An F-16 flight broadened Joey Logano’s perspective on military commitment

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 04: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 04, 2023 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

A fixture on Memorial Day weekend, the Coca-Cola 600 has always been a way for NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway to honor those who serve in the United States Armed Forces.

From special paint schemes to names of fallen heroes adorning cars to spectacular pre-race displays, NASCAR’s longest race occupies a special place on the racing calendar.

No driver has described the relationship between the Coca-Cola 600 and those who have fought and died for our country more eloquently than Joey Logano, who put the significance of the weekend into perspective during a question-and-answer session with reporters on Friday afternoon.

Logano got a first-hand look at the military experience recently during a trip in an F-16 fighter aircraft.

“When I was in the jet itself, we were flying around and doing all of these incredible maneuvers and I was thinking, ‘Imagine if someone was trying to shoot me right now,’” Logano said. “That’s a whole different game, or whatever the mission may be, and you have to make those really, really hard decisions—hard decisions—not whether we should pit and put two tires on or stay out.

“That’s a very small decision in comparison to what these people are doing. That’s why I love this weekend so much. I really do appreciate it, and my perspective changed years ago because of these things and I wish that everyone would get to experience that.

“But I think we do a good job here at Charlotte with the speedway and Coca-Cola together trying to not only honor our military because they deserve it, but help our country understand a little bit more of what they go through and helps reminds us that every Memorial Day Weekend, but we should be reminded every day. I think that’s hard to do sometimes because we’re in our little world.”