MELISSA BLOCK, host:
It wasn't exactly an exciting finish, it wasn't even a fast finish, but yesterday, Joey Logano became the youngest NASCAR driver ever to win a Sprint Cup race. Those are NASCAR's top races. He is 19 years old.
Logano beat out NASCAR veteran Jeff Gordon to win the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The race ended early due to rain, and Logano, who was running on an almost-empty tank, was in the lead when the race was called.
And Joey Logano joins us now. Congratulations on your win.
Mr. JOEY LOGANO (NASCAR Driver): Thank you. I appreciate it.
BLOCK: It must feel like a very big deal.
Mr. LOGANO: It's definitely a big deal, one of the biggest deals of my life, that's for sure. It was a dream come true to win your first cup race at, kind of your hometown. You know, I was born in Connecticut. So to get your first win there with, you know, your family and friends around, it was really neat.
BLOCK: Well, if I understand this right, you blew out a tire. You were able, as you were getting your tire fixed, to refuel. So you were in a strategically good spot because you had gas in the tank when other people did not. Is that right?
Mr. LOGANO: Exactly. We were able to refuel about, you know, six or seven laps later than everybody else, which was the six or seven laps that made a difference at the end of the race. So, you know, sometimes, a little misfortune plays in your hands.
BLOCK: Now, all this time, at the end of the race, you've got NASCAR god Jeff Gordon hot on your tail, and describe what he was doing. I've seen it referred to as he was messing with your mind, trying to make you lose this race.
Mr. LOGANO: Yeah, well, what happened was when it started raining, they threw a caution out, and…
BLOCK: Okay, now when the caution is raised, that's a yellow flag. That means you have to slow down because of the rain.
Mr. LOGANO: Right. And, you know, we started making slow laps there for maybe about - probably five or six, and I was just trying to save as much fuel as I can by cutting the motor off and coasting as long as I can, and he was just trying to get me to fire my motor back up to catch back up to the pace car. You know, it was cool, though, to get your first win, you know, with Jeff Gordon right behind you. You know, it's definitely a neat deal.
BLOCK: So if I understand this right, Jeff Gordon is trying to get you to turn your engine on so you'll burn up more fuel, you'll run out of gas.
Mr. LOGANO: Exactly, yeah.
BLOCK: And we have some tape of your crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, talking to you as you're racing, telling you to conserve fuel. Let's take a listen.
Mr. GREG ZIPADELLI (Crew Chief, NASCAR): Save fuel for me. You've got to save fuel. We're good for about three to five laps there under green. So we'll go quite a few, okay? Just save fuel. Roll out, shut it off, shut all your fans off.
BLOCK: Joey Logano, what were you feeling when you were hearing those messages?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. LOGANO: I was pretty excited about it. I didn't even know I was in the lead because we were right in the middle of pit stops, and you kind of lose track of what place you're in during the race. So, you know, once the caution came out, they say, well, you're the leader. And I was like, man, keep on raining. Keep on raining, and, you know, it worked out.
BLOCK: What does it feel like? You're 19, youngest winner in the history of Sprint Cup races, 61 years. That's got to feel amazing.
Mr. LOGANO: It's awesome. It was one of my goals, you know, when I started this year. It's an awesome feeling. I would - you know, it's the one race that I probably wasn't expecting to win that we won. So it was cool. It's just a never-die attitude.
BLOCK: What did Jeff Gordon say to you after the race?
Mr. LOGANO: He came up to me actually before they actually called the race for rain. He'd come up to me in the car, he's like: Looks like you got it. Good job. I was like: Don't tell me that yet. Don't jinx this.
(Soundbite of laughter)
BLOCK: You didn't believe it.
Mr. LOGANO: Well, yeah. I was sitting there and waiting as long as I can because I didn't want to leave the car or anything. I wanted to, you know, make sure it was official.
BLOCK: Well, Joey Logano, congratulations. Thanks a lot.
Mr. LOGANO: All right. Thank you, appreciate it.
BLOCK: That's 19-year-old Joey Logano. Yesterday, he became the youngest NASCAR driver ever to win a Sprint Cup Series race.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.