Ford Performance NASCAR: Daytona 500 Media Day (Joey Logano)

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Daytona Media Day
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang — DANIEL HEMRIC IS GETTING HIS CUP START AT 27 YEARS OLD. CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE FOR YOU TO START AT THAT AGE? “It’ll be a little easier than what it was for me when I was 18 (laughing). It’s just different. I think, in a way, that’s probably good for him because a lot of times, I know just from my experience, if you start too early and you make a name for yourself the wrong way or you don’t make it and you get put back down to XFINITY or Trucks, that’s usually it. It’s over and that’s the end of your Cup career, most likely. But for him he’s more prepared, he’s more ready, he’s more mature. He’s been through some stuff in his racing career where he’s more ready to make the big step, which I think is probably a smart move on his part.”

HOW FORTUNATE DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO LAND WITH PENSKE? “I tell everyone everyday that I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I was that. I started too young. I made a lot of mistakes. I didn’t succeed. I lost my job and God willing gave me an amazing shot to race for Roger Penske. How does that happen? I remind myself that everyday that I’ve been put in an amazing spot and I better take advantage of it, but I also know going into that, like I always say, it’s my second time in knowing and learning a lot more or knowing a lot more than what I did the first time. I was able to attack that second chance a lot better.”

WHAT MAKES DAYTONA SO DIFFICULT TO WIN? “Everybody wants to win (laughing). There are a lot of cars that want to win, a lot of good cars. And just like any other superspeedway race anything can happen at any moment, and we saw even last lap of the Daytona 500, last lap of the Clash, there’s something that’s gonna happen on the last lap most of the time. There’s gonna be a run, you’re gonna have to defend it, there might be a crash that you’re gonna have to get through. Everybody kind of looks at the Daytona 500, yeah points are great, but it’s not about the points for this race, it’s about winning the Great American Race, the biggest race of the year. That’s what it’s all about. Nobody really cares about getting second or third-place points in this race as much as they would maybe in Atlanta saying, ‘OK, we start our championship run.’ Yes, it starts here at Daytona, but this race means more and it stings to finish second.”

IS IT FAIR TO SAY THE FRONT IS THE LEAST SAFE PLACE TO BE? “I don’t think it’s the least safe place. I don’t think there’s a safe place when you’re out there. When you’re running sixth or seventh you can see the leaders dicing it out, throwing blocks, doing things, but if you’re sixth or seventh you’re right behind that and most likely you’re gonna get caught up in it. I got lucky the other night that I got through it, but most likely if you’re anywhere close to it, you’re not gonna make it through. It’s the same if you’re the leader, then at least you’re in control of the blocks that are there, you can control your destiny a little bit better. I’d rather be in that spot.”

IS IT BECAUSE OF THE HEIGHTENED IMPORTANCE OF BLOCKING? “It’s just evolved. As the race car drivers get better at drafting and understanding it better every time we all become more aggressive. The cars handle OK, but they’re not the most stable things to drive. You can’t just throw the thing around like it’s an Indycar and expect it to stick. That doesn’t work, but we have to sometimes make moves that quick and sometimes the car doesn’t want to do that.”

DID YOU KNOW YOU COULD BECOME THE FIRST DEFENDING CHAMPION TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500 SINCE DALE JARRETT? “I heard that about a month ago and I said that would be pretty cool, so we’ll give that a shot. That sounds good.”

HOW HAS WINNING THE TITLE CHANGED YOUR LIFE? “Everybody always says, ‘Hey, Champ!’ (Laughing) That part is kind of neat. Outside of that, it doesn’t change a whole bunch, and I’m glad it didn’t. I became busier, obviously. You guys want to talk to me a little more, that’s kind of cool. It doesn’t feel good when you sit here and nobody is really listening to you, so this is great.”

WERE THERE TIMES WHEN YOU WERE ALL BY YOURSELF HERE? “Oh, yeah. I’ve been here a while ago, but I’ve been there. What I told my team and I told my wife and everyone I said, ‘That was last year,’ and one of my favorite Roger Penske quotes is ‘don’t trip on your press clippings,’ and that’s one of my favorite ones because that’s last year and we need to keep looking forward because right now we’re past champions in my eyes. As soon as we unloaded down here the championship fun is over and it’s back to trying to win another one. We’re back at zero with everybody else, so we’re gonna fight that.”

WHAT WAS THE MOST FUN? “Winning was the best part. To me, the most fun was just right when you get out of the car and you see your team, you see your family, they’re on the victory lane stage and all that. That, to me, was the most rewarding and fun piece — to see everybody else’s face as excited as I was and then getting back home after the media tour and watching all the specials on TV and kind of reliving the moment. That was a lot of fun for me.”

IS THE SEASON TOO LONG? “I don’t think so. I enjoy every bit of this. I still love my job. I don’t know if you love coming to the track, but I freaking love this, and it hasn’t changed in the last 10-11 seasons for me. I still look forward to getting down to Daytona. I got down here early just because I wanted to get down here. I get excited about it. It’s a lot of fun to race these stock cars. It’s been my dream since I was a kid, so if I complain about a season being too long that would be pretty dumb and I’m really just not like that.”

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE THE GRIND OF THE SEASON AND MAINTAIN YOUR EDGE? “It is a long season, there’s no doubt about it. Like I said, I think I enjoy the grind and that’s how I get through it. I have fun with it. You can joke around, but I also take it very serious at the same time and I think that balance allows me to stay focused for a long period of time so that you don’t kill yourself. If you can have fun doing what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work. If you feel like you’re going to work every single day for that long, then it does feel like a really hard grind and you can’t wait for the season to end, but, for me, the season ends and I’m like, ‘Well, I want to go race something this weekend,’ because that’s how I work.”

DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE ICONIC FIGHT BETWEEN YARBOROUGH AND ALLISON? “Like I said earlier, that’s the biggest race of the year. Whether it’s now or then, it was a big deal to win the Daytona 500 and it still will be, and it is. They play it every year about five or six times, so I’m sure I was a little guy the first time I saw it.”

ANY WORRIES ABOUT THE MUSTANG? “No. If there was a time to switch to the Mustang this was the year because there was a rules change coming with it. If you looked at Toyota and Chevy, when they switched to their new body there was a learning curve for them, and there will be a learning curve for us. We don’t have the body as refined as much as what we did with the Fusion, but we have a longer runway with it and that learning curve that we’re gonna have to go through, everyone else has to go through a learning curve now too because the aero rules have changed, and they have to start from scratch too. So the timing of this decision by Ford and the race teams affiliated with them, I think, is perfect. It’s as good as it can be. Maybe we have a little bit more to learn than the other teams or the other manufacturers, but I do think this is the time to do it and it’s gonna work out well, I think.”

ARE YOU DREADING THE DUEL RACE ON THURSDAY? “No, I don’t dread a race. I’m looking forward to races. I look forward to coming down here. I don’t dread a thing. There’s a race, there are points and a trophy at the end of it. We’re going to get it.”

HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF THE DAYTONA 500 WASN’T THE FIRST RACE OF THE SEASON? “I don’t really know why we would do that. I do think the Daytona 500 as a kickoff event is very important for our sport. I think it brings a lot of momentum to what we’re doing as you guys well know. We have a good race here it gives you that momentum to the west coast and kind of gets us going for the rest of the season, so I think you have to have a huge event to start. You don’t want to have a soft opening, you want to have a grand opening and I think the Daytona 500 does that.”

HOW ANXIOUS ARE YOU TO WORK WITH THE NEW RULES PACKAGE NEXT WEEK IN ATLANTA? “I’m anxious to see what it’s gonna be like. I did the Fontana test out there at Auto Club Speedway and that was interesting there. We obviously only had three cars, so you don’t really get the full effect with the draft that was into effect there and us moving around and trying to find clean air in the corners and drafting on the straightaway. We had fun. There were only three cars, but we had a blast. We were three-wide, if that means anything, so I think at that race track it’s gonna be very entertaining for a long time. Now Atlanta, I don’t know. I haven’t been there yet. That’s an unknown for a lot of race teams. Some have tested there, but I have not. I think as tires wear out the race will change a lot. I think what you’ll see on restarts is that you’re gonna see the big three-wide groups, a big pack and I think as tires wear out, which they do at Atlanta worse than anywhere, that the pack is gonna spread out a little bit and the cars that are handling good are gonna drive to the front. We kind of saw that in the Fontana test. The cars that were trimmed out when you can go wide-open all the way around the race track those cars drove to the lead, and then when that car started handling bad, the car that was maybe a little slower that had a little more downforce built in drove to the lead and drove away. So there was a lot of this comers and goers type of thing that we’re all gonna have to figure out as race teams, which is gonna be fun.”

THE AGGRESSION LEVEL ON RESTARTS WILL HAVE TO BE PRETTY HIGH, RIGHT? “Yeah, and the cars will give us the ability to do that. Before, when you have 800-something horsepower or so and you’ve got not as much downforce, you can’t make quick moves and bump into each other and push each other as much on the straightaways because the cars are unstable and you’re gonna crash. When you take horsepower away and add more downforce, now we can be more aggressive because your cars are more stable, especially on straightaways. Now when we get to the corners it’s gonna be a different game. At that point, we’re gonna have to try to find cleaner air. What I did figure out at Auto Club is that when you’re by yourself they’re not as hard to drive as they are now, but when you’re in traffic it’s even harder because they’re unpredictable. The car is going everywhere, that wake that the huge spoiler and drag ducts, all those things do in the corner makes the car unpredictable and you’re gonna see cars with big slip ups just like we did at the All-Star Race. You had the cars that were going and then made a huge mistake and you about crashed. I was one of those two times in that race, so that’s just how it’s gonna be and we’re gonna have to figure out how to handle that.”

WILL YOU LOOK FORWARD TO THE COMPETITIVENESS OF THE CHANGE? IT SEEMS LIKE SOMETHING YOU WILL LIKE. “Yeah, I’m an aggressive driver so I think it kind of plays into my hand a little bit. I think that’s a great thing, but it’s something that all of us as race car drivers and race teams are gonna have to figure out. It’s a new challenge for us. This isn’t anything that we’ve done before and it will be interesting to see just how the drivers and teams evolve over the next 10 races because you may see a couple teams figure a couple things out, a couple drivers do some things, but one thing I’ve learned about this sport is everyone studies it pretty hard and everyone is gonna find everybody’s strengths and weaknesses and work on it and the field will change throughout the course of the first 10 races or so.”

IS THAT WHEN WE’LL GET A GOOD INDICATION OF HOW THIS IS GOING TO WORK? “Yeah, we can’t be too quick to judge what’s happening. We’re all gonna judge it. That’s kind of our job, right? We’re gonna say, ‘Oh, I thought this was better or worse,’ but I don’t think one race in Atlanta or Vegas or Phoenix or Fontana, I think you’ve got to give it, like I said, seven, eight, 10 races to really understand, ‘OK, when you have the drag ducts, when you don’t have them, when you’re the 500 or the 750 package, all that stuff is gonna be something that’s gonna be up for discussion and we’re all gonna have our opinions about it, but it’s gonna change from race one to when we come back around to that same race track. It’s gonna be a completely different race. You think Texas 1 to Texas 2 how far apart those races are from each other. That’s gonna be two completely different races as the race teams figure things out as they go.”

WILL CONFIDENCE AMONG DRIVERS INCREASE ON RESTARTS WITH THIS PACKAGE? “Probably. I totally expect to crash more cars. As cars are closer and drivers are more aggressive a mistake will create a bigger crash and we can’t get away from it if you’re right behind the guy. You know how it is on the highway and they check up right in front of you. You can’t stop quick enough and you’re only going 70. Try going 180, you know? The game changes a little bit, so, yes, I assume there will be more crashes, I assume that we’re all gonna tear more stuff up this year, and usually when there are more crashes there is more conflict, so I think there will be some of that, so it’ll be interesting. Hang on.”

WILL THE TERM PLATE RACING LIVE BEYOND THIS RACE? WILL IT FOREVER BE CALLED THAT, OR WILL IT BE TAPERED SPACER RACING AT THE PLATE TRACKS? “Call it what you want, it’s racing. Honestly, it’s racing. If there is more than one car, there’s a race. I don’t care if you call it plate racing, open racing, it’s gonna be bad ass I know that . That’s all I really know.”

WILL ADAPTABILITY HAVE TO BE A DRIVER’S GREATEST STRENGTH NOW? “Yeah, you’re gonna have to be able to adapt to and, really, that’s one of the greatest strengths a driver can have is to be able to adapt to what the car is doing. We don’t have track bar adjusters anymore and now we’re going to a rules package that is gonna be more different than it’s ever been from clean air to dirty air and we don’t have the ability to adjust it anymore, so now the driver and race team has to adapt to that. It should be like that. It should be hard. It shouldn’t be easy. It shouldn’t be something that we can just move our thumb and be able to fix our car. I don’t want to do that. I want to have to work it and to steer it and give the driver and race team the ability to try to overcome some of those tough things about your race car. I like that part of it. It’s gonna be tough, but you’re gonna have to think a lot and practice what you’re gonna need in the race in traffic and then how do you maintain the clean air and those type of things. The strategy of the races will change. All of that stuff is gonna be a new challenge for us.”

WILL THAT CHANGE PRACTICE PHILOSOPHY? “Yeah, you’re gonna try to group up, especially at certain race tracks. At some tracks you won’t, but the bigger race tracks that we go to where you’re wide-open, just kind of like the Trucks. The Trucks practice like that too. If they can run around the race track wide-open by yourself are you really learning anything? So you’re gonna see a lot of cars go out together, maybe manufacturers, maybe just by random timing of when you’re out there and you see another car and you’re gonna jump out there with them. Our practice plans will have to change because of that.”

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE CHAMPION ON YOUR RESUME? “I don’t know if it’s really any different at all. It’s nice to have the box checked that you won a championship. That’s great, but, like I said, we’re back to zero and we’re not any better than anybody else now, so we need to try to defend that. Our goal is the same this year as it was last year and that’s to win every race that we sign up for and to win the championship. It hasn’t changed this year, last year or the 10 previous, so I think, really at this point, it’s not really any different. It’s nice to have that and to have the little thing on your suit, that’s super-cool — maybe the coolest part — but it’s the past now.”

BUT YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO STEP UP MORE AND BE A LEADER IN THE GARAGE AREA? “I’ve honestly tried to do that the last few years, to try to be a leader for our sport and I think all of us should do that. I think we owe that to our sport. I owe it to you guys. I owe it to my race team, to my sponsors, to step up and be more than a race car driver — just like we ask you guys to be more than just a reporter. It’s the same for us and I think that’s just the mentality that I have. Now I have maybe a little better platform to do those things. I have a little higher stool to step on as the past champion, but that’s really it.”

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