Ford Performance NASCAR: Logano, Newman and Suarez Watkins Glen Breakout Sessions

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Saturday, August 3, 2019

EVENT: Go Bowling at The Glen, Watkins Glen, NY. (Media Availabilities)

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 MoneyLion Ford Mustang – WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO WELL HERE? “A little bit of everything. You’ve got to have a well-balanced car. You have to have a car that’s durable, more than anything, something that you can beat up on and has the capabilities of staying in one piece. You’ve got to have a good braking system here, that’s probably one of the most important things. You have some braking zones that you’re going very fast and you’re slowing down quite a bit, so that’s tough on them. Having a braking system that lasts is probably key. We’re definitely carrying speed around this place with the higher downforce and all. Your marks from where you were last year, you just drive in the corners harder and you can just do more, so hustling it pays a bigger reward right now.”

American Muscle

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO THE MOST COMING TO THIS TRACK? “Winning. That’s really it. I enjoy coming up here. It’s nice. There’s a great ice cream place down at the bottom of the hill, but I’d much rather win.”

THOUGHTS ON MICHIGAN NEXT WEEK AFTER YOU WON IN JUNE? “There’s not much time between each race there, which is always kind of interesting when you go back, but the races do seem to act a little different when you go back there the second time. Some of that rubber we laid down from the first time is still there. Whether or not they add some traction compound to the outside lane will change the race dramatically, so depending on how all that goes will definitely be interesting. I’m sure everybody, that was the first time we went there with this rules package and now we’re going back there the second time. When you go there the first time there’s a lot of questions. Do we go this direction? Do we want downforce? Do we want drag out? That’s the decision all these teams have to make, and after you race there once it becomes a little bit more clear on the direction a lot of teams want to go, so I’m sure it will be kind of interesting for me to see, at least the cars that weren’t competitive the first time if they’ve become more competitive from going a different direction.”

YOU DON’T SEE ROAD COURSE RINGERS ANYMORE. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS? “I think there are a few things that go to that. One, it’s hard for anybody these days to jump into a car and a team that you don’t work with every week and try to communicate to them what you need, and for the team to understand what that means. I think the other part that’s challenging is that you’re not racing that type of car every week. You’re not comfortable in the car, you’re taking laps to figure that stuff out. A lot of drivers have raced here a lot now at this point. It’s not like it’s the first time we’ve come here. A lot of drivers have the capability to go to their manufacturers’ simulation tool and use that, which makes them better. So I think when you put all that together, I think the transmissions are much better than they used to be. The old school road racers heel-toeing and all that used to give them the advantage because they were just smoother at it and understood how to do it better. Now, you don’t have to. Transmissions are better. You don’t have to use a clutch at all, so I think those things have taken their advantage away, to where they really can’t compete with the regulars at this point. I’m not trying to be rude, I’m just being blunt that it’s too hard for them to jump in and just be successful after not racing these things every week.”

DENNY TALKED ABOUT HAVING TRACTION COMPOUND AT ISM RACEWAY. HOW MUCH OF A CHANGE WOULD THAT BE? “Yeah, I think that one would be a good idea. That’s a pretty tough track to pass. There are discussions about probably every track at this point on what to do because I think it’s pretty clear that it’s helped the racing at certain race tracks. It’s not just applying it, it’s how you apply it. NASCAR and Jerry in particular has done a great job reaching out to a lot of drivers and asking and sending pictures about ‘what do you think about this or should we put it here? How thick should we put it?’ Those type of questions because there are only 40 people that know. There are only 40 drivers that really know what it needs, so I think they’ve done a good job reaching out and asking us the questions and I think Pocono was better. I think Kentucky was a better race because of it, and I think out in Phoenix would be a great idea to try to improve the racing out there.”

PHOENIX IS THE NEXT-TO-LAST RACE. SHOULD THEY WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR OR TRY IT RIGHT AWAY? “Do it. There can obviously be negatives, but I don’t really see where it would be worse. I would say you go for it. The longer we wait to learn, the dumber we are.”

HOW DO YOU LOOK AT QUALIFYING TODAY? WILL ANYONE WAIT UNTIL THE END? “There’s plenty of time. Twenty-five minutes to make a lap or two, so there’s plenty of time to get out there and get a clean lap for sure.”

HOW DO YOU VIEW QUALIFYING? “It’s intense. You’re pushing yourself so hard trying to lay down the perfect lap because that’s what it’s gonna take. You know what you have to do in turn one and then you think about turn two and what you have to do there, and then you’ve got the bus stop and you’ve got a lot of time to think about the bus stop going down that straightaway, and how far can I drive in the corner, how much speed can I get in there, but you don’t want to overrun it and get loose in the center of it or get tight in the center of the bus stop. There are just so many things going on that you’re just trying to push harder than you have all day, harder than — you know you can make a clean lap consistently, you’re just pushing yourself to that edge. That’s the best part about qualifying every week is you know where you’re comfortable and you go past it.”

HOW MUCH IS THE TEAM LOOKING AT THE PLAYOFFS? “You’re thinking about the Playoffs, obviously. You have to, you have to set your team up to be strongest when the Playoffs start. With that being said, we’re still in quite the battle trying to win this regular season championship, which is 15 Playoff points. We’re still thinking about the Playoffs, but we have to think about right now because that bonus is pretty significant and we have to try and get that. So at this point we’re still trying to collect as many points as possible. We’re trying to win as many races as possible because the way NASCAR has set up the system you have to be good all the time. You can’t just, like we used to, win a race and say ‘we’re in’ and focus on the Playoffs and that’s it. Now, each race really can affect your Playoff run if you’re able to collect some points throughout those races.”

IS THERE ANYWHERE KYLE BUSCH IS VULNERABLE THE NEXT FIVE RACES? “Of course. Everyone has weaknesses. It’s my job to find them, and for me not to have any. It’s close. It’s quite the battle, so each week it’s been kind of crazy. We get done and it’s like ‘gained two points,’ ‘lost a couple points,’ ‘gained four,’ ‘lost three.’ The last 15 weeks or so has just been back-and-forth, back-and-forth. Last week we doubled our points lead, it went from three to six. It’s a tight battle. It’s definitely a scratching and clawing type of thing.”

HOW WAS PRACTICE? “It’s OK. We had a little bit more speed in our car. I thought we unloaded fairly close on speed, we just didn’t make any improvements to our car, but we learned a lot. Sometimes going the wrong way you’re also collecting data and figuring out what direction to go, so we’ll make some pretty decent changes here between practices to try and make some particular parts of the track better, which I believe we can, and then try to lay down some big laps after that.”

WE THOUGHT SPEEDS WOULD BE FASTER THAN WHAT THEY ARE THIS YEAR WHAT ABOUT YOU? “Yeah, I was surprised too. When we went to our simulator it wasn’t much faster, but you’ve got a lot of drag. You’ve got to remember that. We all talk about the downforce, but that blade also slows you down the straightaway quite a bit, so you carry more speed through the esses and the first part of that back straightaway piece, but after that you’re going slower. Maybe you can brake into the corner a little deeper, but you’re not going as fast when you get there, so of course you can drive into the corner deeper. The carousel is quicker, but once again you go down that other straightaway, the one that goes into 10, that one we’re not going as fast, so I think those things you lose a lot of the speed gained because of the longer straightaways here. I’ve seen that in XFINITY races quite a bit, where that draft comes into play the more wide-open time you have, which is quite a bit more wide-open time with the XFINITY car, that the leader doesn’t have as big of an advantage because the trailing car always drafts up and that’s what has made those races a lot of fun to be a part of and watch.”

DOES THIS TIGHT POINTS RACE FOR THE REGULAR SEASON TITLE PREPARE YOU FOR THE PLAYOFFS? “I think we’re kind of used to it and prepared for it at this point. You’re gonna have a tight battle throughout it. I will say that it’s less stressful than the poor guys trying to get into the Playoffs right now. That’s not a fun place. I’ve been there and you don’t want to be there. They’re gonna be exhausted when the Playoffs start after the battle that they’ve been going through, so, yes, we want to get the 15 points and win the regular season part of it, but we won the championship last year with hardly any Playoff points. It doesn’t make-it or break-it for you, but it definitely gives you a nice cushion.”

RYAN NEWMAN, No. 6 Acronis Ford Mustang – “We’re just working on trying to get the balance and the grip right in our Acronis Ford. We’re really just off mostly from being loose, but mostly in the exit of the carousel and turn 11, just not being able to push the race car. You’ve got to be able to push the car and be aggressive with the shifter handle here at the same time with the brakes, but I feel like our braking is fairly good, just need to get the car better.”

HOW DO YOU LOOK AT QUALIFYING? “We just need to get the car better in practice and then figure out where we’re gonna stack up. Usually qualifying here is pretty cut-and-dry as far as who is fast and who’s not and who gets a good lap. The real answer is how is it going to race and how is it going to be over multiple laps. It seems there are guys that can bust off some really quick laps, but I don’t know how well they can hang onto it, so we’ll see.”

WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE DRIVER ON THE BUBBLE FOR THE PLAYOFFS VERSUS SOMEONE LOCKED IN? “I don’t think it matters because the guys that are locked in better be thinking like they’re on the bubble because in six races they’re gonna be on the bubble again. The reality of it is just go out there and race your race.”

WHO ORIGINALLY HELPED YOU TO ROAD RACE? “My very first NASCAR experience, I guess you could say, was with Scott Pruett, but I did a bunch of testing with a guy named Ben Burrell, who is no longer with us, at Kershaw – Carolina Motorsports Park. I spent a lot of laps there, both in a Cup car and first and foremost in a two-seat late model basically, just burning tires off and teaching me how to approach the corner and run the shifter handle and all that. He taught me first, but my first at-track test was with Scott Pruett at Sonoma. We did a few laps and he did a few laps and I was I think a tenth or a tenth-and-a-half quicker than he was and he looked at my crew chief – Borland at the time – and said, ‘Just go. Just keep working on it. He’s fine.’”

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BRING A NEW SPONSOR INTO THE SPORT? “We’re excited to have Acronis, the worldwide leader in cyber security, a big technology company which is obviously a big part of the world today and I’m just proud to represent them. They’re coming out here with a bang with two primary sponsors with us and Stenhouse and look forward to representing them a few more times this year and in the future.”

HOW DO YOU APPROACH MICHIGAN THIS TIME AROUND? “The most downforce you can get and the least amount of drag you can get and then figure the rest of it out from there. Realistically, there’s a lot of emphasis on that – a lot of money is getting spent, a lot of time is getting spent. It’s the first time in my career in racing stock cars that we’ve taken a car that made less downforce to the race track to be more competitive. It just tells you how much downforce the cars have on them and it’s all not necessary. You’re just spending a bunch of money for no good reason.”

WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE TO HAVE SUCH A LOSS OF HORSEPOWER AT A PLACE LIKE MICHIGAN? “It’s hard to say that because you see horsepower as under hood horsepower and the real reality of it is it’s a combination of horsepower and drag and under the hood horsepower and what we have under the hood is what it was 20 years ago and call it 550. It’s no different than what it was 20 years ago, but the cars are entirely different making way more drag. I don’t know the numbers compared to 20 years ago, but the response time from an engine horsepower versus aerodynamic drag is totally different, so the way the cars recover are a lot different and makes racing a lot different. I still say I’m not a big fan or a fan at all of the high drag, high downforce and low horsepower package. I just feel like, and we were talking about it in the truck today to give you perspective, the best road course race we ever saw, in my opinion at Watkins Glen, is when there was oil on the race track. So there was negative PJ1 and there were guys running through the grass because it stuck better than the race track did. To me, that’s what we need to be thinking about.”

WE DON’T SEE RINGERS ANYMORE. IS THAT DUE TO THE SKILL OF THE CUP GUYS HAS INCREASED? “I think it was always there. I think those guys could come in and make a few bucks and have a shot at a win. We saw them win at times, but in general it was the combination of Stewart and Gordon and a few others, and even back in the day it was Ricky Rudd and Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt. And then when Fellows and Pruett and a few others, Boris, came in they ran well, but they weren’t always the guys to beat.”

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE HERE? “Just being fast. Everything changes. The cars, the braking points have changed today compared to where I’ve been used to for the last 19 years, so realistically just getting used to that because of the drag, because of the difference in braking capabilities of the cars now. You have to evolve with the changes over time and that was what first practice was for me today. The kids that don’t have any knowledge just go out there and run it hard. They might run the simulator and whatever else, but I feel like my real-life simulation over the last years is going to pay more dividends in the end.”

ANY TRACK IN THE LAST FIVE WHERE YOU THINK YOU CAN WIN? “All of them and we’re still a high-dollar team. I think we have a chance at all of them. This weekend hasn’t started off strong, but that doesn’t mean we’re not gonna be there in the end. I think we surprised a lot of people in Sonoma when we finished seventh.”

DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang – DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN HERE TOMORROW? “I feel like anything can happen. I don’t feel like we’re exactly where we need to be yet. We are making a lot of adjustments for second practice, hopefully we can move in the right direction. I’m not very happy with my race car right now, so we’re throwing a lot of things at it. Hopefully, it reacts in the right way and see what we’ve got.”

ON A SCALE OF 1-10 HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR ROAD COURSE RACING COMPARED TO THE FIELD? “That’s a good question. I like it a lot. I feel like if you put a go-kart on myself I would tell you that I’m the best by far, but in stock cars it’s a whole different game. My road course experience is in go-karts and I know I’m very good in that, and I feel like I’ve been getting better and better in these heavy cars in road course racing. I feel like we’re competitive and we can win races. Every time we come to a road course it’s not a surprise to me that we’re running top five or top 10, but we haven’t been able to get close enough to win races, so there is one more step for me to get in road course racing and hopefully we can get it done this weekend.”

DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN STILL MAKE THE PLAYOFFS? “Yeah. We’re still good. There are still five more races to go. We have made a lot of bad decisions and bad luck and mistakes in the last few weeks, but we’re still in good shape.”

IS THERE PRESSURE WITH THAT? “There is always pressure, but that’s part of racing – not just for the Playoffs but every week just to perform well. I feel like we need to keep doing our thing. We have fast race cars and actually our race cars are getting better and better. Our race cars are faster today than they were a couple months ago, so I feel more confident about that. We just have to stay calm and do our things.”

MICHIGAN IS NEXT WEEK. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? “We had a good result there earlier this year and it’s always good. If you think about it after that is Bristol and now we’re at Watkins Glen, we have a lot of good races for myself – a lot of good races that I know I can perform well and I can run top five, so I feel good about it. We just have to be calm and do our thing, have fun and hopefully keep bringing fast cars to the race track.”

DO YOU LEAD THE TEAM IN SAYING THAT OR ARE OTHERS ON THE TEAM TALKING TO YOU? “I take it very seriously from the side of bringing my team up and being a leader and just making sure everyone is strong mentally and they know what we need. My job is to give them confidence that we can do this. We are going to be in good shape. The entire year so far we’ve been in different situations where we didn’t have the best race cars at the beginning of the year, but now we are heading into the point where we are getting better and better, so we just have to be smart and try to make the cut and do our thing, and I feel like we can do that. I feel like actually the second half of the year is looking way stronger than the first half.”

DO YOU EXPECT BUBBA TO KEEP FLIPPING YOU OFF? I COULDN’T TELL IF HE WAS PLAYING WITH YOU ON TWITTER OR NOT? “He won’t, I guarantee you that (laughing). We are good friends, but sometimes he drives a little bit over his head on that race track and he’s wrecked a couple times. He’s been a little bit too aggressive to myself for different situations, and I don’t get to race him very often, but when I do he’s a little bit too aggressive, which is OK. I don’t have a problem, but sometimes you can cross the line and you can get mad and things happen.”

DID YOU TALK SERIOUSLY ABOUT IT? “We are good. I was serious about it. Where I came from you can kick someone’s butt for doing that. He said he was playing, but I’m not dumb. I know he wasn’t, but we are buddies. We move on and we focus on the next one.”

WERE YOU MORE MAD AT THE WAY HE RACED YOU? “No, actually the way that he races I know him. That’s the way he does things. I think that sometimes he’s smart and sometimes he’s not, and the way that he did things and then I got even more mad when he said that he was joking when I knew perfectly that he wasn’t. It’s good. It’s in the past. We are good. We are friends. We have known each other for a long time. There is always that extra confidence in us. We know that we can fight and be good the next day, but I get fired up pretty quick when it comes to that kind of stuff as you guys can see.”

DOES IT ESCALATE WHEN YOU HAVE SO MUCH ON THE LINE BEING ON THE BUBBLE? “A lot of people think that, ‘hey, Daniel is getting pressure and tempers are getting into his head,’ but that has nothing to do with it. I can be leading the championship and I will get fired up as good as I get fired up right now. That’s me. I’ve been like this since I can remember. That’s just myself. I play hard and I expect people to play hard to me as well, so that’s part of the game and that’s OK.”

IT DOESN’T DISTRACT YOU WHEN THAT HAPPENS? “No, Bubba and I have been friends for several years now and we know each other very well. It’s all good. We can fight several times and we know the next day we can be hanging out again, so it’s all good.”

THAT’S YOUR PASSION. “It’s all good. He’s passionate. I’m passionate. He knows what his race car is capable of and I know what my race car is capable of. I know I don’t get to race him too often, but sometimes – and it’s not me saying this – he’s like that. He drives a little bit crazy sometimes and that’s OK. He has a right to do it. He’s fighting for that spot as well, but sometimes in my opinion he crosses the line.”

SOCIAL MEDIA WAS TALKING ABOUT LAYING HANDS ON HIM. “I was trying to get him fired up, but he didn’t (laughing). It was all good. I guess I was fired up. Like I say, I was disappointed and then when he told me he was joking I got even more upset because I know he wasn’t. But it’s all good. We are friends and that’s racing. The day that something like that happens to me and I just walk to my motorhome I’m gonna be worried because that means I’m not passionate anymore, so that’s part of racing.”

HOW DO YOU CALM DOWN? “Time, just time. It’s not a big deal. It’s not like we are fighting, just having a strong conversation, that’s it.”

DO YOU REEVALUATE THINGS IN YOUR TEAM MEETINGS? “Yeah, we do that, but we do it more in the way that it’s step-by-step, race-by-race. We can’t think right now about Michigan. We can’t think right now about Bristol. We can’t think right now about the off week. We have to think about Watkins Glen and that’s all that matters. We have to take it one by one and try to be smart. I know how to finish races here. I’ve done that before, so we just have to be smart and do our thing.”

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