By Rick Minter/ Andrews McMeel Syndication
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship wasn’t the only honor that Joey Logano collected last weekend. He also won the annual Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award.
The award program, now in its fourth year, honors NASCAR industry members for their philanthropy. Logano’s foundation was given $60,000, while the other nominees, driver Ryan Newman and Sonoma Raceway track president Steve Page, each received $30,000 for their respective charities.
In the six years since it was founded, the Joey Logano Foundation has been responsible for distributing $2.7 million to various charities, according to a Comcast news release.
Among its projects, Logano’s foundation formed the JL Kids Crew to help children with serious illnesses attend events at racetracks.
His charity’s Grant Funding Program also sends funds to organizations that assist the families of the sick, foster children and children of veterans.
During the recently completed NASCAR playoffs, Logano’s foundation helped nonprofit organizations in 10 different NASCAR markets through its Chasing Second Chances program.
Logano and his wife, Brittany, actually participated in an event in Florida the night before he won the Cup championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His group took needy families shopping at a local grocery store to buy food for their Thanksgiving meals.
Newman was honored for his work with his Rescue Ranch organization, which he and his wife, Krissie, formed to promote respect for all animals, the earth and the environment.
Logano discussed his work with his foundation in a press conference held prior to him being announced as the winner.
“We talk about race wins, we can talk about how I’m a hard racer. That’s fine,” Logano said. “But when you take your helmet off, you become a different person.
“I think our whole industry does a great job of understanding that we’re all very fortunate and very blessed that God has given us the opportunity to do what we love.”
He said that his foundation work often reminds him of just how lucky he is.
“In our little la-la land out here in NASCAR world, it’s great, but we don’t see all the challenges a lot of times that people fight every single day,” he said. “We get mad and storm off after we blow a tire or we hit the wall, have a bad pit stop, pout away.
“Is it really that bad? I don’t think so. It’s OK. Life is still pretty good.”
He said he started a second chance program because of the second chance he got in his racing career when Roger Penske hired him to drive the No. 22 Ford after he’d gotten pushed out at Joe Gibbs Racing.
“Chasing Second Chances is a big piece of the foundation mainly because I’ve gotten a second chance in my career for racing with Team Penske after a not-so-good start of my career,” Logano said. “I know how different I handled a lot of situations being there the second time. Man, only if I had a second chance, I’d do things a lot different, right?
“God gave me the opportunity to do things different. I feel like I need to pay that forward, as well. Brittany does a great job helping me with that. I don’t have as much time to focus in on it as I’d like to. She does a great job of setting a lot of things up, working with everything.”
And he said he’s not in charity work to get recognition for himself.
“It’s about what you’re supposed to do,” he said.
During the winner’s interview after Logano won the championship, team owner Roger Penske mentioned Logano’s charity work and the honor he received for it from Comcast.
“That’s a side of him,” Penske said. “They had a lot of people that had delivered a lot back into the community, and I think that his commitment and the things that he has done gave him that championship.
“At the end of the day, as you get older, you say, that’s a real championship. We can race on the racetrack, we can win races, but to get that as a philanthropic person in NASCAR I think is pretty special.
“I think we couple that together, we’ve got an A-plus guy.”
PHOTO: On the eve of the Cup championship, Joey Logano and his wife, Brittany, left, took 100 families shopping for Thanksgiving meals.
Photo Credits:Joey Logano Foundation