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Jul 11, 2014 - 01:20 PM
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2014 New Hampshire Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Joey Logano
Posted by: ASkyler on Jul 11, 2014 - 01:14 PM
2014 New Hampshire Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Joey Logano

Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Autotrader.com Ford Fusion, heads back to his hometown track this weekend in search of his second win here, the site of the first Cup victory of his career. Logano discussed coming home, his season to date and what will be necessary to find victory lane again this weekend with media members Friday morning.

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 AutoTrader.com Ford Fusion - JOEY, WE UNDERSTAND YOU HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT FOR EVERYONE HERE TODAY? "Yeah, this is the one-year anniversary of the Joey Logano Foundation. Last year we introduced it here at this racetrack and to come back has been a heck of a year so far. We have done some really great things so far but we have one of our first really big events coming up here for the next New Hampshire race. It will be in Wallingford, Connecticut, at On-Track Karting. We will do a Go-Kart race. That is where I am from. I raced a lot there growing up at the indoor go-kart track there. We are going to do a foundation event there and it is called On Track with ‘Joey Logano, Driven by AutoTrader.com’. It will be Thursday, September 18th from 4-9 p.m. up there, so if you guys are around, feel free to come by and go racing a little bit. We are selling teams of four for $2,000. I will be racing. There will be a couple heat races and a feature and we will have some fun and raise some money for a good cause."


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YOU SCORED YOUR FIRST CUP WIN HERE AT YOUR HOME TRACK IN 2009. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS WEEKEND? "I feel good about it. This track is one of the tougher racetracks for me but it is a special race track for me and I consider it my home track not growing up too far from here. I watched my first Cup race here and won my first Cup race here so it has always been special for me. We had a good test at Milwaukee a couple weeks ago getting ready for this race and I think we are ready to go. We learned a couple things there that are a little different than we have normally done. We are going to get out of the box a little bit and try a few different things to try to wake up this AutoTrader.com Ford Fusion."

THIS WEEKEND YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO OFFICIALLY CLINCH A TOP-30 SPOT AND WITH YOUR WINS IT WOULD MAKE YOU OFFICIALLY IN THE CHASE. WHAT KIND OF RELIEF WOULD THAT BRING WITH SEVEN RACES LEFT AFTER THIS WEEKEND? "We kind of figured we were in with the two wins anyway so it doesn’t really change much for us. We have been racing hard and racing for wins. This 22 team has been fast at each and every race track we have been to so far. It is hard not to have confidence. I know we can win at every one of them. We have to keep the momentum going. We have to keep those good finishes coming along and keep the momentum going and keep our guys ready to go when it comes to Chase time. That is the big time. We have to go out and win races and be there for Homestead."

YOU AND BRAD HAVE TALKED ABOUT GETTING LOCKED IN EARLY ON THE CHASE AND WHAT IT MEANS IN TERMS OF PENSKE SAVING ITS FOUR TESTS, I WOULD ASSUME ALL FOR CHASE TRACKS, MULTIPLE TEAMS HAVE TESTED HERE. IT SEEMS TEAMS ARE TESTING TO GET IN THE CHASE WHERE YOU GUYS ARE STOCK PILING THEM STILL. "It makes sense for teams that don’t have all their cars into the Chase yet because this is a race track that will get you into the Chase and it is also in the Chase. So you get two birds with one stone on that one. We are stockpiling them because we are both in and we are going to go to the tracks we feel we need to test the most. We are still discussing that and scheduling that and what we need to do. It is important for us to definitely think about that and not just at the tracks that we need it the most but the timing of it. It is very hard for the teams to be prepared coming into a race after a test week. You kind of get in your normal rhythm of what you do during the week before the race track and when you throw a two day test in there is gets strenuous on the guys and being prepared as a driver and crew chief and team with how we get ready. We did a few back to back tire tests a few weeks ago and it was very tough to get back at the race track and feel prepared and feel like we were ready to go. Then we had a week of having a normal week and it felt like we were more prepared. We have to be strategic on how we pick those tracks and the timing of it and when we lead up into them. We are discussing all that right now."

DOES THAT GIVE YOU AND EDGE ON TEAMS THAT HAVE USED THEIR TESTS AND YOU CAN TEST CLOSER TO THE CHASE RACES? "Yeah, it definitely gives us an edge but I feel like we already have tested more than I ever have but we haven’t used any of our team tests yet. We have been working hard and that is because of the rules change. That is because we have to figure it out. The cars are evolving so much and the setup stuff and the way we figure out things. It is a whole new book that we can go through and it wipes out a lot of your notes from last year. You are starting from a new ballgame there and are trying to figure it out. That is why we have been testing a lot and saving them to the end because the cars are evolving so quickly. If you test now it may not be relevant by the time the Chase starts. That’s how much they are changing."

THERE WAS A PERCEPTION IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE YEAR THAT FORD WAS STRUGGLING BUT THE THREE MAJOR FORD TEAMS HAVE ALL WON THE LAST THREE WEEKS. FOUR FORD DRIVERS ARE ESSENTIALLY QUALIFIED FOR THE CHASE AS WELL. DO YOU THINK THE PERCEPTION WAS OVERBLOWN AND IS THERE REASON ONE OF YOU COULDN’T WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I do feel like one of us can win the championship. I feel like it is more individual team related than Ford in general. I feel like Team Penske, the only one I can speak for and the only one I am inside, we have been doing a good job. Are we where we want to be? No. We want to keep getting better and will work with Ford with what we can work on them with to make our cars better and all of Ford better. I feel like Team Penske in general has done really well. If you look at our performance in Kentucky before Daytona was amazing. If it wasn’t for our engine issue in the 22 our cars led every single lap and we would have finished 1-2. That is something to be very proud of. The performance is still there. Each race track brings on new challenges and the Ford motor sometimes is good at certain race tracks and not as good at other race tracks. As far as our setups, Kentucky is right in our wheelhouse and we showed that and other tracks aren’t there and we have to work on that. That is why we are saving our tests and what we need to do come Chase time to make sure our weak points are as strong as our good points."

LOOKING AHEAD TO INDIANAPOLIS,WITH THESE CARS LOWER TO THE GROUND AND THAT TRACK, THE FEELING IS MAYBE YOU GUYS CAN PASS MORE AND DUEL MORE THERE. DO YOU SEE INDY BEING MORE COMPETITIVE? "I don’t know if it creates more passing zones but it changes our setups quite a bit. Your CG is lower and your springs and bars and stuff, you can do quite a bit different things than what you did before there to make it work. Your car doesn’t roll as much anymore because the CG is lower and you can get away with different springs that you couldn’t do before. We have been doing that all year. When you come to a flat race track, that difference between what we did last year and this year is greater. Look at Martinsville and Sonoma. The things we did at those places were quite different than the past."

DO YOU ANTICIPATE THE CARS HANDLING BETTER AT INDY NOW? "Yeah. We did a tire test there and there is more grip and more drive so you are on the gas a lot more. That is what we have been doing all year. I feel like the race itself will be quite a bit different. You have more drag down the straightaway and it is so long that the momentum of the trailing car will change quite a bit and be faster than the leading car at the end of the straightaway. Whether that is enough to pull up to him and get underneath him by getting into the corner, I don’t know until we get there. With two cars side by side the third car will get a huge run and there will be three and four-wide racing on restarts. That is the easiest time to make passes or get passed and I think that race being one of the most special races of the year that we go to, we are going to be racing really hard on restarts and throwing caution to the wind because we want to win that thing and on restarts is the time to do it. Restarts will be nuts for that reason."

DO YOU SEE A BIGGER SLINGSHOT AFFECT? "Possibly. I think it will be harder for the leader to take off and leave which is a good thing for Indy. We will have to wait and see but that is the direction I am thinking it will go."

NOW THAT WE ARE HALFWAY THROUGH THE SEASON, HAVE YOU SEEN CONCRETE EVIDENCE THAT DURING THE RACE WITH THE WAY THE POINTS ARE NOW IN THIS NEW SYSTEM, HAS IT HAD AN IMPACT ON THE WAY YOU RACE AND YOUR FELLOW COMPETITORS? "Yeah for sure. There have been multiple times that Todd (Gordon) and I have been talking before or during the race about the pit call and we will talk about how maybe we are running sixth and will take a chance because we can’t win from that position. We will take that shot. Chances are a lot of time making that gutsy call isn’t the right call but if it is a 20% shot at winning and you had zero where you were, you will take that chance and hopefully those tires are enough to make up what you lost by making that pit stop or staying out or whatever that change is. I think a lot of people look at it that way and as the races wind down into the Chase, the guys that aren’t in the Chase are starting to get into that panic mode to say they have to win. They will start doing the same things that the guys that are in the Chase with a couple wins are already doing to take chances. Everyone is forced to make those gutsy calls, whether that is on pit road or in the race car. I think it is good. I think it is exciting for the fans and I think inside the race cars guys are driving really hard. People are racing really hard and taking more chances. I think that puts on a better show for the fans."

YOU HAVE BEEN ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN TO THE CHASE IN THE PAST AND NOW YOU ARE ON THE INSIDE LOOKING OUT. DOES IT CHANGE HOW YOU RACE? "It is nice knowing really early in the season when we got that second win in Richmond that we were locked in. That is a nice feeling. Last year coming into this race we were like 10th in Daytona and had a right front flat there and came here and had a left rear flat and went all the way back to 16th. We thought we were in decent shape of making the Chase and two races knocked us out before we fought our way back into it. That is a challenging situation and it is very stressful and it is tough because you are using everything you’ve got to get into it and then when you get there you are somewhat wore out. The whole team is shot. This time, being in so early we can kind of make sure guys are prepared for when it comes Chase time that we are not running behind the eight ball anymore, that we are ahead of it and ready to go."

CAN YOU TALK MORE ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE OR A TRACK LIKE THIS PLACE WHERE IT CAN HURT DRIVERS BUT ALSO POSSIBLY GET A DRIVER INTO THE CHASE? "It is a tough track to pass at. We were talking about restarts earlier and restarts here will be pretty hairy. It is a lane and a half racetrack and it tight and people shoot down onto the apron and try to slide job each other. Feelings get hurt here. People get mad here. That happens. When the field is so close and it is tough to pass, people will do what they have to do to make those passes. They will run into each other. You have these long flat corners and your car is on edge for a long time and you get someone on your door and your car gets loose and you slide up into them. 90% of the time it isn’t on purpose. A lot of the time it is on accident. It is a tricky track. It is hard to get your car to slow down, turn through a long flat corner, then try to hook up 850 horsepower. That is a heck of a challenge to get that figured out and trying to do that around 42 other cars is very tough to do. It is challenging for the crew chief and driver but it is an important race for guys to get into the Chase and a very important race to get figured out and make sure we learn from mistakes made this weekend for when we come back here during the Chase."

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT TEAM PENSKE TO HAVE BOTH CARS PERFORMING AS WELL AS THEY HAVE THIS YEAR? IS THERE SOMETHING YOU GUYS HAVE DONE DIFFERENT THIS YEAR THAN LAST YEAR? "It says a lot. We came out of the gates this year with a lot of speed and really, when you see a rule change come up like we have gotten this year it presents a huge opportunity to take that and run with that and that is what Team Penske did. We ran with it and came out of the gates strong. We got both teams with two wins already and that is one thing we were able to do, take advantage of that opportunity. I feel like we have built on the relationships we have inside Team Penske, whether that is myself and Brad working together for a year and a half now which is a big deal. The way we work together to make sure our cars are going down the same direction that we both want them to and to lead Team Penske the way we want and to work with management there with Travis and Mike and Tim and myself working with Todd Gordon another year. All that stuff has brought good things and we build off where we ended last year. Last year was a learning curve year. I feel like for the 22 team at least trying to figure everybody out and for Todd to figure out what I want in a race car and how I communicate to him. Each track was different and we had to learn each other. We built off that, took advantage of the rules to be good coming out of the gates and here we are. We have to just keep doing what we have been doing and keep making sure we work hard and are ready for the Chase."

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