Ford Performance NASCAR: Logano and Keselowski Appear at Chase Media Day

Ford Performance NSCS Notes and Quotes
Contender Chase Media Day – NASCAR Hall of Fame
Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski both participated in Chase Media Day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame as the Contender Round in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  Following are transcripts from their respective Q&A sessions with members of the print media.

JOEY LOGANO – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion – IS THE CHASE FUN OR TOO STRESSFUL?  “It’s fun at the end (laughing).  It’s pretty stressful during it, but I think the most you can just try to relax and enjoy the moment.  It is a privilege to be in the Chase and be racing for a championship still, so you have to enjoy that moment for sure, but, at the same time, there’s a lot on the line so you obviously have a lot to think about.  You can overthink things and overanalyze things and put yourself in a bad spot from doing that, and really a lot of times it’s good to just get a little bit of rest and take a little bit of time off to recharge your batteries.  Depending on what type of person you are, if you need to be pushed, then maybe the Chase is good for you.  But if you’re someone that really thinks about things and overthinks things, you might find a different approach that works for you and what makes you best on race day.”

American Muscle

DO YOU GET STRESSED DURING THE WEEK?  “Not too bad.  Obviously, I think about what we have to do for each race going into the weekend and what we have to accomplish and how we want to approach the race, and obviously throughout the weekend on how fast our car is and what we have to work on.  That’s typical throughout the whole season.  You think about that stuff, but it’s just more to lose.  We’ve raced since Daytona with nothing to lose, and now there is a lot more on the line.  But that’s part of racing and part of sports and that’s what makes champions is when those people can rise to the occasion.”

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO WIN SATURDAY AND GET THAT AUTOMATIC BERTH TO THE NEXT ROUND?  “It’s huge.  This round is probably one of the most important rounds even with Talladega involved.  There’s no telling what’s gonna happen there, so when you look at Charlotte and Kansas – the first two races of this round – they’re super-important.  If you can win, you’re gonna be sleeping a lot better at night because you feel a lot better about getting through Talladega.  Even if you get two top-5s in these next two races, I don’t know how comfortable you feel even then going into Talladega and what is gonna happen there because there are just so many unknowns.  You can be running fifth one lap and 20th the next lap in Talladega, or you can be running up front and the next thing you know you’re crashed.  There are just so many unknowns.  The likelihood of crashing there is so high.  We’ve seen some upsets last year in this round of certain cars getting knocked out of the Chase that we thought would be racing forward in the final four, so it’s just kind of hard to sleep well unless you win one of these next two races.”

HOW HARD IS IT TO MANAGE HOW MUCH RISK YOU TAKE IN THESE TWO RACES? “You don’t win at all costs.  You don’t do that because you’ve got to go out there and be as consistent as you can.  That’s always the goal is to get the best finish you possibly can.  We’re not throwing Hail Mary’s yet.  You don’t have to go out there and go for checkers or wreckers at this point.  Now, there may be a point where we have to do that and we’ve seen cars that have had to do it.  Kevin had to do it this week and was able to do it, but you’ve got to put all the high risk parts on your car.  You’ve got to put on the high risk strategy and how hard you’re gonna drive the car.  All of that really comes into play as the Chase goes, depending on if you’re in those do-or-die situations.”

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO WIN CHARLOTTE?  “Charlotte is important and I think all of us feel the same way about Charlotte and getting through this round and needing to really set yourself up with a good finish here.  But Kansas, to me, I feel really comfortable about.  I like Kansas as a race track.  It’s been a really good race track for us as a race team.  We won there last year in the Chase and had a very fast car there in the spring that was capable of winning, but I screwed up every chance I possibly could.  We’ll forget about that part, but we had a fast car.  We’re gonna remember that part.  That part was good, so I feel good going into that race track.  Charlotte is one of those race tracks that hasn’t been the best for our team in the last two or three years, but it hasn’t been a bad track for us either.  We’ve been consistently in the top 10.  We need to be better than that for sure.  I look at this weekend, ‘Hey, if we can win the race, great.’  Winning at Charlotte is special all the time because it’s home and you want everyone to be there, your race team is there and your family and friends are there, so you know that and how important it is to win at this race, but the fact it makes you feel better about Talladega is one of the biggest parts of that whole thing.  But I don’t look at Kansas for us as a high-risk race track that you don’t know what’s gonna happen.  Yes, you’re on a very hard tire and when you’re in traffic there’s not much grip.  You’re in dirty air on a hard tire and there’s not much mechanical grip, so it seems like there’s a lot of crashes on restarts and cars just seem to spin out.  But the track has gotten wider here lately as well.  It used to be just bury to the bottom and everyone was down there, but lately cars have been able to move up the race track and run even the high lane and make good speed there.  When you have more room like that, it takes some of that danger factor away, and then obviously Talladega that’s what we’re all trying to get to and be able to set ourselves up good for that because that’s just a crapshoot.”

DOES ANYONE HAVE ANYTHING FOR THE 4 RIGHT NOW?  “Yeah, of course.  If I felt different, I should just go home right now and stop talking to you.  Of course I do.  I feel like my team is where we need to be.  We’re not far off.  We’re really close.  We’ve been consistent all year.  You look at the 4 team.  They’ve got three wins and we’ve got three wins.  Look at top-5s and we’re right there with them.  We’re in the ballpark.  Are they a fast team?  Yes.  Are they consistently fast every week?  Yes.”

DOES IT LOOK TO YOU LIKE THEY KICKED IT IN A HIGHER GEAR?  “They had to.  They had to go to the last two races with everything they’ve got.  If they had motors that bring an extra 10 horsepower that has a higher chance of breaking though, or if it’s a part on their car that’s maybe not race proven yet, but they have to run it to find as much speed in the car as they can.  They were throwing Hail Mary’s and they had to, and it paid off for them, but it’s all about risk vs. reward when you look at racing and really life in general.  You’ve got to look at your situation every week and go, “Alright, what are we willing to put out there for risk to try to get the reward or race win later on that day?’”

IS THERE A DIFFERENT MENTALITY?  “He had to have a different mentality.  He didn’t have an option.  There were other cars out there, like for us, we didn’t have to go out there and win the race.  We just needed a solid day and we had a solid day.  You don’t put stuff on your car that’s high-risk and give you a chance of blowing up or something and finishing 40th, and then the next thing you know you’re sitting there like, ‘Uh oh, we’re out of the Chase now.’  So you’ve just got to be smart about it.  You’ve got to make the right decisions before you get to the race track as much as when you’re on the race track and during the race.”

HOW MUCH DIFFERENT IS THE CHASE THIS YEAR?  “It’s not much different so far.  We didn’t get that win in Loudon that we wanted, so that’s one different part, but we’ve still been able to be consistent like we’ve been throughout the whole season.  We’re still scoring a lot of points throughout this Chase.  I think we’re second if you add all the points up from the first round, so it shows we’ve still got speed and still close on our average finish and what we need to be.  Honestly, it’s not gonna get easier throughout the Chase, but right now everything is going as planned.  We’re not changing the plan until we need to.”

HOW DO YOU VIEW THIS STRETCH A YEAR AGO VERSUS YOUR RACES THERE EARLIER THIS SEASON?  “I think when you prepare for a race you look at both.  You look at the spring races of these races that we’re going to track temperature is way higher, tracks act a lot different.  Charlotte is one of the most sensitive race tracks when it comes to track temperature.  There are some areas there that are just gonna be different, so you’ve got to maybe look at last year’s notes, along with the spring race notes on that race track.  Kansas, I look at one of our best race tracks we go to all year long – maybe our best race track – so I’m very confident going into that race track.  Talladega, I feel good because we won the Daytona 500 this year, so that brings some confidence to our team as far as speedway racing, but how do you feel very confident about any speedway?  There are so many unknowns.  All you can do is control what you can control, and not worry about other things that can happen at that race.”

AS A COMPETITOR WHAT’S IT LIKE HAVING A BIG PLAYER LIKE JIMMIE JOHNSON OUT ALREADY?  “That’s what this whole thing is all about.  The number one goal is keeping yourself in, and if you can get some of these big players out in an early round does that make your life a little easier?  I guess so.  But when you get to Homestead you’re not gonna have any weak players, I can tell you that much either way.  You still have to do the same things to get yourself there, so it doesn’t affect the way I think or what I’m doing, and I don’t think it affects our team in what we do.  It’s interesting to see how that all plays out, but it doesn’t change the way you approach the race or do anything because everyone is in the Chase for a reason.  If they got through a round, they’re in the next round for a reason.  Maybe there are bigger names with better stats for the season, but we’re all back to zero right now so everyone’s stats are the same if you ask me.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – HOW IS AUSTIN THERIAULT?  “I haven’t seen him, but I spoke to him and I know he’s going through all those stages with the protocol you have to go through for NASCAR.  Until that’s done, I think it would be a little premature for me to say anything as to how he’s doing, but he seemed to be in good spirits when I talked to him, so that’s a good start and hopefully he’ll get through it all very quickly and be ready to go for Talladega, which is his next race for the Truck Series.  That’s pretty much all I can say right now.”

DO YOU JUST CRINGE WHEN YOU SEE SOMEONE HIT AN UNPROTECTED WALL?  “I cringe, but then I get back in the race car and say, ‘What are my options?’  As a team owner I have no ability to affect change on the tracks, and as a driver I’m consistently told how lucky I am to have a spot as a race car driver and I need to shut up and drive the car.  So there are no options available for me to remedy the situation, so I move on to things I can affect change on.”

ISN’T THAT WHAT THE DRIVER’S COUNCIL IS SUPPOSED TO DO?  “I think we’ve already been there.  I don’t think there’s any member that doesn’t understand that we feel that way.”

IS THIS A STRESSFUL TIME OF YEAR OR IS IT FUN?  “I’m pretty consistent with when I’m having fun is when my cars are fast, whether there’s a Chase or not.  We were not fast at Dover and that was not fun.  We’ve had a lot of weeks where we have been fast.  The week before at Loudon we were and that was fun.  I guess maybe I’m oversimplifying the sport in that sense, but being fast and being in contention to win races, to me, is fun.”

WHERE IS TEAM PENSKE COMPARED TO JGR AND STEWART-HAAS?  “I think the Chase is, for lack of a better word, so dynamic that it’s not fair to really rank teams because the cars are constantly being developed and then, of course, we’re going to different tracks.  Certainly a lot of them are mile-and-a-halves, so maybe you can kind of group them together, but even in that instance I would say Homestead and those tracks are so much different.  They’re mile-and-a-halves, yes, but they’re not all that similar.  Homestead and Charlotte I think we could all say are a lot different than each other, but some of the things still carry over.  Speed in your car tends to carry over, but it’s so fluid you could make a development at any time and get better.  If I was to evaluate, I could only evaluate off of last week or the week before.  Basically based off history, not really forecasting, and I think in that instance we weren’t where we wanted to be at Dover, but at Loudon we were and we’re gonna need to find more speed to be able to win the championship, but I would go out on a limb and say that every driver would probably tell you that.”

ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT YOUR CHANCES AT CHARLOTTE?  “Yeah, I’m really optimistic about it.  I felt like the last few tracks of a similar nature we’ve run really, really competitively at – it’s not a guarantee that we’re gonna run well this time, but I feel like we’ve got a strong shot at it.”

ARE YOU LOOKING AT THE 4 LIKE YOU USED TO LOOK AT THE 48?  “Again, maybe I over-simplify this sport, but the most basic understanding of this sport that I have is the root of it is how good your cars are.  From there, a lot of things come together and if there’s a passing of the torch per se it would be that the 4 car is consistently the fastest car.  In a lot of years prior, especially the years where Jimmie was winning the championship, he was the fastest car.  If I look at that and kind of dig deeper from there, I would say that just having the fastest car is no guarantee of success, but it’s a damn good place to start.  So in that light I would make some comparisons, but probably in no other way.”

IS THIS SPORT NOW TOO MUCH CAR AND NOT ENOUGH DRIVER?  “This sport has always been car first and driver second.  I wouldn’t let anyone tell you any different – at the Sprint Cup level at least.  The drivers are all fairly skilled and talented and pretty close to each other and the car, to me, has always been more often than not a bigger difference-maker than the driver.  I think if you look at the way the budgets are allocated that’s always, to me, your clearest indicator of what’s more important.  From that perspective, the teams spend a lot more on the cars than they do the drivers – not that the drivers don’t make a lot of money, but there’s good reason for it.

LAST NIGHT YOUR TEAM LOST AT THE END OF THE GAME ON A NON-CALL OR THEY DIDN’T DO ENOUGH IN THE FIRST 58 MINUTES TO PUT THEMSELVES IN A BETTER POSITION.  DO YOU WORRY ABOUT SOMETHING LIKE THAT HAPPENING TO YOU?  “Maybe it’s both.  That would be my answer.  You try to affect the things you can affect and when it comes to officiating in any sport it is what it is and you have to get over that and make sure you put yourself in a position where officiating doesn’t matter and that’s all you can do.”

DID YOU RESPOND ON TWITTER AFTER AUSTIN’S ACCIDENT?  “Yeah, it’s the same response.  It feels like a re-run.  I can’t believe there wasn’t a SAFER barrier there.  You probably didn’t notice it because it probably felt like a re-run.”


WHY?  “Because of the way the tech process works.”

CAN YOU EXPLAIN?  “The cars aren’t teched the same way at the track as they can be teched at the R&D Center.  It’s been going on for a long time.  I’m not making any accusations.  If you look back even 10-15 years ago when they put that funky thing on the roof of the car.  It’s not anything new to this sport.”

WHAT’S THE MOST YOU’VE DONE?  “I’ve definitely blown tires out.  I think every driver has done something to do some kind of damage to their car.”

DO YOU THINK DIFFERENTLY THIS ROUND WITH TALLADEGA THE LAST RACE?  YOU WANT TO DO WELL AT CHARLOTTE AND KANSAS.  “I think you look at the way the Chase falls together and, again, I feel like a worn out record, but you try to control what you can control.  At none of the tracks that we go to can you completely control your destiny, but you certainly can make a bigger difference at Kansas and Charlotte than you can at Talladega.  So from that standpoint that puts a lot of emphasis on those two races and I think that’s reflected upon the field.”

WE HAVEN’T SEEN THE OFF-TRACK INCIDENTS SO FAR THIS YEAR IN THE CHASE LIKE WE DID LAST YEAR.  IS THAT COMING?  IS THE EMOTION DIFFERENT?  “I’m only one sample of a pretty big field, so it’s not fair for me to speak for everyone else, but I don’t feel any differently this year than I did last year as far as intensity or what-not.”

ALL THE HIGHLIGHTS HAVE BEEN OF CHARLOTTE LAST YEAR WITH YOU AND MATT AFTER THE RACE.  WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?  “I think it’s ridiculous, but they don’t pay me to promote the sport.  They make their own decisions.”

DOES IT MAKE YOU THINK BACK TO THAT MOMENT AT ALL?  “No, it makes me think back to great moments like Dale Earnhardt passing in the grass and think, ‘We need moments like that.’  That should be what our sport is about, not a bunch of junk going on post-race.”

DO YOU EVER THINK ABOUT THAT STUFF LAST YEAR?  “No, not really.  I haven’t reflected on it at all.  It doesn’t feel like it’s worth the time or energy to me.  It’s not just the incidents where I’m involved, I think the incidents that anyone is involved in I feel like it takes away from a lot of the great storylines the sport has to tell and goes to an audience that can’t appreciate some of the great things about our sport.”

IF THE 4 IS THE FASTEST RIGHT NOW.  WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE NEXT SEVEN RACES?  “They have a lot of speed.  I would say from a speed perspective – again we’re going off of history and that’s all we can kind of predict from, but if they’re as fast as they were at Dover at other races, then, yeah, it looks that way.”

HOW IS IT SOMETIMES YOU CAN WIN A RACE WHEN YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO, AND YOU CAN’T DO IT AT OTHER TIMES OF THE YEAR?  “It doesn’t add up, does it.  It doesn’t to me, either.  I don’t know.  I don’t have a great answer for it.”

AT TALLADEGA YOU TOOK MORE CHANCES AND MORE RISKS.  CAN YOU QUANTIFY HOW YOU DID AND HOW FAR YOU WENT OVER THE LINE?  “Certainly it was a bit of a lucky day.  I can’t answer for other drivers when they have those key wins, but I can answer for myself on that particular day and say I caught some breaks, and then I forced some things to happen.  A lot of times in racing, and I think this is really key, most champions don’t force it to happen because your odds of being successful in this sport when you force things they’re pretty high that you’ll be successful in the short-term, and extremely low that you’ll be successful in the long-term.  And I think from that instance that’s what you see.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE PAID FOR YOUR ACTIONS AT TALLADEGA IN THE YEAR SINCE?  “No, not really.  I had a conversation with Ryan Newman about it about this time last year.  Ryan was in based on points if he just had a solid day at Talladega.  He didn’t need to win the race, so when I put a huge block on him at the end of the race, that certainly entered his mind.  I think he would at least acknowledge to me that he would rather not have wrecked at that point.  I put him in a situation where basically both of us were gonna wreck if he didn’t lift, so those are the situations you put yourself in when you’re desperate, but that’s Talladega.”

THAT’S WHAT ATHLETE’S DO, THOUGH.  TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SITUATIONS.  “Sure.  Then you have situations like what happened with Jeff and I at Texas, where I felt like I put him in that same exact spot and he didn’t go the same way Ryan did.”

IS THE CHASE A CRAPSHOOT?  HOW DO YOU VIEW IT?  “I guess I view it as there are so many things happening at once that it’s almost overwhelming to try to generate a picture.  Whether it’s what happened to Jimmie or a guy like Kevin winning a race, there is almost too much going on, to me at least, to make any sense of what’s actually happening and that makes you feel at times like it’s a bit of a roulette wheel, so I can kind of relate to that.”

DOES THIS FORMAT MEAN WE’LL NEVER SEE A JIMMIE-TYPE RUN AGAIN WITH CHAMPIONSHIPS?  “Yeah, I’m pretty confident you won’t see that again – not with this format.  There’s a lot more opportunity for chance and luck to interject themselves.  That’s not to take away from whoever does win the championship because more often than not they’ve had to do something very special, but your odds of being able to dominate in that sense are a lot lower.”

HOW DO YOU MEASURE GREATNESS THEN?  “It’s not.  That’s why we’ve changed formats three times over the last decade because people don’t care about greatness they care about being entertained.  You’re seeing format changes that are a reflection of those demands.”

THOUGHTS ON GREEN-WHITE-CHECKER FINISHES AS PART OF ENTERTAINMENT.  ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THAT?  “I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  We go there and say we’re gonna run 500 miles and you run 500 miles and it ends under yellow it kind of feels a little uncomfortable.  You give another crack at it and see if you can’t finish it off for the fans and if it doesn’t come together, well, we tried. I would feel pretty good about that if I was a fan, and as a team owner I would feel pretty good about that too.”

WHY SHOULD YOU DO THAT WHEN YOU HAD 495 MILES OF RACING BEFORE THAT?  “But I feel like one crack at it kind of feels like if you’ve ever been to a concert and the guy gets up there and does an encore.  It kind of feels like that.  It’s like a showing of appreciation and respect toward their fans, but I think one gesture towards it is good.”

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