Members of the military will invade Dover International Speedway on Sunday
Fans from Dover Air Force Base will be among the tens of thousands making their voices heard at the Monster Mile this weekend.
Talladega winner and Team Penske racer Joey Logano got a taste of their enthusiasm when he visited the airbase April 11 to promote this Sunday’s “AAA 400 Drive for Autism."
Airman 1st Class Christian Padilla said he wasn’t a NASCAR fan. But he said that might change since Logano’s reps gave him a pair of free tickets for Sunday’s race.
What’s more, he met Logano.
“It was exciting to get to take a picture with a famous race car driver,” Padilla said. “He does things that not many people do, so it’s really awesome to meet new people like that, who are great at their craft.”
The airman said he’s “super excited” for his first NASCAR race this weekend. He anticipates “it’s definitely going to be neat; and it’s going to be loud.”
Enjoying ‘Sliced Bread’
Staff Sgt. Chris Sharlow hopped on the chance to have lunch with Logano, one of his favorite drivers.
“He’s the most famous person I’ve ever met,” Sharlow said. “I am a huge Logano fan.”
During lunch, Sharlow and a few other troops shot the breeze with the Connecticut native.
“We’re having good conversation like we’ve been friends forever,” Sharlow said. “Obviously we talked a lot about racing. But he was also asking us personal questions about our hobbies, what we like to do in our spare time, what made us want to join the military and all sorts of different stuff.”
Sharlow said he’s “always been a fan of Team Penske,” which made it easy for him to rock with Logano when the driver moved from Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013.
“They used to call him ‘Sliced Bread,’ because he was so good when he first came up,” Sharlow said. “I think that’s what drew me to him.”
For Tech Sgt. Brittany Toth, Joey Logano doesn’t cut it like her driver, current Monster Energy Series champion Martin Truex Jr.
“He was up-and-coming and I was looking for a new driver to root for, so I decided on Martin,” Toth said.
Toth said she still has a lot of respect for Logano. She felt good vibes when she met him.
“It’s really cool to actually be able to meet and see these guys when they come around, and see that they are normal, everyday people,” Toth said. “Joey seems to be a very down-to-earth guy.”
Young but old driver
At 27, Logano is already in his 10th year of racing.
“It’s an interesting spot to be in for sure. I like it,” he said. “I have the experience and I have the youth behind me that other drivers don’t have.”
Logano has started 18 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series races at the Monster Mile, with three top five finishes. But he’s yet to win a Cup race in Dover.
“Dover to me is one of the most fun tracks to go to, because it’s like Bristol [Motor Speedway] on steroids,” he said. “It’s faster. It’s bigger. You got the elevation changes as you go into the corner. It’s a physically demanding race track. Four hundred laps around there: that’s a demanding race.”
Coming into this weekend’s race, Logano ranks second in points behind Kyle Busch. He has a series best four top fives and nine top ten finishes through the first 10 races of the season.