Joey Logano’s favorite Darlington lap may have been with him in the passenger seat

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - MAY 13: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on May 13, 2023 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

As a 19-year-old rookie in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2009, Joey Logano got an offer he couldn’t refuse—a trip around Darlington Raceway with one to the track’s vaunted winners, Cale Yarborough.

It’s rare that any young driver can master the Track Too Tough to Tame without some veteran guidance, and on Throwback Weekend at the 1.366-mile speedway, that’s an experience indelibly etched in Logano’s memory.

“I’ll remember it forever,” Logano said on Saturday at Darlington. “I know that. I don’t sit in the passenger seat very often, but when it’s Cale Yarborough around Darlington, I’ll strap in and go for a ride, because that’s like the coolest thing you can do.

“I remember some of the things he told me about how to get around this place, and it hasn’t changed much since he raced, because it all lined up really, really well about how you get around the place and what to do. Part of it was cool, just sitting in the passenger seat and watching him wheel it around here. That was really neat, obviously, but, like I said, his advice really transferred over to the modern day—even to today.”

Clearly, the advice paid off. In 18 starts at Darlington, Logano has 10 top 10s, six top fives, one victory and two poles. He’s the defending winner of the Goodyear 400, having triumphed from the top starting spot last year.