By Jerry Jordan, Editor
Heading into this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Joey Logano hopes to defend his 2021 victory, but his comments weren’t quite as optimistic when asked about the Easter Sunday races. .
“Ha, you’re playing a trick on me. That, um, I’m not a huge fan of racing on Easter, I’ll just say, you know, I feel like it’s a very special day, a day that’s as big as Christmas if not bigger, so I’m not crazy about it,” Logano said. “I also understand where it makes, you know, a lot of sense for a sport to do it, you know, so you can see, but it’s different than other sports. Uhm, do you know when? When other sports compete on holidays, there are a couple of teams here and a couple of teams there. There are 40 teams. I’m doing it and so on. I have to be honest, I’m not crazy about it.”
It was obvious that Logano was walking a tight line because he didn’t want to seem like he was criticizing the sanctioning body for scheduling the race and he agreed, saying he’s “willing to give it a try.”
Still, as he pointed out, this experiment is different than other sports because it takes a lot of people to get the NASCAR circus going on a race weekend. From crew members and track workers to officials and fans, local law enforcement and even the media, it’s not the same when you have to work out logistics for hundreds of people on one of your family vacations. most important of the year.
“Maybe, it’s going to be fantastic, it’s going to be fine. I’ll have my family with me, so that’s good, it’s going to be a very different Easter than what we’re used to,” Logano continued. “But I will also say that our sport does a good job as well and MRO (Motor Racing Outreach) does a good job of having something for the kids. Have a church service, you know, for the industry. So I think that part is good, but it’s good for us as drivers, but it’s not that easy for the guys on the race team to have their families three and a half hours away and have to get hotel rooms and all that. , TRUE?
“We have the luxury of having our bus there, right? And the things that come with being a driver, right? And it’s great. We take advantage of that, but it’s not the same for everyone in our sport and as members of the media, you guys understand that too, so that’s where I’m at.”
Technically, it’s not the first time NASCAR has run on Easter Sunday — it’s happened 11 times throughout history — but those races weren’t originally scheduled for Easter. Those races, most recently in 1989, occurred due to the rescheduling of weather-related events. The twelfth time comes after NASCAR announced its 2022 schedule with the date of the Bristol Dirt Race.
When the move was announced in September 2021, Ben Kennedy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing development and strategy, said it was done to put the race under the lights and on prime-time television with FOX. He compared the call to other major sports, as Logano pointed out. It’s another of what many have seen as positive moves under Kennedy, to attract more fans and shake up what had become a somewhat predictive schedule over the years. Earlier this year, the decision to bring NASCAR to the Los Angeles Coliseum was an overwhelming success with fans praising several of the decisions about the new tracks the series is heading to.
“When you think of all the other sports leagues with the NFL on Thanksgiving, the NBA on Christmas, this is our opportunity to run on Easter Sunday and build a big boost for our fans who are watching at home the season on FOX and the season from NBC from the beginning. to finish,” Kennedy said when the schedule was originally announced. “We put a lot of thought into that (family time). I think to that end, having it later in the day and in prime time on Sunday, we want to make sure that the fans, the families, the team members, the drivers have a chance to celebrate earlier in the day. Then for the fans who can tune in at night or hit the track that night, the ability to go out and continue together and watch NASCAR races that we felt was important. A big part of the calculation of that decision was making sure that event was later in the evening that day.”
For its part, FOX is preparing a special day of programming and will even bring Darrell Waltrip to provide updates and perspectives from the television booth. Waltrip announced his departure from FOX during a press conference in Bristol in 2019 after 19 years with the network. His return, along with FOX’s plans to broadcast Easter Sunday services from the track, are just part of the plans FOX has this weekend.
“After a couple of seasons away from the FOX booth, I’m really looking forward to getting back up there with Mike (Joy) and now Clint (Bowyer),” said Waltrip, a three-time champion and the winningest driver at Bristol. with 12 wins. “But I really feel sorry for Mike, he was always very busy with me, but now he has double problems with Bowyer and with me. He will be great. I still watch all the races and I’m excited to see the new car in Bristol Dirt.
According to a FOX press release, prior to the start of pre-race programming, FS1 will televise Bristol Motor Speedway’s Easter celebration service from outside the stadium in the intermediate fan area. Pastor Max Lucado will deliver an Easter Sunday message, with musical performances by Grammy Award-winner Chris Tomlin and Gary LeVox, former lead singer of Rascal Flatts. The service’s hour-long coverage of FS1 also includes several moving interviews and features with Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Michael McDowell, Ty Dillon and Regan Smith as they and their families share their Easter traditions. A special feature will air with Speedway Motorsports Inc. President and COO Marcus Smith and Coach Joe Gibbs and Waltrip also part of the broadcast. Programming is scheduled to begin at 5:30 pm CST and will move to the main FOX network at 7 pm CST.