Ford Pocono Friday Advance (Logano)

Ford Racing NSCS Notes & Quotes:

Party in the Poconos 400 Advance (Pocono Raceway)

Friday, June 7, 2013

American Muscle

Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion, is the defending race winner of the Party in the Poconos 400 and currently sits 18th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.  Logano, who will be traveling between Pocono and Iowa this weekend for the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday night, answered questions from the media on Friday.

JOEY LOGANO – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion – THOUGHTS ON POCONO THIS WEEKEND?  “I love coming up here.  Besides the weather, this place is really cool.  Even before they repaved it I thought it was a really cool race track and obviously last year with getting our win here and having a few poles here, I think it’s an important track to come to.  I even think the atmosphere around here is cool.  There’s a bunch of stuff to do outside here and being a northeast guy it kind of feels a little bit like home for me, so I enjoy it and we’re ready to go.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON POSSIBLY NOT GETTING TO QUALIFY TODAY?  “Our big thing is I’m running Iowa this weekend in the Nationwide car, so I’m gonna have to go back and forth.  We’re trying to figure out the logistics of when we can go and how long should I stay here, so that part has been a topic of discussion this morning already for us.  If we don’t qualify, unfortunately I guess we’ll start 18th if we don’t get any practice on the race track, so I’m sure we’d be better than that if we do get to practice.  I feel like all year we’ve been able to run easy up in the top 10 most of the time, so I would expect the same here – to keep doing that – so we’ll just have to work our way up to the front.”

WHAT ARE THE LOGISTICS FOR IOWA?  “The plan was, if everything was sunny, would be to practice and qualify here.  Pocono is the priority.  Our Shell/Pennzoil Ford is our priority car, and then after qualifying was to run to the airport and fly out and get to the second practice at Iowa.  But if we rain out here sooner, I’ll try to make the first practice and the second practice at Iowa, so we’ll just have to wait and see and kind of play it by ear and see what the weather looks like and go from there.”

IS THERE ANY CHANCE YOU WOULD MISS PRACTICE HERE AT POCONO?  “No.  We’ll do what we’ve got to do to make sure we get all the track time here and to make sure we have our best shot here.  If you look at our season, we’re 18th in points but we’re really close to the Chase.  We’re only 30-something points out, I think, so we’re very capable of getting in the Chase this year and we can’t afford to not give it our all at this point.  So we’ll make sure we focus in on the Sprint Cup car and try to get the best finish out of here we possibly can.”

GREG BIFFLE SAID EARLIER THIS WEEK HE THOUGHT THE FORDS WERE LAGGING BEHIND A LITTLE BIT.  DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT?  “Well, I guess if you look at it the results don’t lie, and I think that’s obvious for all you guys to see, but I do feel like we are working really hard and trying to make improvements and trying to work together at one Ford and as one team and trying to figure out what we’ve got to do to go a little faster.  That’s how it’s always gonna be.  We’re always looking for more speed.  Even if we were the fastest cars out there, we would need more speed all the time.  That’s how our sport is and that’s how racing is.  Are we where we want to be?  No, we’re not where we want to be.  We need to be faster.  We haven’t really won the races that I feel like we should have won already this year as Ford in general, but I do not feel like we’re way far off.  All the guys at Ford are working really hard and trying to pinpoint what we need and how we can improve on it.”

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED — IS THE TIMING OF THIS TRACK GOOD FOR YOU WITH THE MOMENTUM YOU’VE GAINED?  “I look at the last few race tracks as being really good race tracks for me – Darlington, Charlotte, Dover and Pocono.  Those are pretty much my strongest race tracks and the most fun race tracks for me obviously since I’m the best at them, so this is a big time of the season for us to capitalize.  I feel like we’ve been running well.  We’ve had a lot of top fives and a lot of top 10s the last few weeks, but we’re also not where we need to be yet.  We haven’t won that race yet, so, at this point, I do feel like we go to any track and we’re gonna be competitive.  I look at last weekend at Dover and I was very proud of my team.  I thought in practice we weren’t very good and I was kind of disappointed about it before the race even started.  I’m like, ‘This is gonna be a tough day.’  We changed a lot overnight and I felt like we were a 13th or 14th-place car to begin the race and I thought, ‘Well, if we can maintain here, we can get our car better.’  Then we had the flat left-front tire, went down two laps but continued to make our car better.  We got our two laps back and came home seventh after all of that, so that’s a huge day for us to recover from looking like we were gonna finish 22nd or 23rd to finishing seventh.  That’s what we’ve got to focus on doing every week no matter what.  Being on top of that looking like it wasn’t gonna be a good race to having a solid top 10 and maybe even better if we had some more laps.  I was happy with that and that’s what we’ve got to do to get into this Chase right now.  You can see how close the points are.  It’s ridiculous how close they are.  It’s awesome for the fans and it’s good for me because I need to get up in there, but those wins are really important and if you can’t win, you have to have a solid finish at this point to keep yourself steadily moving up.”

WHAT WILL YOU DO IN IOWA IF YOU DON’T MAKE PRACTICE THERE TODAY BECAUSE OF WEATHER HERE IN POCONO?  “If we do get to a point that I can’t drive in Iowa because this is our priority, so if there’s a chance of us being on the race track in Pocono, I will be here.  But if there’s in practice at Iowa at the same time and I can’t be there, then we’ll have Sam Hornish up there.  Obviously, he’ll have his car, but he’ll be able to transfer over and drive the 22 Discount Tire Ford a little bit and just tune it in to make sure it’s close, make sure there are no vibrations and give me something close.  Then we’ll have to just go from there.  Obviously, that’s not the ideal situation.  As a driver you want to be in the car and setting it up yourself because all of us drive a different way, but I couldn’t think of someone better to put in the car than Sam.  I feel like it’s the best plan we’ve got.”

DO YOU USE SAM’S SETUPS?  “I really don’t know a whole bunch about Sam’s technique because I’ve run three or four Nationwide races and one of them was Talladega, so it’s a hard read so far to feel out.  When he says it’s tight, do I think it’s tight?  Or do I think it’s that tight?  What do we do?  Is he driving the corner harder than me or less than me to get our travels to where our splitter is right and all that, that’s something even this year with Brad and myself.  We’re trying to learn each other on different techniques at different race tracks.  I don’t have that database with Sam yet to know how that’s gonna be, but I do know he’ll get it close for me.  He’s obviously a great race car driver that’s already won a Nationwide race this year, so I feel like he can get us in the ballpark.”

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED — HOW DO YOU LOOK AT MICHIGAN, SONOMA, KENTUCKY AND DAYTONA FOR YOU?  “We can’t make any mistakes.  That’s the first thing.  Whether that’s me as a driver, I can’t make any mistakes or as a team, whether that’s on a pit stop or a mechanical failure or setup mistake.  Whatever it is, we can’t afford to make them because of where we are in the points.  Where we are in the points is because we’ve had too many mistakes throughout this year.  But if I look at the way we can recover from this, my team is strong enough to do that.  My team is super-strong.  They are definitely a championship-winning team and we’re growing every day and I’m proud of that.  So there’s no reason why I feel like we can’t do it.  Yes, we’ve had some mistakes and some growing pains in the beginning of the year, but the most important thing is that we learn from it and we’re getting better from that.  You make a mistake once, that’s not a big deal.  You make one twice, then you’ve got to look back at it and say, ‘OK, what are we doing here?’  That’s when you’ve got to figure stuff out, but as long as we learn from it and keep getting better, I’m not in panic mode at all right now on trying to make it.”

HOW COMFORTABLE ARE YOU AS A LEADER NOW WITH YOUR NEW TEAM AS COMPARED TO A COUPLE YEARS AGO?  “Way better and I’m having fun with it.  It’s a good time to get to know these guys and figure out how as a driver and as a leader you can make your team stronger.  The cool part is I look at Todd Gordon, my crew chief, and he’s got the same mentality as me, and I feel like we’re very similar in a lot of ways, which works out good for us.  I feel like our strengths and weaknesses are fairly similar and we’re able to work on those together, and we’re very open about what those are.  We’re not trying to put on a show for anybody.  If there’s a weak point, I let him know what my weak points are and he lets me know what his are, and we try together as a team to improve on those, and I think you see the results throughout the year.”

DO YOU FEEL YOUR CHEMISTRY WITH TODD MAKES FOR A GREAT MATCH?  “Yeah, I think it’s working well together.  There’s a lot of communication there and whether we’re at the shop or here, like I said, we’re not hiding anything from each other and that’s important to have.  I look at even the three weeks of adversity we had to fight with having the penalties and not having Todd there, he was involved as much as he possibly could be and I felt like that built our team even stronger.  We use that to our advantage and really raise everybody’s game throughout the whole team a little bit, and now that we’ve got him back, we can be even stronger.  It’s been an important thing for us.  We’ve been getting better and, like I said, whatever we do we’ve got to do our best at it and be able to keep getting better, and using every situation – even if it looks like it’s something that’s not going our way – to our advantage somehow.”

IS RUNNING NATIONWIDE A FUN THING FOR YOU TO?  “I do enjoy running Nationwide races, to be honest with you.  Does this race, going to Iowa, make perfect sense to run?  No, it doesn’t (laughing).  I’m not gonna lie about that, but it was either Brad or me to drive this thing.  We’re gonna run into the same situation in the second Iowa race on how we’re gonna do this, so I told them I would do the first one and then we’ll go from there.  We would put Ryan Blaney in it if that was a possibility, but he’s off racing his truck, so we can’t do that.  The next-best thing is to take one of us from Pocono to go run that race and to give those guys the best shot they can to win.  Penske as a team, we want to win races any way we can and give ourselves the best shot, no matter what it is, so I feel like this is the best opportunity we’ve got to go up there and win races as a team and that 22 team and we’ll go have some fun and hopefully bring home a trophy.”

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED — IF IOWA EVER GOT A CUP RACE WOULD THE NATIONWIDE LAPS YOU RUN BE HELPFUL?  “They would, yeah.  Any extra laps there would help.  I haven’t been to Iowa in years and it looks like it’s a lot bumpier than what it used to be.  I actually ran the first race ever there in Iowa in a Hooters Pro Cup car and I led the first lap, so I thought that was cool, but then I blew up and that wasn’t as cool.  I haven’t been there in probably five or six years at least, so practice will be important to get there and if there ever is a Cup race there, it will be important to have some laps around that joint and I’m pretty sure they packed up the stands pretty good there from what I hear.  They have some really good fans up there in Iowa, so it will be fun to race out in front of them.”

A WILD CARD SPOT SEEMS TO BE THE BEST WAY FOR YOU TO MAKE THE CHASE. CAN YOU SIZE IT UP NOW AS FAR AS DRIVERS YOU THINK MAY OR MAY NOT BE THREATS?  “I don’t think we can not look at anybody.  I think we have to look at every one as a threat to do it, but I think the main thing is we have to focus on ourselves and not on what everyone else is doing.  Yes, we need to win, but I don’t feel like that’s our best chance yet.  I do feel like we can have some solid finishes and work our way up into the top 10 in points.  I really truly honestly feel like we can do that.  Obviously, a win would help that a ton to get for our wild card stuff, but I don’t feel like making it by points is out by no means at all, so, yes, we’ve got to look at everyone as a threat, but we can’t focus on that.  We’ve got to focus on ourselves being a threat and how we’re gonna get the best out of every race we can.”

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