Joey Logano didn’t flinch when a hawk swooped through about an 18-inch gap between the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver and Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell in search of food Wednesday at The Greenbrier during an event to promote the First Data 500 on October 29.
In fact the three-time Martinsville Pole Winner and 18-time winner in NASCAR’s highest series likened the bird of prey to racing at NASCAR’s only remaining original track.
“This bird comes at us, it feels like 100, but it’s probably only 20, and threads that needle right through there. That’s what NASCAR racing is. That’s what it’s all about,” Logano said. “It’s finding that little gap and taking advantage of it and when you’re at Martinsville those gaps don’t present themselves a lot. So, you have to take advantage of it when it’s there. That’s what makes it a lot of fun racing there.”
In addition to a falconry demonstration, where Logano and Campbell got a first-hand lesson on birds of prey, the two got a tour of “The Bunker,” a fallout shelter during the Cold War that would be used to house the US Congress, in the event of a nuclear attack.
The tight-quarters racing of the half-mile speedway often produces beating, banging, rising tempers and a lack of patience among drivers. That led Logano to joke a fallout shelter at Martinsville might not be a bad idea.
“Sometimes after the race I wish they had a bunker so I could get out of there,” he laughed. “For the most part I’ve enjoyed racing there, but I’ve had my fair share of drama there.”
It’s the drama Logano mentioned that Campbell said makes the racing at Martinsville a must-see for the fans.
“Short-track racing; fans love it,” Campbell said. “It’s beating and banging, and that’s what the fans are clamoring to see now. We’re excited about the event. It’s always an exciting race and there’s no reason to believe it shouldn’t be this time.”
The First Data 500 is the first race in the Round of 8 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. If the winning driver is in the Playoffs, he would be the first to clinch a spot in the Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Last fall, Jimmie Johnson won his ninth grandfather clock, on the way to winning his record-tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Tickets for the First Data 500 are on sale and may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.