isn’t the best either.”

The 28-year-old Connecticut native is fourth in the NASCAR points with a win at Las Vegas. Matching his car number, it was his 22nd career Cup Series victory.

His checkered past at Bristol also includes the most dominating performance in the history of the Xfinity Series, when he led all 300 laps of the spring race. For the Cup Series, his stats include the two wins, one pole, five top-five and nine top-10 starts. He has been consistent and somewhat careful at the tough short track, recording only one DNF (did not finish).

It’s a special place for him with what it means to both drivers and fans, although he would have never dreamed of the success he’s enjoyed when he first drove on the track. Then as now, Bristol proved to be a challenge.

“It’s high-banked with the stands all the way around, and the fan engagement is more here than anywhere we go,” he said. “The history there is something and the racing is so tough. You’re constantly around cars and never get a break down the straightaway. I remember my first few laps. I did a 10-lap run in practice and thought there is no way I can make 500 laps.”

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