NEWINGTON, N.H. - Joey Logano knows the value of a good pit stop. On Wednesday, the No. 6 seed in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship spent time with men and women that not only protect this country, but make their pit stops at 20,000 feet. Logano's visit to Pease Air National Guard Base in Newington, N.H. was part of NASCAR's "Chase Across America," which puts all 12 playoff drivers at each hosting Chase track.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway will host the SYLVANIA 300, the second race in the Chase, on Sunday, Sept. 22.
"This is something really special and I'm proud to be here today," said Logano, a native of Middletown, Conn., who made history when he became the youngest winner (18 years, 21 days) in Sprint Cup Series history at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July of 2009. "It's always great to come back to New England and, obviously, New Hampshire. I miss it up here. And to visit with these amazing folks here today, that serve our country; it's truly an honor to be a part of something like this."
Logano arrived to the base and was welcomed by over 100 members of the 157th Air Refueling Wing, which has been operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The visit by Logano was a welcome one for the base, which anticipates sending a number of its airmen overseas in January.
"This comes a very good time and is good for the morale of everyone here," said Col. Paul Hutchinson, commander of the 157th ARW. "This is an important day in the history of this country and to have a NASCAR driver like Joey Logano here to commemorate the day is one that won't soon be forgotten.
In honor of his visit, Logano was given a challenge coin by Hutchinson. The solid bronze coin struck is given to pilots as a memento for service. To make sure pilots were carrying them, they would challenge each other to show the coin. If someone failed to produce a coin they had to buy the challenger a drink. If the challenged did produce the coin, the challenger would buy the drink. This tradition spread to other military branches. In exchange, Logano gave the 157th a team gas can - in the spirit of the Air Refueling Wing.
"I thought that was a pretty cool thing," said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of the speedway, who was also given a coin. "Joey really embraces what this day is all about and respects where we are and what it means to this country. You can't help but root for someone like that."
The driver of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford for Penske racing got hands on with some of the airmen, showing how to simulate a pit stop with the New Hampshire Motor Speedway showcar. K&N Pro Series East and American-Canadian Tour driver Eddie MacDonald (Rowley, Mass.) was on hand to provide assistance, while Logano guided airmen through the steps to change a tire and jack-up the car.
Logano then took a guided tour of the KC-135A Stratotanker, which offloads fuel to fighter jets at a rate of 6,500 pounds per minute. That's enough fuel in one minute to operate an average family car for a year. Logano finished his tour by getting in the back belly of the plane, where he simulated what it was like to refuel a jet.
"You can't help but think this is cool," said Logano. "I have the utmost respect for what our guys on our team do when it comes to pit stops. But what these guys do in the skies, that's something really special."
Logano capped off his day with a trip to Buffalo Wild Wings in the Fox Run Mall. There, he answered questions from legendary NASCAR pit reporter Dick Berggren, as well as over 75 fans and supporters.
To see if Logano can chase down his first Sprint Cup title, details and ticket information on how to purchase tickets to the SYLVANIA 300 NASCAR weekend in September are available at our Ticket Office, speedway website at www.nhms.com, or Ticket Hotline at (603) 783-4931.