Joey Logano On The Big Race, His Five-Year-Old’s Fender Bender, And Chasing A Due Date
The fastest dad in America talks about juggling it all.
With one race left in the season and a second NASCAR Championship in his sights, driver Joey Logano is having a banner year, even by his standards. The 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Champion had a fast start in the season back in February by winning the inaugural Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before jetting home to North Carolina in time to be at his wife Brittany’s side for the birth of their daughter Emilia two days later.
Logano might be fast, but with a grueling NASCAR schedule, he still misses a lot at home. In March, races took him from Las Vegas, Phoenix, Miami, and Autin on successive weekends. Every Friday he flies from his home in North Carolina to that week’s race site, returns late Sunday night for four days with his family, and then it’s onto the next track.
Between his weekends speeding around tracks across the country, Logano makes a concerted effort to slow down while at home so he can enjoy time with Emilia, Brittany, and his two boys Jameson (2) and Hudson (4). He can’t totally leave work at the track, but he tries his best to dedicate large chunks of time to his family.
“During the week I like to work in the mornings so I get done by around two o'clock which gives me a solid six or seven hours with my family,” Logano says. “I want to enjoy watching my kids grow up so when I’m at home, I try to set my phone down and just be a dad. But when I go to work, I gotta go to work, right? It's tough to balance.”
Fatherly caught up with Logano as he prepared for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Championship race which will be held at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, November 5, 2022.
What were the conversations with your wife like when you were trying to decide whether or not to travel across the country for a race so close to her due date?
It was a really hard conversation to have because you feel like you're either letting your race team down or you’re letting your family down. The easy thing to say is, “hey, it's the birth of my kid so of course I’m gonna miss work that day.” Well, okay, I miss work but it also affects the whole race team and their families in so many ways. A lot of people get paid off performance bonuses for how I perform. And if I'm not there doing my job, now I'm affecting everybody else's family.
What contingency plans did you have in place?
We just fully committed. And this was my wife's idea. This is the most important part. It was not my idea. She said, “Just go, I'll be fine.” Because the worst thing that could happen is I missed both, right? If I tried to make it back home because she went into labor in North Carolina while I was in California, I’d probably miss both things. So I committed to go run the race. It went perfectly. We won the race. And then we came home the next day. Emilia popped out and everything worked out perfectly.
What word would you use to describe the last eight months?
It's definitely an interesting year. I can't say I've taken a moment to take a step back and view it in any other way yet. I'm so in the moment still right now. We're still in our championship races this weekend, so I’m focused on that. My wife's an absolute Rockstar at home keeping all this together. I mean, we still have the normal struggles of having three kids under the age of five.
Someone’s always up in the middle of the night. Our middle child, Jameson, he's up at five o'clock every morning, ready to rip. There's a lot on the plate right now. But we handle it pretty well even though it’s hard at times.
As your kids get older is loading up the family to go from race to race an option?
I bring them to races that we can drive to from home. We go to Talladega, we drive to Darlington and we go to other tracks that are within about six hours. Outside of that we're starting to push it a little bit and traveling on an airplane with all the car seats and all that stuff is too much. It's just easier to pack the car and drive the family out. Since that's what I do for a living, I'm okay with it. Although as our family is getting bigger, we've realized there's almost not enough space in our vehicles anymore.
Do you see yourself driving a minivan anytime soon?
I always say that now that we have three kids, we’re good. Because after that I can't have a pickup truck anymore. But I can still fit three car seats across the back row.
What is the time of day when you and your wife are most likely to find time to hang out or even talk?
What we try to do is start bedtime at eight o'clock and get everyone to sleep by 9:30. So there's an hour and a half there, where we can hang out and connect. And then we try to do a date night every week. It only actually happens about once every third week these days, but the attempt is there. There's usually something that comes up last second. Or one of the kids gets sick. You know how it is.
Do you have a system for who gets up in the middle of the night or who wakes up at 5 am when the kids are ready to start the day?
Listen. If I'm being honest, I get to sleep at the race track because I’m on my own there a lot of times. At home, I’m usually pretty tired from the race on Monday morning. So Brittany gets up with the kids on Monday, and then I do Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Since I'm gone again on the weekend, I try to give her a break for those three days.
Your oldest is almost five. Has he driven with you or on his own yet? It seems like kids whose dads are professional basketball players or baseball players have a ball in their hands almost immediately in a way that isn’t quite possible for kids whose parents drive race cars.
Oh man, I’m going to get in trouble here. Hudson is exactly me. Like, I know what he's thinking before he does it. I know what he's like. And so he full-on loves cars. Did I push it on him? I don't know if I pushed him on or not. But he has a lot of exposure and sees his dad driving cars all the time.
And they’re really cool cars, at that.
Exactly. At night we read AutaBuy, which is an actual car magazine. He likes to look at all the antique cars and he knows them all. So, like, I got my little buddy with me.
But to answer your question, he's got a little yard car that runs in the backyard. He’s going way too fast in it now. And he’s got a little outlaw car that we can take to a track near our house so he can get some laps. He's taken a lot of interest in driving. He’s not racing yet. But he enjoys driving.
How are his driving skills?
He's really good. He gets a little nervous if we go to the race track and there are other kids around. But I see a lot of ability in him and it’s fun to watch.
Has he had his first fender bender yet?
So he rolls the thing over the other day. This is a classic seeing yourself in your kid moment. This happened to me when I was a kid all the time. He wrecks the thin, breaks the axle, a wheel goes flying off. It’s a pretty good-sized crash. So I have him fix it with me. We get some parts ordered and put it back together.
The next time he’s out in the backyard driving, I check up a little bit to make sure he’s not going too crazy, right? The next thing I know, I see the wheels up in the air again. I’m like, dang it! Here we go again. But this time he lands on his tires. And he hits the gas and I'm like, OK. He’s got this.
When he gets done, I ask him how it went. He says, “it was good. It's good.” I’m like “Yeah, did you go for a ride? Did you flip?” “Nope.”
I didn’t say anything, but I’m thinking, OK, I saw you [chuckles]. A lot of memories came flashing back — moments like that when I was trying to hide my crashes in the woods from my parents.
Do you have a favorite moment at the track with your family?
There are some weekends now when I take Hudson with me, and it’s just him and me. He'll ride his bike around after a race, and we go out on pit road and collect all the old lugnuts from the cars. It’s a really fun moment for me to just kind of see him grow up at the track. And, you know, obviously, there's no better moment than winning with your whole family there. Having a moment in victory lane together and getting that picture definitely makes the wins even more special.
Catch Joey Logano in the NASCAR Cup Series Championship on NBC starting at 3pm Eastern on November 6, 2022.