NASHVILLE, Tenn – For the first time in NASCAR history, they’re doing their end of the season awards banquet in Tennessee. In the past, the prestigious ceremony had either taken place in New York City or in recent years in Las Vegas.
Now, the NASCAR world turned their focus to Music City this week for a build up that ends with the annual awards banquet on Thursday night.
Joey Logano battles Kyle Busch during practice at Talladega back in October
But, for one driver, the banquet is a night that he honestly dreads. See, Joey Logano is a competitor. No one would question he desire to win or be a champion. Coming into 2019, he was the defending series champion in NASCAR’s premiere series. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t become the 11th driver to win back-to-back championships, as Logano would come home fifth in the final Cup Series standings.
That irks him to say the least coming into Thursday night. Logano says that the banquet is the ultimate motivating factor going into a new season for 2020. Now that he’s won a championship, he doesn’t want to sit through a banquet honoring someone else.
“These banquets are really the same after you’ve won it and know what it’s like to see your car plastered everywhere and you’re team is out there having fun with each other, but don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to be in Nashville for these awards, but it really stinks for the competitors to come to a banquet that you didn’t win,” Logano said from a Media Day on Wednesday in downtown Nashville. “It’s like another reminder that you got beat. That’s not much fun. I don’t really like that part.
“Usually I say, when you leave the banquet that night, you really wish you could race again the next day because that’s about the most motivating thing you can do is go to a banquet that you didn’t win. All you want to do is change that and you want to do it as quickly as possible. But, you have to wait until Daytona to get going again.”
Logano set course all season to become the first back-to-back Monster Energy Series champion since Jimmie Johnson’s string of five-straight from 2006-2010. But a tough few weeks in the Playoffs for the 2018 champ unfortunately ended his hopes of securing a title and qualifying for the Championship 4 for the fourth time in the last six years.
Logano responded, however, by finishing the season as the highest-ranked driver not in the championship battle at Miami. He finished fifth in the standings, with a pair of victories (Las Vegas-1 and Michigan-1), 12 top-5 and 21 top-10 finishes in all. He earned three pole positions in the Team Penske No. 22 Ford and, in fact, won the Michigan race from pole. Logano challenged Kyle Busch for the regular season title and for the fifth time in his 11-year fulltime Cup career won multiple races.
“It was a strong year, it wasn’t a championship year,’’ Logano said after finishing fifth in the Homestead season finale.
“We want to be better, but we’ll move on.’’