In spite of buying his glove the night before the game, Joey Logano led his Monster Mile softball team to a 12 to 6 victory over the Pocono Raceway team led by Dale Earnhardt Jr., with an assist from Darrell Wallace Jr.
The game featured media members and corporate sponsors on both teams, as well as other NASCAR celebrities including former driver and broadcaster Todd Bodine. Pocono Raceway President/CEO Brandon Igdalsky also participated, hitting a home run in the game.
Unfortunately, Igdalsky will still have to wear the ‘I Love the Monster Mile’ T-shirt due to his team’s loss.
“My team kicked everyone’s butt,” Logano said in the post-game media conference. “This is new for me for sure. I had fun though. I had a blast. I was bummed out when it was over because I wanted to keep playing.”
In addition to this being the first ever stick and ball game for Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Darrell Wallace Jr. confirmed that they too were newbies to being at bat and running the bases.
“I played basketball before but baseball was never really my thing,” Wallace said. “My guys play on the road, especially if they have a day free. They’ll fly in and try to find a baseball field to go play some softball. I got to play with them in Fontana so I had a little leg up.”
“I was surprised at how well Joey played,” Wallace continued. “He’s good at ping pong and fooz ball. But I did have two runs so I carried my Pocono team.”
“I never played in school,” Junior said after the game. “We had a company team and I played on it a couple years. So, I had an idea of what I was getting myself into.”
“But that doesn’t mean I’m very good at it.”
In addition to the celebrity softball game, the three drivers did talk some about racing, from what races they wanted to win, their best moments in the sport, to what they thought about both of the Dover and Pocono race tracks upcoming in the race schedule.
For Dale Earnhardt Jr. he has just two tracks that would be most meaningful to him personally to get in the win column.
“The 600 at Charlotte would be great to win,” Junior said. “I’ve never won a points race at Charlotte. Darlington is a driver’s race track so winning that would mean a lot to me. Those two really would mean the most to me.”
Darrell Wallace Jr. said that his best racing year to date was last year, winning both with Kyle Busch Motorsports and on the dirt at Eldora.
“We were really strong with Kyle Busch and everyone on the Kyle Busch team,” Wallace Jr. said. “We picked up four wins in the Truck Series so that was a great time for me, just getting my name out there.”
“I think what surprised everyone was the Eldora win. I don’t think anybody picked me to win that race. So, that would have to be the best.”
“Hopefully my best year will be this year,” Logano said. “But last year was the best year of my life getting married. It was an awesome experience. And having a shot at racing for a championship was a highlight. When we got to Homestead, it was just a great year altogether.”
“Last year was great for me too, winning the Daytona race and getting some other wins,” Dale Jr. said. “We hadn’t won in so long and we weren’t winning races for the last several years. So, to be able to get multiple wins in the season felt good. Winning Daytona early and getting the pressure off for that Chase, which was the first year of the Chase and everybody was nervous. So, that was good.”
All three drivers shared their excitement about heading to both Dover and Pocono in the next few weeks, enjoying each track for its uniqueness and for the variety of things to do off-track in the area.
“Dover is great,” Junior said. “It’s a real challenge because the concrete is so challenging. Getting the car to have good balance there and getting it to turn without losing rear grip is tough. So, it’s a real difficult track just going through the weekend from practice to the race. But it’s fun.”
“There are a lot of great places to go eat around there. It’s a good area. I enjoy it. I think it’s pretty fun and we’re looking forward to it.”
“Dover for me is a special place, for one being from the northeast, from Connecticut, which is not too far from there. So, I get to see a lot of family that comes there,” Logano said. “I made my first Xfinity start there and barrel rolled the first time I was ever there. I went back there the year after and they had the program that moved and changes.”
“They had the ‘Monster’ holding my car and then when you moved it, it showed the ‘Monster’ slamming it into the race track. I was like this is great, thanks, glad to be back!”
“But it’s a special place to me. My XFINITY races have been very good there with four wins. I haven’t had a Cup win there yet, but it’s been close. I consider it my favorite race track. It’s one of those places that you could drive around by yourself on it and you’d never get bored.”
“It’s just so entertaining being up and down in the race track and the racing is always competitive there. It’s a fun place to be.”
“I agree with Joey and Junior,” said Wallace Jr. “It’s a fun place all around. In 2012, I had my fourth XFINITY start there and we sat on the pole for the K&N race. After that, I saw Joey and threw the pole flag at him and he ended up winning the race. He comes back to me and he threw the checkered flag back at me.
“He had signed it ‘To the Pole Sitter from the Race Winner’. I actually have that flag framed in my apartment.”
“But to be able to sit on the pole several times there is pretty special. It’s a place where you let it all hang out and you never get bored.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. also has special feelings for the track known as the ‘Tricky Triangle”, especially after winning both of the two Pocono races.
“When I won last year, it was the first time I’d ever won at Pocono,” Junior said, “So, that was a great feeling to finally win there. I’ve been going to that track in the summer time for years.”
“I had no idea we were going to sweep. That was a big surprise. It’s such a difficult race to win. It’s real hard to get around the leader and you have to be up front the whole race. You’ve got to run hard. You can’t afford to let a guy by because it’s so hard to get back around.”
“We won last year so you go in real happy and excited and expect to do better. I think our cars are faster and better and I hope that trend stays.”
Of course, the drivers also took a moment to remember Steve Byrnes, after getting the word at the softball game that the broadcaster had lost his battle to cancer.
“Him and Dad were great friends,” Junior said. “Steve would tell me many, many times stories about my Dad, something they did together or something funny that happened between them. They were good pals.”
“I was happy that he got to see everything over the past weekend and to see how much he mattered to everybody.”
“I’ll second what Dale said,” Logano said. “It is neat that he could get to see everything that the NASCAR teams and NASCAR fans did for him last week at Bristol. That was something special. When you get that kind of respect from this industry, it means you are very special.”
“I got to know him doing some of the Race Hub shows. He was obviously a great person. I got to learn a lot from him. He’d give me little tips and pointers during commercial breaks. We would just talk and I thought that relationship was special. I cherish those moments.”
In addition to remembering and paying tribute to Steve, all of the drivers took a moment to recognize the fans that came out to the Trenton Thunder ball park to mix in some NASCAR with some baseball. In fact, the line for autographs throughout the game, especially for Dale Earnhardt Jr., often stretched the length of the stadium.
“I think this is great,” Junior said. “To be at a ball park is a great environment. Everybody is having fun and enjoying themselves. I tired to sign every autograph and to get everyone I could in between.”
“It’s cool to be recognized in these kinds of places,” Wallace Jr. said. “For me to spend five minutes signing autographs while Junior is spending an hour and five minutes is really cool.”
“I look up to Dale in a lot of ways and to see him give back to the fans and the sport is really neat. That’s what pushes me.”
“It is impressive what Dale does with the fans,” Logano acknowledged. “A lot more people like him more than me! I know why and it’s OK.”
“My life has gotten busier since the Daytona 500 but I cannot imagine what his life is like. He takes the time to meet every fan. I like meeting the fans in person and on social media and to hear what everyone is talking about.”
So, how did the drivers sum up their softball experience, whether on the losing or winning side?
“I gave 110 percent out there,” Wallace Jr. said. “And Logano was just awkward. It was like Forrest Gump when he ran, all arms and legs flying.”
“But he still got his team to Victory Lane.”