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May 02, 2014 - 06:15 PM
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2014 Talladega Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Joey Logano
Posted by: ASkyler on May 02, 2014 - 06:08 PM
2014 Talladega Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Joey Logano

Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion, is coming off his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season after taking the checkered flag in Saturday’s race at Richmond International Raceway. Logano held a Q&A session in the infield media center at Talladega to talk about a variety of issues.

JOEY LOGANO - No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion - CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR WEEK SO FAR? "Obviously, the last few weeks have gone well. Coming off a win at Richmond was great and then a lot of times when you win a lot of other obligations come in, a lot of media stuff, so we worked through some of that and then coming here to Talladega we consider it a little bit of a lighter weekend because we don’t practice a whole bunch here, so it’s kind of the perfect week to take that win and still be ready and get all your ducks in a row for when you get here to Talladega. So we’re ready to go and try to put our Shell/Pennzoil Ford in victory lane one more time."

WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING TO SEE IN QUALIFYING TOMORROW WITH THE NEW FORMAT BEING USED FOR THE FIRST TIME ON A PLATE TRACK? "I don’t think anyone knows for sure what’s gonna happen. I will say that we have a little game plan to work and try to make sure our cars not only stay safe but are able to go out there and post a good lap and just try to get through all of the segments. Our car is still the only car to get through every segment this year so far. That’s something to be proud of. This is the one real wild card because there’s a good chance the fastest car may not get the pole this week. That’s gonna be something very different. There’s a lot of strategy that’s gonna go into this. We’re gonna watch Nationwide qualifying and see what they do there, and then also I think if you look at the practice we had here last year when we knew qualifying was gonna get rained out and everyone kind of did it, it took five laps for everyone to get going because no one wanted to be the lead guy. I think guys are just gonna go and go out there. I think there will be a point that there are gonna be a lot of cars out there. I think you have to put your lap up very quick because I think after the first five minutes the top 18 cars or so are probably gonna pit, and not be out there. So the less cars that are on the race track, the harder it is to run that fast lap. I’ve been working with my teammate Brad, and also McDowell some I think and kind of figure out what we’ve got to do to put together a good package for us to run a fast lap and have the right strategy, and also stay out of the crash because I think it’s gonna happen. I think there will be a wreck within this qualifying session just because the closing rate you’re gonna be catching some of these guys. For guys in the middle of the race track and then you’re going to the bottom, he decided he wants to get out of the way and goes to the bottom, oh, shoot, you’re gonna get in a crash. So you’ve got to be on your toes throughout the whole session. I think as each session goes it’s gonna get a little bit calmer because obviously there are gonna be less cars out there."


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YOU AND BRAD TRIED TO GO IN THE LOW LINE LAST YEAR AND NOBODY WENT WITH YOU. WHY? "There are multiple theories behind it, but I do feel like Daytona this year was better than what we had last year for the package that we had, and I think because of the added spoiler. For one reason, I think the reason why the bottom lane doesn’t work as well is that you’ve got those big shark fins on the side and the spoiler does not overhang the shark fin to the left side, so when you’re side drafting a car from the left, it’s not as effective as it is on the right. So everyone protects the top to make sure nobody gets to the right side of them, and then the left side is just like I said, it’s hard to pull them back. For that reason, everyone knows how hard it is and no one really goes down there and you just don’t go. Obviously, it’s the shortest way around so it’s very tempting. There are a lot of times the top lane checks up a lot and you feel like you’ve got the momentum to do it, and you can probably pass two or three cars in the corner, but if you don’t get up off the corner, you’re done and you’ll lose 15 spots. So I think a lot of people look at it as risk versus reward - gain three spots or a loss of 15 or 20 spots. I think that’s why a lot of guys just decide to hang up top until people start running out of patience and going to the bottom. I’m guilty of that. I’m guilty of running out of patience because I want to go win the race. If I’m running 10th or so, I don’t feel like I’m in position to win it, so I want to go for it and try to get some track position and try to do something at the end of it, but it’s a different type of racing now, for sure. But I do feel like with the added spoiler we’ve got this year that we’re able to side draft cars a little easier, a little better from the bottom that allows the inside lane to work a little bit better."

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED - HOW MUCH DOES HAVING TWO WINS NOW CHANGE YOUR APPROACH AS FAR AS TESTING NOW? DOES IT CHANGE EVERYTHING? "It changes a lot. I don’t really feel like Richmond changed our game plan any from what we had before we won at Richmond. I feel like one win is gonna be enough, I think, especially if you look at the points position that both the 22 and the 2 are right now. I think we’re sixth and seventh, which there are gonna be guys that aren’t as far up in points that get that win, and with a long ways to go we can still be way back in points by the time this Chase starts, but with two wins you feel very, very confident. But even with one I think that’s gonna be enough to get you into this Chase, but you never know. This is a wild card event that you never know. A guy that you wouldn’t typically think is gonna win the race can win this. We saw that last year, but it does change it to answer your question. We’ve scheduled our tests completely different to make sure we’re prepared for the Chase and not prepared to get into the Chase. The way we build our cars and the timing of when our new spec cars come out, all of that stuff is timed out to make sure we’re ready for the Chase. It’s nice to have that this early in the season. Here we are nine or 10 races into the season and to already have a couple wins, but to be able to really focus on getting the Chase ready - I’m not saying that we’re coming here all lackadaisical and don’t care, I still want to go out there and win and I know my team does. We want to keep that momentum just because we want to have the ball rolling and have that momentum by the time the Chase comes."

WOULD YOU FEEL YOUR RESUME IS MORE COMPLETE IF YOU WIN THIS RACE? "I think anytime you win a race anywhere, these races are hard to win. I like how you call it a casino because there is some truth behind that, but, at the same time, a lot of skill goes in to winning these things. You look at some of the guys who are more aggressive out there, I think if you look at Matt Kenseth, I feel like he’s one of the best speedway racers out there right now and he’s also one of the most aggressive as far as cutting it close from cars behind. Sometimes that gets in him trouble, but a lot of times he’s up towards the front and he’s leading a lot of laps and he wins a lot of these races. It’s risk versus reward again, like we talked about a minute ago. How aggressive you are to making those blocks and making sure you get those runs and pushes and sometimes it might be a small hole, but if you can make it work it pays off. There is a lot of skill that goes in to winning a race like this, but it’s a lot different skill than what we do every other week, and it’s a lot more of a crapshoot, like you say it’s a casino. A lot more plays in to it here because other people determine what your future is."

CAN YOU REFLECT ON WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES? "A lot of things stacked up against us at this point last year, but we were still fast. We still had a lot of speed in our cars, but a lot of events had been going on and we were in the middle of all the drama it seemed like every week no matter what it was. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but that shows how tough my team is because we fought through that and were able to get that win at Michigan and make the Chase last year after all that you just said. That says something about a team right there, and now this year, so far, knock on wood, we’ve been able to cut out the drama and I think you see those results for some of that reason and also having another year under your belt with the team. Obviously, the chemistry keeps building - myself and Todd Gordon are clicking right now and he’s giving me what I need and I’ve been able to do my job. That’s why you see those race results there, so for two reason - we cut out the drama, and we’re able to build off a year of getting to know each other and being able to use that to our advantage now."

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED -- HOW HAVE YOU MATURED? "I’ve been doing this for six years now, so I’ve been through a lot. I started when I was young as we all know, but to be able to have that experience now and been through a lot of different experiences. I went through a lot of experiences last year, but in the years prior to that quite a few of them coming into the Sprint Cup Series as an 18 year old and going through some of the stuff I had to do and pretty much growing up in front of everybody, so it’s hard to say one thing has changed me or made me mature into who I am now. I’m obviously not to where I want to be yet. I always want to keep getting better and I think that goes for everyone. I’m sure Jimmie Johnson wants to keep getting better and that’s what it takes to go out there and win championships. I’m trying to say one thing, but there are just so many little things here and there that has changed me as a driver and a person."

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE CALLED AN ALL-STAR? "I love it. I think it’s the most fun race we run all year. It’s so much fun. You’re going for a million bucks. Second place doesn’t really pay nothing compared to what it pays to win the thing and everybody knows that and there’s nothing to lose. The whole week is fun because we get to qualify by making a pit stop and going 150 miles an hour down pit road. That’s really cool - a little bit crazy, but really cool. It’s just a fun week. The way the race plays out you don’t really know where you’re gonna start the last round and I don’t really know what the rules are this year for it yet, you guys might know and probably know a lot more about it than I do because I have no clue if they changed them or not. I get through one week at a time, but that whole weekend is fun and it’s an honor to be in the All-Star Race. It’s hard to get in it and, fortunately, we’ve been able to win the races to get ourselves into it, but once you’re in it you want to go for the win. I finished second in it last year and I don’t think anybody even knows that. Nobody really cares, so that’s why you’ve got to go for the win there and why everyone has the same attitude when they go there. It’s a lot of fun. You don’t have the pressure of points. You don’t have the pressure of really anything. It’s all for the win. It’s all for the money."

DO YOU SEE ANY DIFFERENCE IN HOW DRIVERS TREAT YOU ON THE TRACK NOW THAT YOU HAVE A COUPLE WINS? "Driver relationships are all unique because you think about it, it’s a competitor so it’s hard to be friends with a competitor right off the bat. Here’s someone you want to beat, so you know you’re going against him. That’s very difficult. It’s easier to be friends with your teammate or someone like that because it’s a guy you’re working back and forth with and you’re trying to make each other better. But I’m not trying to make someone on a different team better. I don’t really want to do that. Then I’ve got to go out there and compete against him. They’re very unique. They’re very different and sometimes we run into each other and you’ve got to go through the process of rebuilding that, but I think it’s hard to have that real tight friendship with another driver. I think all the drivers would probably agree with that. There’s a certain line that we all kind of go to and that’s it because we want to beat each other. We’re all here to win, but having the best relationship you can build on the race track helps - that give-and-take you give on the race track and then the way guys act and treat each other off the race track all kind of adds up, especially here at Talladega and how this race plays out."

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT OUT OF PRACTICE HERE TODAY? "I don’t expect people to be practicing their qualifying stuff, I don’t think. If that does happen, I’m sure it will happen in the second practice, but we’re focused on getting our car good enough to race and make sure it’s solid. When you come to these speedways there’s only so much you can change. You make all your speed at the shop. You don’t really make much speed once you get here anymore these days. Remember the old days they used to cut off the car and put new fenders on it and do all that crazy stuff. We don’t do that, so you’ve only got so much you can change when you come here for practice, so it’s really all about making sure your car is decent, tune your motor in, maybe make a change if the balance is really off, and that’s about it. We’re planning on three runs. We’re not gonna make qualifying runs because we’re gonna be out in the pack for qualifying, so that takes that out that we used to do. Now it’s about making sure your car drives good, making sure it’s got decent speed, make sure your motor is tuned in good. There may be a few guys that are practicing laying back in the pack and trying to make that run and trying to figure out when they need to time it to go and try to get through the field, but I would assume the front cars in the draft today in practice today are gonna be out there trying to make sure their car is OK. If there’s a guy trying to make a big lap running through the field, they’re gonna get blocked off at some point and not really have that practice of qualifying."

WHY DO YOU FEEL THE RACING HAS CHANGED HERE OVER THE YEARS? IS IT THE RACE PACKAGE OR MENTALITY OF DRIVERS ON WHO WILL BE MORE AGGRESSIVE THAN OTHERS? "It’s all due to the package we’re dealt. I feel like the drivers will adapt to what car they have and the rules package NASCAR has given us to go out there and win. So that’s why I think you see the racing change. You had the two-car draft that we used to have - two-car tango or whatever you guys want to call it - we had that and that’s gone now. Because of the new package and new extended bumper we can’t get to each other very well or be able to stick there when we get there, so that’s changed the racing. That’s not because of us not being as aggressive or anything like that, it’s just because we can’t physically get there anymore. And then as far as the pack and the draft, that’s just what the cars have dealt us here and that’s why you see that type of racing now."

I’M SURE DURING YOUR DRAMA LAST YEAR YOU MAY HAVE WANTED TO PUNCH SOMEBODY. WOULD IT HAVE BEEN WORTH $25,000 OR ARE YOU GLAD YOU DIDN’T? "That’s not a fair question to ask me right now (laughing), but, yes. I think when you’re in the heat of the moment and someone is in your face or something like that, or you get wrecked, or something happened, yeah. You’re not thinking about 25-grand at that point. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a lot of money, but it’s like after you do it probably you think, ‘Ah, man. Let me get my checkbook out.’ I think NASCAR had to do something about it. I’m glad there are no points or anything like that that was handed out. I think that would have been a little excessive. I think for what it was, I don’t know. I wasn’t in the middle of it, but I’m sure they think it’s worth it."

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