LAS VEGAS — NASCAR will laud 28-year-old Joey Logano as its Cup series champion Thursday night, and Logano has a pretty simple idea of what type of champion he wants to be over the coming months.
“I want to be the champion that’s going to help grow our sport,” Logano said Wednesday. “That is, to me, the most important piece. … Your word holds a little bit more weight now, and as long as I’m responsible with that, a lot of good things can happen.”
The Team Penske driver is a veteran of 10 seasons in the sport, so he knows how to handle the rigors of racing amid being pulled in a variety of directions to do media and other appearances.
He has served on the drivers council the past couple of years, too.
“I tried to do everything I could do beforehand being in all those [drivers] council meetings and rules committees and being there and putting in my two cents, whatever that’s worth,” Logano said. “As a champion for our sport, that becomes your responsibility more. For me, I take that personal.”
While some drivers have had issues with Logano off the track, he is known as one of the more easy-going drivers when it comes to working with him at appearances and his willingness to promote the sport.
“I think [he’ll be] a really good one,” said 2012 champion Brad Keselowski, Logano’s teammate. “He has really matured. Not that he wasn’t mature before, but he just continues to grow as a person, both personally and professionally.”
Keselowski said Logano doesn’t need to talk to him about what he has in store as the champ.
“He doesn’t need my advice,” Keselowski said. “It won’t be [hard] for him. He’s just a real natural with handling that kind of stuff.”
That’s the way Logano feels — he will continue his foundation work and will continue to try to be accommodating with requests for his time. But Logano has never been a driver who can easily say no to something that makes at least a little bit of sense.
“It’s something that I know I’m going to be here for a long time,” Logano said. “So for the growth of the sport, something that would be healthy for everybody involved, it’s going to be fun to see how that goes along [as far as being a spokesman].
“It’s going to be busy, but I definitely am not going to be the champion that is going to say no to things. It’s going to be something to take advantage of everything that comes my way.”
While Logano won the 2015 Daytona 500, winning the championship gives him a bigger, louder voice.
“[I need to do] the things I was doing before in trying to be involved in everything I could,” Logano said. “[That’s] being connected with NASCAR as much as possible, listening to fans and seeing what their insight is and what they think is better and your own experience of being inside the race car for 10 years and racing and what the teams need and trying to work together.
“One thing I learned over the last few years is what I want as a driver sometimes isn’t the same as what the fans want or what the team wants or what the broadcast partners want or the media wants or the racetracks.”
Logano is still basking in some of the championship moments 10 days after winning at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It capped a year that started with his wife, Brittany, giving birth to their first child, a boy, Hudson.
“It’s just been an amazing year for us with the championship and the birth of our son,” Logano said. “Both of those happening in one year, that’s unreal. That doesn’t happen very often. We’re so blessed.”