CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After a stop to watch the Detroit Lions practice, Joey Logano felt confident he picked the right career.
As a race car driver, Logano accepts the dangers that come with his sport. He would take that over getting drilled repeatedly by a linebacker.
Logano, at 6-foot-1, 140 pounds, was admittedly intimidated as he watched the Lions practice because “I felt really, really small compared to them. There are some really big dudes out there.”
“I feel like my sport is a lot safer,” Logano said. “We may look crazy going 200 mph, but I would much rather hit the wall at 200 than have a 300-pound linebacker coming at me.”
The NFL has agreed to a $765 million settlement of a head injuries lawsuit with hundreds of players, though the deal was rejected by a federal judge in January. NASCAR, since the 2001 death of Dale Earnhardt at the Daytona 500, has made tremendous strides in safety advancements. In 2012, Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed two races during the championship portion of the season with a concussion, and NASCAR this year mandated preseason baseline testing for all participants.
The safety standards make Logano feel safe in his race car.
“Our hits may be pretty brutal, but at the same time we have done a lot to our race cars to make them safer,” Logano said during his Tuesday visit, which was part of a promotional tour for Michigan International Speedway.
“NASCAR has a constant program of always being able to move up and test cars and crash cars and try to figure out what we can do to make them safer and make the crush zones crush and if there are parts that need to be stiffer they make them stiff,” he said. “I don’t think there are as many areas in football to improve on. Obviously you have pads and helmets, but you are still going to get hit every time.”
Asked what position he’d play on a football team, Logano revealed he performed horribly during a visit with the New England Patriots in which he tried to learn how to kick a field goal.
“I wouldn’t be good at any position,” he admitted. “I don’t really know where I would fit in. Probably on the bench somewhere.”
FROM HIGH TO LOW: Ryan Hunter-Reay was run ragged across the country during a media blitz following his Indianapolis 500 victory, and the American didn’t get a chance to relax until he got to the race track last weekend in Detroit.
But the euphoria from Indy came to a crashing halt in his first qualifying session when Hunter-Reay hit the wall and damaged the rear suspension. It set the tone for a miserable weekend at Belle Isle, where Hunter-Reay logged finishes of 16th and 19th in the doubleheader event. Even worse, his point lead vanished.
Hunter-Reay left Indy up 400 points over Will Power, but Belle Isle dropped him to third in the standings, down 27.
“It was a long weekend,” he said. “I’ll try to erase this one from my memory and move on to Texas. Nothing we did worked.”
Next is a Saturday night race at Texas Motor Speedway, the second oval on the IndyCar schedule. Hunter-Reay was second at Texas last year, his first podium in seven career starts.
“It is such a big track, but it is so challenging,” Hunter-Reay said. “Right now, with our (aero) package the way it is, the track’s condition the way it is with our Firestone tires, it’s racing like a shorter oval at higher speeds. It’s got every kind of mixture of difficulty. It always ends up being one heck of a show.”
FAREWELL TO THE MULLET: The long journey for Jordan Taylor’s infamous mullet will soon come to an end.
The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship driver has been working on the business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back hairstyle for well over a year, and Taylor’s mullet has sometimes overshadowed his on-track accomplishments.
But Taylor is tired of his hair having its own fame, and so he’ll cut it later the month at the Six Hours of Watkins Glen. There’s a catch, though: Taylor is trimming the mullet in hopes of raising $10,000 for Camp Boggy Creek and Camp Anokijig, which serve chronically ill children.
The raffle winner will receive two paddock passes to Watkins Glen, as well as a ride around the road course in a two-seater Daytona Prototype, tours — and the opportunity to help cut Taylor’s mullet.
“I started growing it in January 2013 and it took a while to get some decent length out of it, now I just want to get rid of it,” said Taylor, who teamed with older brother, Ricky, to win last week’s race at Belle Isle.
“I think a lot of people are saying I get a lot of credit for my hair, more than my driving. So I want to go back to being a driver again and not just a guy with weird hair,” Taylor said.
PACK YOUR PATIENCE: Helio Castroneves is warning visitors to his native Brazil to relax and go with the flow during the upcoming World Cup. He expects visitors will find his country to be harried and appear disorganized.
“There is going to be a lot of delays,” Castroneves said. “The transportation has got to really get a plan. Remember, if you want to have fun, that’s the place to be. But don’t get upset with the traffic and craziness. But at the end of the day, the party is going to be awesome.”