Joey Logano (No. 20 GameStop/Hitman Absolution Toyota): “It was good enough to get the pole. And I feel like it was good in race trim. Hopefully, my guys will make the right adjustments to try to make it happen later on in this race. Hey, we’re excited about it. They gave me a good car. We have been slipping and sliding in our Cup car and slipping and sliding in our Nationwide car. You just do that here at this track”

Logano is sporting an upscale looking driving suit promoting the game Hitman Absolution and is made to look like a tuxedo. It features a black jacket, white shirt and red tie.

 

LONGTIME FANS – Concord mayor Scott Padgett has suite tickets these days, but he still takes time during the race to go downstairs and watch from the best seats – the ones in the grandstand.

“I just enjoy the experience of being right down where you can really see and feel the action,” Padgett said. “If it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood.”

And it’s clearly in Padgett’s blood. Padgett was one of 25 longtime fans who were honored by Charlotte Motor Speedway President and General Manager Marcus Smith Saturday. For attending races for 50 years or more, these longtime fans received a granite plaque with their name and photo that was unveiled near Gate 5A Saturday morning at the track. Fans will also receive a gold lanyard and photo hard card, a special decal and inclusion on the Charlotte Motor Speedway website, in the souvenir program and on the world’s largest HDTV.

“Without fans like you, we wouldn’t be here,” Smith said. “You all make this happen.”

Honoree Roy Carroll and his wife Nina recall seeing their first race from a blanket on a dirt bank at the speedway, which was still under construction. And although the Carrolls live just miles from another NASCAR speedway in Richmond, Va., Charlotte Motor Speedway has become their “home track” over the years. They come every year, missing just one race in the last 50 years.

“We like to come here and relax and vacation,” Roy Carroll said. “We stay across from the track in a motorhome – two weeks in May, one week in October. And we just stay here and shop around and visit all the car shops… We come to get away. It’s like a second home to us.”

Roy Carroll said that after so many years and so many races, he couldn’t pick one favorite memory. What stood out for him, instead, was the camaraderie of fans, the friends he has made through the years, and the history he’s witnessed firsthand.

“I’ve watched this place grow,” Carroll said.

So has Padgett, who recalled his own first experience at CMS in 1960. Just 14 at the time Padgett remembers that admission was $4 per carload, so a friend’s dad pile his teenage son and two buddies in the car and came to the track.

“It was a lot rawer experience back then,” said Padgett, recalling the dirt infield and the blazing heat of the day. “Back then, never did I think I would one day be mayor. But we’ve both changed a lot in 50 years.”

 

SMI DONATING LEFTOVERS – Charlotte Motor Speedway President and General Manager Marcus Smith announced Saturday in track media center that Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) will donate all extra food from its races for the rest of 2012, including this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600, to Drive to End Hunger. Drive to End Hunger is the AARP Foundation’s program focusing on the problem of older adult hunger in America.

“I’ve been talking a lot to fans who have been coming here for years, and it’s so neat to see how everybody lends a hand,” Smith said. “This is just an extension of what race fans are all about – helping each other.”

Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, spent Friday at his Hendrick Motorsports shop helping pack meals for his sponsor. He said SMI’s commitment will help feed thousands of senior citizens in the North Carolina area alone.

“Nothing should go to waste,” Gordon said. “You have no idea how much this means to the program and to me.”

A four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, Gordon has been experiencing a well-known slump this season. With just one top-5 finish, Gordon is currently 24th in points.

“Things have not being going well for us on track,” Gordon said. “But I’m able to hold my head up high knowing the things we’re doing off the race track. It’s even better when you do well on the race track because it directly impacts what this program is all about. I’ve had a lot of sponsors through the years, but none I’ve felt so morally responsible for. It motivates me to be able to represent something that really impacts lives.”