Marty Smith caps day of stellar journalism across ESPN with NASCAR’s Joey Logano interview

NASCAR reporter Marty Smith. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN)

NASCAR reporter Marty Smith. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN)

ESPN had itself a day on Tuesday with original reporting on four national stories of note.

From Scott Van Pelt’s radio (and SportsCenter’s simulcast) interview with Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott to Outside the Lines’ disturbing story of Rutgers coach Mike Rice’s practice behavior to Josina Anderson’s feature on why Derrick Rose hasn’t returned to the Chicago Bulls, the network’s journalists were working overtime to deliver stories on the topics sports fans were most discussing.

The day was capped off with ESPN NASCAR lead reporter Marty Smith obtaining an exclusive sit-down interview with driver Joey Logano, who has been at the center of controversy early in this NASCAR season. Front Row gives some insight into how Smith got the interview:

Since being involved in some incidents in the past two NASCAR Sprint Cup races, Logano has been swirling in controversy. The storm especially grew after he and Denny Hamlin crashed at the end of the most recent race at Fontana, Calif., with Hamlin being injured and three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart confronting Logano post-race.

Joey Logano (Allen Kee/ESPN Images)

Joey Logano
(Allen Kee/ESPN Images)

Smith was able to land an exclusive with Logano today, the driver’s first on-camera interview since the California race. Portions will air on the 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter with more on tonight’s NASCAR Now at 11 p.m. PT on ESPN2.

Smith reached out the day after the California race, but with NASCAR taking Easter weekend off and Logano having a sponsor commitment, scheduling the interview became the most difficult part.

“I let all the dust settle a bit and I just told them, hey, if there’s an opportunity for me to sit down with Joey I would love to do it, just to let him clear the air, and they granted it,” Smith said. “He was into doing the interview and he appreciated the opportunity to do it.”

Once Logano and Smith sat down at Penske Racing in Mooresville, N.C., Smith pulled no punches. And Logano was forthcoming, discussing his actions on and off the track and those of other drivers.

“I personally feel like if they’re going to grant you the time, then you’d better be prepared and I think that those are the questions the fans want answered,” said Smith. “So if you don’t ask them, I don’t think you’re doing your job justice or respecting the platform well enough.

“So as long as you’re fair in the way that they’re asked and the context in which they’re asked, fire away as far as I’m concerned.

“I did press him about a couple of things he wouldn’t go for,” Smith said.

“He did say he hasn’t talked to Tony Stewart, doesn’t necessarily plan to and he has nothing to say to him. And he does care very much about his reputation among his peers and what people think about him. He said anybody that says otherwise is lying to you.

“He had a lot to say,” Smith said. “He was really good.”