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Joey Logano featured in new STEM-inspired campaign with LeBron James, other pro athletes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400

FONTANA, CA - MARCH 26: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 AAA Southern California Ford, stands on the grid before the start of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 26, 2017 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

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He lacks a college degree, so Joey Logano likes joking with people he has an “RCD”, or “Race Car Driver.”

Even though it isn’t a formal education, working among the 50 engineers at Team Penske and crew chief Todd Gordon (a Clemson mechanical engineering graduate) has provided a wealth of knowledge.

“Not only while here at Team Penske but growing up in the sport, you get an education,” Logano said. “Like no other, really. I have an amazing opportunity to work with people like that at a very young age to be able to learn a lot of things.

“I sign everything ‘Joey Logano, RCD,’ but I think it’s an education that is very valuable. I know if something was to happen to me that I couldn’t drive a race car anymore, I’m able to take a lot of these tools that I’ve formed and things I’ve learned over the last 15 to 20 years of my life and be able to apply that to a different job. It may not be the paper degree but it is a hard-earned degree.”

Logano is helping sponsor Verizon promote a new #weneedmore campaign that also features athletes LeBron James, Drew Brees, Karl-Anthony Towns and David Villa.

The goal is to downplay the importance of celebrity and fame, encouraging children to pursue STEM-based careers (science, technology, engineering and math). The Verizon Innovative Learning program highlights that there are more than 4 million science and technology jobs available in the United States.

Logano, 26, said he would encourage anyone getting into racing – even for driving – to pursue a college education as well.

“Today you have to have a degree to get any kind of job,” Logano said. “Everyone is going to college these days. The hardest thing for kids is how do you figure out what you want to be? You’re making your life decisions going into college, and you’re 18 years old and a lot of times, you don’t know. How are you supposed to know without going to work for a little bit and figuring it out and work hard to follow my dream? It’s a challenge for kids these days to go to school and commit to something very, very young.

“You never know what’s going to happen, and it’s smart to have a backup plan. Coming from someone who didn’t have a backup plan. Take it from my experience, I really put all my eggs in one basket. I don’t have a backup plan. There’s good and bad from that. I was able to focus 100% on something and not have a distraction. Also it forced me to make sure it worked. So I guess that’s the positive, but I’ll be the first to say that probably wasn’t the smartest way.”

A 60-second spot featuring James made its debut April 1. Logano is in a digital spot with Brees, Towns, Villa and Adriana Lima.

With Sprint’s title sponsorship no longer precluding doing promotional work with wireless competitor Verizon (which sponsors Penske in IndyCar), Logano is hopeful for more such visibility. “To put your name with those athletes, that’s really cool,” he said. “To say I was in a commercial (campaign) with LeBron James, that on top of something I believe in, makes it a natural fit.”

While for a positive cause benefiting education, Logano also is mindful of the exposure he garnered from being in a series of Home Depot commercials as a Cup rookie several years ago.

“These are the things I’ve learned from the Home Depot days when they played that commercial over and over again,” he said. “It’s so big for your brand as a driver to have a national spot played in places other than a NASCAR race. The value that comes out of that is huge.

“When you can also align with what the mission is of the spot and align with that and feel it’s genuine, that makes this a win. It’s a win for my brand. It’s a win because I believe in it and Team Penske. It’s really good and well done. These guys are Hall of Famers of their sport. It’s cool to be a part of a spot like that.”