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Joey Logano hopes to give Ford first Coke 600 win in 18 years

Dale Jarrett and Mike Tirico discuss how NASCAR is taking advantage of being one of the first live sports to return and how this could help convert new fans.

Joey Logano was the last Ford driver to win a Cup Series race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval in 2015.

Who better to ask what’s needed in Sunday’s Coca-Coal 600 (6 p.m. ET on Fox) for a Ford driver to win NASCAR’s longest race for the first time in 2002.

That’s right, the blue oval hasn’t been to Victory Lane in the Coke 600 in 18 years. The last driver to do it was Mark Martin, when he capped off four straight years of Coke 600 wins by Roush Fenway Racing.

Since then, only three of Ford’s 30 Charlotte oval wins have occurred, all coming in the fall race that has since been converted to a race on the roval. The last was Logano.

So what will it take to end a nearly two decade drought?

“Go faster than everybody, I guess,” Logano said with a laugh Friday in a Zoom press conference. “I can think of quite a few 600s (where I’ve been) very close to winning. ... have yet to break through.”

Logano placed second in the 2019 edition of the race, which ended a four-race streak of Logano placing 21st or worst on the Charlotte oval.

“As a Coca-Cola driver, I know how big of a deal it is to win that thing and feel the pressure to do it,” Logano said. “I want to get it done. I’ve been, like I said, close. There are different things every time and it takes the whole package to make it happen. The driver has got to be on his game. The pit crew’s got to be on it. The car’s got to be good and things gotta fall your way, so I guess in recent years it hasn’t for the Ford guys, but I wouldn’t bet money against us this week.”

MORE: Logano: Never shorten the Coke 600

Logano is one of two drivers, the other being Denny Hamlin, who have won twice in the first six races of the year. Logano’s victories came at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the 1-mile Phoenix Raceway.

Logano was the only Ford driver with a win this year before Kevin Harvick’s win last Sunday at Darlington.

“Just want to (win the Coke 600) so bad, but that race track with this 550 (horsepower) rules package is pretty intense on these restarts,” Logano said. “There is gonna be three and four-wide racing. There’s more room at Charlotte than there is at Darlington, so there’s gonna be more aggressive moves that you’ll see.

“I expect the outside lane still to be the dominant one and that’s something we’ve got to fight through. ... I guarantee those restarts are gonna be super-intense because once you get 15-20 laps into a run, it just gets harder and harder to pass. But for the first 15-20 laps it’s gonna be game on, where we’re gonna be very intense out there pushing and shoving.”