Monday, May 05, 2008

Logano on a roll at The Rock

Stock car racing has a shining new star: Joey Logano, 17, sat on the pole for the Carolina 500 at the newly-returned Rockingham Speedway and stunk up the show by dominating the race all afternoon. Discovered by NASCAR veteran Mark Martin at age 15, crew-chief Billy Venturini said of Logano "He is the best kid I've ever seen." Look for him in the NASCAR Nationwide series shortly as he turns 18, and don't rule out a Joe Gibbs Racing ride in Sprint Cup before long.
The ARCA-sanctioned 312 lap '500', measured in kilometers [argh!], gave the race its iconic name. Nashville recording artist Josh Gracin sang the national anthem while US Army AH60 Blackhawk helicopters provided the fly-past. Rockingham had been hors-de-combat from 2004 when Matt Kenseth was the last winner in the DeWalt Power Tools Ford on the NASCAR circuit.
This time round Tony Stewart flagged off the field as Joey Logano jumped out to an early lead in his first ARCA start. There didn't look to be a particularly large crowd with plenty of empty seats. Track promoter Andy Hillenburg said "Little over half the stands are full. We're gonna make it bigger and better every year." Ex-F1 racer Scott Speed shunted in the early going in the Red Bull Toyota, condemned to an afternoon as an also-ran after his recent win in Kansas. The race was something of a crashfest with many of the front-running cars damaged early on. Veteran driver Kenny Schrader finished second. See PunchBuggy Passim.

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