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Jun 20, 2014 - 06:42 PM
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2014 Sonoma Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Joey Logano
Posted by: ASkyler on Jun 20, 2014 - 06:41 PM
NASCAR News
2014 Sonoma Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Joey Logano


Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion, is virtually assured of a Chase berth with two victories so far this season. Logano spoke with members of the media before today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice about Sunday’s race at Sonoma Raceway.

JOEY LOGANO - No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion - "I like coming here. It’s such a fun race track for us and obviously a change-up for NASCAR to come to these road courses. Sonoma, I always felt is kind of like the short track of road course racing for me. Tire wear is definitely very high too, so that strategy that comes into this race also with people talking about the two-stop or three-stop race, that comes into play there. So strategy, passing each other, keeping the fenders on this thing, keeping it on the race track, it’s just such a challenging place and makes it a lot of fun. Usually there about four or five guys that are smiling after the race and everyone else is really mad at each other, so I can’t wait (laughing)."

 

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CAN YOU TALK ABOUT ANY WILD EXPERIENCES YOU’VE HAD ON THE ROAD COURSE AND WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE RACING HERE? "I think everyone has always had some kind of experience here. I think everyone in this race has gotten spun out at this race track at some point. That just happens. When you’re trying to slow down these cars - I’m looking at turn 11 right now - and think about the way you get in there and how fast you’re going to how slow you’ve got to get this thing whao’d up. There’s just a lot of wheel-hopping and something happens down there and you get a lot of issues, but this track in general through the esses is probably one of the most fun parts of it, going left to right, so you’ve got to be really slow with the steering wheel and how you transfer the weight from turning to the left back to the right and then back the other way. It’s fun too to kind of set up your race car here because you can set up your car for the esses or you set up your car for 11, turn seven, turn four and those areas too and it’s gonna be something completely different. It’s cool when you’re racing cars and you’ve got to figure out where you’re better than them because your car might be good in certain areas and really bad in others and vice versa for them, so it’s hard. Everybody talks about a compromise at Pocono, but it’s even more here because you kind of want to have a good platform for the esses, but then you kind of want to be soft in the back and have some roll to have some drive off these corners when you come to the tighter corners looking for the drive off, so it’s a challenging place to set your car up."

WHY HAS THIS PLACE RESEMBLED MARTINSVILLE OF LATE WITH ALL THE BEATING AND BANGING, AND DO YOU SEE THAT CONTINUING? "Oh yeah, I expect the same thing when we come here. The speeds are low and you’re trying to pass people into braking zones. It’s one of the main passing zones is into seven and 11 for the most part and the way you do it is you’ve got to get right up on them on exit and then you’ve got to out-brake them, and when you’re both braking with everything you’ve got and then you’re trying to go a little further to get him, it’s not really there, it’s not possible and your tires are wearing and your brakes are getting hotter. Everything just gets worse throughout the race, so at the end of the race when the intensity level is up and everyone’s car is not handling as well we run into each other. That’s a product of it. That’s why you want to be the guy that’s being aggressive and not the one that’s getting pushed around. That’s important. That’s why you want to make sure you have a fast race car and you’re good in those right areas. That’s why practice is so important here coming up is to make sure we’re good in those areas that are danger zones on this race track."

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED -- THOUGHTS ON KENTUCKY NEXT WEEK. "Kentucky is definitely one of those tracks that is right in our wheelhouse, I feel like at Team Penske. It’s a bumpy mile-and-a-half. I feel like that’s where we’re best is those bumpy tracks with a wore out surface, but still has a lot of speed in it. Kentucky kind of falls into that. It’s a special race track for me because I got my first Nationwide win there and backed it up with a couple of other ones. We’ve run OK in the Cup car there, but haven’t gotten that win yet, so I feel confident going to a race track like that. A bumpy race track is always exciting, so we want to go get another win before we get in the Chase and keep this momentum going that we’ve got and hit the Chase hard. That track is important, but it’s more of a momentum-builder and making sure we can get going, so we’re not testing for it or anything like that because it’s not in the Chase right now, but it’s still an important race for us to go out there and make sure we keep running well."

HOW MUCH OF THE CONTACT HERE IS INTENTIONAL AND HOW MUCH IS A MISTAKE? "The first one is always an accident and then after that I don’t know how much is an accident (laughing). I think it depends on what’s going on. Usually, we all try to start the race calm, cool and collected. Everyone is kind of just running their deal and then one person gets hit and gets knocked out of the way and then he’s mad, and then he hits someone else and now the next guy is mad, so that just triggers it off and there you go. I think everyone starts with the right attitude and then at the end all manners are out the window and it’s all about just getting those positions. Like I said, there are four or five people that are pretty calm that might not have a mark on their race car because everyone else is gonna get beat around and when you get beat around you get ticked off. It happens."

DO YOU WORRY ABOUT THE AGGRESSION LEVEL OF GUYS WHO DON’T HAVE A WIN YET AT A TRACK LIKE THIS? "Look at the guys that are good at these road course and you look at the guys that haven’t won yet this season. They’re starting to get desperate, I’m sure. They’re starting to get to that panic mode at this point in the season and if this is one of those race tracks where you feel you can capitalize on, and you’re close to it, they’re gonna be desperate and they’re gonna do some crazy things out there. So that’s why it’s so important to be on the aggressive side. Like I was saying earlier, I want to be the guy pushing. I don’t want to be the guy getting pushed around. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got a car you can do that with because it’s easier said than done. If you’re the guy running up front, and you look at the top three, four, five cars, they will be ones that won’t have many marks on it, so you’ve got to be consistently up there. You’ve got to be patient. You can’t get too fired up, but you’ve got to be the aggressive one and I think those guys that haven’t had the win are gonna get desperate and it’s gonna be either checkers or wreckers for them. Hopefully, I’m far enough ahead that it’s not a problem."

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE NEW QUALIFYING FORMAT AND HOW DO YOU THINK IT WILL WORK AT THE ROAD COURSE? "I was talking about it this morning. It’s tough here. It’s probably gonna be the hardest place we’ve come to so far on how we’re going to do this because a car is gonna be rolling out of the pits, probably with not a whole bunch of speed, and there will be cars on their flying laps that are gonna catch them. And then you think about after the lap you’re gonna shut down at the line and you’re gonna be coasting around and saving your tires for the next session, and there is gonna be someone on their flying run. So there’s a bigger chance here than anywhere else we’ve gone so far on getting a lap screwed up by someone rolling around slow. You think about the esses and you’re going through there so quick left to right that it’s hard for that guy to get out of the way because at one corner, if it’s a left-hander, he’s in the right lane and the next one he’s in the wrong lane. It’s like, how do you get out of the way quick enough and also save what you’re got for the next session? That’s one of the challenging points. And like I said, you come out of the pits to take your green you’re not going fast then either. You’re probably not gonna hit it until the bottom of the esses or something like that. It might be different for everyone, but that’s gonna be a challenge for sure on how you get yourself out there and get yourself a good hole to go. I think a lot will depend on the spotters and when they tell you to go and where the other cars are. It’s gonna be just as important for the guy on their flying lap as the guy that’s on the way in or on the way out going slow to make sure they don’t get in the way. It’s gonna happen to somebody. I feel fairly confident that someone is gonna get screwed up with a car pulling in front of them and they’re gonna have to go out and run a second lap. The way tires fall off here, if you have to run a second lap to get to the next session it’s gonna be very challenging to get to the next one after that even if you’re able to do that. There’s just a lot of fall off here."

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED -- WHY DO YOU FEEL ONE DRIVER DOESN’T DOMINATE HERE AT THE ROAD COURSE LIKE THEY USED TO? "Everyone is trying a lot harder, I guess. The competition level always gets harder every year. Everyone is always trying to get better. No one is just saying, ‘OK, we’re good enough and let’s just stay the way we are for next year.’ Everyone is always trying to get better and that’s not just the drivers that’s the teams also. I think before a driver could kind of overcome their car here. I don’t know how much effort teams used to put into it and I don’t know how much effort the drivers put into it. If you put a decent driver in an OK car, you can run pretty well here. Now, I feel like every driver out here is pretty good at road course racing, and all these teams - we test to come out here. I’m sure every team has tested at some point on their way out here, especially with the new rules package this year and getting the new ride heights and figuring all that out. That’s a huge change, especially when you come to these road courses, so trying to figure out where you want to be there. I know Team Penske has put a lot of effort into it. I’ve seen other teams testing at road courses and I think because we’re testing and because we’re trying harder the drivers are getting better at it. They’re understanding what they need in their car to go fast at a road course and I think that’s why you don’t see the guys back in the early 2000’s and the nineties that were dominating when they’d come to these race tracks and there were four or five guys that could win the race. Now there are 20 guys that can win this race and I think over the last few years, you look here at Sonoma the MWR cars have done really well. They’ve had some really good drive and this rules change can be a big change for them, you never know. Hopefully, it works in our favor. We were decent last year, but we weren’t by no means a winning car. We were able to lead some laps, but not able to be there at the right time. It’s just so much that goes into winning these races now. The strategy has to play out perfectly, your race has to go well - all we’ve talked about so far is there’s so much that goes into winning these road course races and that’s what makes this special because there are only two of them a year. So if you’re able to do that, it’s kind of a special win."

HOW MUCH BETTER OF A ROAD COURSE DRIVER ARE YOU TODAY? "Quite a bit. I didn’t do any road course racing growing up. I was always a short track, asphalt racer. I did a few schools and worked with Boris (Said) some. I’ve worked with quite a few different drivers to try and figure this out and the first two times I think was really bad, and then I came here the third time and we put it on the pole and that was like the biggest surprise of my life. I was like, ‘How in the heck did we just get the pole in the Cup race at Sonoma? Go figure.’ I was not expecting that and then we ran really well in that race and that was kind of like a light switch went off like, ‘OK, I think I get it now. I think I know what I’m supposed to do.’ If you don’t grow up doing it or haven’t raced a lot, it’s challenging, but any driver that gets to this level has a lot of talent and you’re able to figure it out. You’ve just got to give them a little bit of time and I think that’s why you see the talent level so high, not only at road courses but everywhere we go to and they’re just able to figure it out because a driver is a driver no matter what you put them in."

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THE FANS OUT HERE? "Sonoma is a great place to come to. I love coming out here. It’s fun to watch the dynamic of fans because we can go from the east coast to the west coast and everywhere in between and everybody is different. It’s fun to just kind of meet them and meet the different types of race fans in different parts of the country. They all have one thing in common they all love racing - they all love NASCAR racing and I think that’s great. I love talking to them and meeting with them. It’s definitely a beautiful area out here and I enjoy coming each year to see everyone and hopefully win a race."

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED -- WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE INDY TEST FROM THIS PAST WEEK AND DID YOU SEE TONY’S ACCIDENT? "Obviously I was there and I didn’t actually see the wreck, but I heard it. It sounded bad and the car didn’t look too pretty afterwards. After that we made some changes on the tires to try to cut some speed out of the cars. I think what we saw there was Tony had the fastest car there at the time and he didn’t have any fall off and was making a longer run. I think the fact there’s no fall off in the tire, the heat stays in the tire so much that eventually it blows out that shoulder. At that point Goodyear said, ‘OK, we’ve got to figure out a way to knock some speed out of these race cars.’ So we went to a different left side tire. I don’t know where they’re gonna go from there. I know when we left they were gonna go back and discuss where they wanted to be, but I think they’re going in the right direction on making sure they have the security in the tire, making sure it’s safe and go out there. Yeah, we were faster out there just like every other track we go to this year. When you add downforce and take ride height rules away we’re gonna go faster and that’s what’s challenging for Goodyear right now. It’s definitely a very big challenge when you come to a race track and you go faster and you’re already on edge. You’ve got to come back with something that’s even more durable and that’s hard. Here’s a driver who always wants more grip and a softer tire and all that, and then we come to the race track with a car that has more downforce that goes faster and you can’t physically build a tire to do that. It’s so challenging for them right now and I understand it, so I think all the drivers are understanding of that also - and the teams. We’re working with them as much as we can. We’re giving them the best information we can to make sure it’s a great race for our fans and when it all comes out at the end we hope it comes out well. So far these races have gone great, so we’ll keep going with that."


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