Ford Performance NASCAR: Joey Logano Charlotte Media Availability

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)
Friday, May 22, 2020
EVENT: Coca-Cola 600 Media Availability

Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang, has two of Ford’s three victories this season – winning at Las Vegas and Phoenix. He was part of a media availability session this morning, where he spoke to reporters about how NASCAR’s return has gone and what fans can expect this weekend for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang – CAN YOU WALK THROUGH DARLINGTON AND YOUR ANTICIPATION OF CHARLOTTE? “First off you think about how different everything was, right? Having no practice, the social distancing, not being able to be with your team much. I’ve gotten very good as it looks like everyone else has at Zoom calls. I just go from one to the other. I’ve been on them all morning already, but we’ve all found new ways to make things work, whether we’re at the race track or at home preparing for the races. I think NASCAR did a great job. I know not everyone was able to be there over the weekend, but I think everything went as smooth as you could possibly hope for for the first two races, so a lot of credit to NASCAR, a lot of credit to the leaders in our sport, whether it’s owners, team principals of any sort, OEMs, everyone worked together to make this happen, so I’m proud to be a part of that group and our races went OK – not as good as we wanted them to. Darlington one we took off a little bit too far off and had some issues that just didn’t go quite the way we wanted it to and ended with a flat tire. And the second race we were able to make some good changes to our car, which you know everybody does and that’s a harder thing to do is when you go back to the second race you know everyone is going to be better. I’d say our net gain compared to our competition was better and we ended up finishing sixth with that and got us some stage points. We’re not where we want to be yet. Circumstances change a little bit. We have another restart, I believe a top five and maybe a top three was sitting in front of us, but that’s the way the rain fell, so we’ll kind of move onto the next one. Overall, still a decent start to the season. We’ve had some ups and downs, but still more ups than downs, so that’s good.”

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HOW MIGHT THINGS CHANGE FOR THE COCA-COLA 600? WHAT MIGHT WE SEE? “The Coke 600 is a crown jewel event. It’s always been that way for us. It’s such a big deal to try to win that one. I’ve come so close, finished second there last year, just want to get that one done so bad, but that race track with this 550 rules package is pretty intense on these restarts. There is gonna be three and four-wide racing. There’s more room at Charlotte than there is at Darlington, so there’s gonna be more aggressive moves that you’ll see. I expect the outside lane still to be the dominant one and that to be something we’ve got to fight through, but I do think that this is gonna be – yes, it’s 600 miles and it’s a long one, but I guarantee those restarts are gonna be super-intense because once you get 15-20 laps into a run, it just gets harder and harder to pass, but for the first 15-20 laps it’s gonna be game on, where we’re gonna be very intense out there pushing and shoving.”

DO YOU FEEL YOU’RE BACK TO WHERE THINGS WERE BEFORE THE DELAY? “It’s all kind of gone back to normal, if you ask me. The protocol part is a little weird, but it is what it is and I’m glad we’re doing it – don’t get me wrong. As far as once you’re strapped in the car and racing nothing is different, nothing at all. The way you communicate to your team, we’re used to being secluded inside of a race car and only communicate through your radio. That’s what we do. That’s our job. Nothing changes from the driver’s standpoint. Now, for the pit crews and the team, yeah, it is. That’s a little bit different, but at least from the driver’s side right now it’s pretty similar.”

THERE WERE A LOT OF EYES ON YOU COMING BACK. DO YOU THINK NASCAR HAS MOMENTUM NOW AND HOW ARE YOU LOOKING AT THE SPORT OVERALL – THAT NASCAR IS BACK? “It’s awesome. One of my favorite lines I’ve heard this whole time is don’t let a good crisis go to waste, and at this point, yes, there is a lot of risk that we are all weighing out and concerns, and there are a lot of people trying to weather this storm whether it’s financially with their job or physically with their health. There are a lot of things up in the air, but there is also a lot of opportunity that sits in front of us as all these businesses are shut down and industries are shut down. For us to find a way to get back to the race track as a sport, as an industry, and get back to work before most was an amazing opportunity that I think NASCAR saw and it was important for everybody on this call for that to happen for all of our livelihoods – every one of us. That’s something, like I said, I’m proud of this sport to be able to do that and do this in the safest way we possibly can. I know I feel plenty safe at the race track. I’ve said it before, I feel safer at the race track than I do at the grocery store and I really do at this point. Yeah, we had a big opportunity in front of us, we took it and it’s paying off right now. I think when you look at the ratings and we’re putting on good races, we’re finding ways to race close to home so we don’t have to worry about the travel. Everyone is kind of throwing all the old stuff out of the way of, ‘Oh, we can’t do this. We can’t do this. We can’t do that,’ and we’ve pretty much thrown that out and said, ‘Whatever it takes.’ That’s the attitude we’ve got and that’s the reason why you see success in our sport right now.”

THE LONGEST RACE IS ON SUNDAY AND DIFFICULT FOR NON-HARD CORE FANS TO STICK WITH. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR THE 600 TO BE A GOOD SHOW? “I’ve always enjoyed the Coke 600 because there’s more racing to watch (laughing). We’re able to give the fans either one. You’re gonna have some shorter races to watch. You’ve got the XFINITY races and I believe the Trucks are running as well, so there are shorter races to watch if you don’t want to watch a long one, but as far as the 600 you can’t shorten that race, you just can’t. It’s the Coke 600. No one calls it the Coke 300 or 400. It’s the Coca-Cola 600 and you cannot change that. It’s a crown jewel event. We must keep it the same and that’s what we’re doing. I was watching the special during the rain delay this weekend about the 600 and the history behind it and all, and it just got me excited to race in that race this weekend. I’m glad we’re keeping it the same. I think fans will enjoy it either way. Like I said, it’s a good race track and it’s gonna be intense out there from lap one. At this point, nobody saves their car and says, ‘Oh, I’ve got to make sure I have brakes on it. It’s 100 percent from lap one. We’re hammer down every lap, so the intensity is there the whole time.”

TWO CUP RACES IN FOUR DAYS. HAVE YOU PHYSICALLY FELT ANY DIFFERENTLY? “I feel OK. I feel fine. I think, for me, I took the opportunity when we had all this time off to keep training and trying to become stronger because I know that this many races on top of each other is a big challenge. At this point I feel OK. We’re only two races in, but I think as we kind of keep going it’s going to take it’s toll on you. If we get in a crash that will kind of be the more challenging piece to recover from because you’re getting right back in, so there’s always gonna be soreness that you’re gonna have to work through, but for the first two race to be normal with no contact it’s been fine. My body feels good. It’ll be harder as we keep going, but right now it is good. I’ve been getting my Planet Fitness workouts in and making it happen.”

AFTER A BREAK LIKE THIS WHERE TEAMS HAVEN’T BEEN IN THE SHOP AND YOU’RE TURNING CARS AROUND QUICKLY. HOW IMPORTANT HAS THE FORD SIMULATOR BEEN TO NOT ONLY HELP TEAMS BUT MAYBE DRIVERS LOG SOME LAPS AND HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE SIMULATOR? “No, I haven’t been to the simulator. It’s not really my thing and if anyone watched these iRacing races, video games are not my deal (laughing). I’m more of a guy to be there in person and work through it. I do believe there are a lot of gains in simulation and the simulation world. I feel like now for me and Paul the conversations we’ve been having to build our cars and be ready is kind of the direction we want to go, not because we don’t feel like we’re being lazy and don’t want to go to it, no, we’re still working. It’s a good tool. It’s a tool that if used the correct way you can learn a few things here and there. If you put too much weight into it, you can totally dial yourself out, so it’s just like any other tool. It’s like anything else we use or do, there are limitations and we need to be aware of what those are. It’s a tool that we use for certain race tracks as we prepare, but, at this point, it’s not one that we’ve used since we’ve gotten through this pandemic.”

THE OUTSIDE GROOVE WAS PREFERRED AT DARLINGTON. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE CHOOSE CONE? “I’ve been bringing it up for years. It’s not news I don’t think to any driver here, every meeting that I’ve had I’ve always brought up ‘Choose Rule. Let’s do it.’ I see nothing bad that it can bring. It’s brings another strategy to the table, it’s definitely something to talk about. You don’t have luck coming involved. You see guys hit their brakes at the end of pit road, number one that’s not real safe, but, two, you try to line yourself up sixth and then the car in front of you gets a speeding penalty and you’re like, ‘I gave up a spot and now I’m on the bottom too. I really blew it.’ That happens out there so many times that everybody is trying to play the game, so just put a cone out there and say, ‘Go left or right.’ Where you go is where you are. If you change after that, you go to the end of the line and you’re out. It’s an easy thing to do. I think right now it might be tough because we have plenty of changes right now with everything we’re doing, so I think we need to give a little bit of grace here, but I do think in the future I would love to try. I would love to have that in our sport. I think most of us have ran races with the choose rule or put the cone out there at some point in our careers. I tell you, if I see a bunch of 12-year-olds do it in the Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway, I’m pretty sure all of us could figure it out.”

CHARLOTTE PRE-RACE IS ALSO SO BIG. HOW DIFFERENT IS IT GOING TO BE TO NOT HAVE ANY OF THAT? “I don’t know if that’s quite the case that we’re not gonna have any of that. We’re gonna have quite a bit of that still. I don’t know the exact details, but I know we’re gonna have names on our cars from fallen soldiers. Knowing Charlotte Motor Speedway from the last few years that I’ve been in this sport, I know that they always find a way, especially with Coca-Cola, to find a way to honor our men and women who have served our country for our freedom. I know Fox will probably have a big presentation as well, so when you say none of that I think that’s way off.”

I MEAN PHYSICALLY WITH THE PRE-RACE SHOW – ALL THE POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE. “I can’t tell you until I get there. Like I said, I think there will still be some form of that for sure going on, whether that’s American flags throughout our teams and pit crews that bring things like that to the race track, we’ll be honoring in every possible way that we can. Maybe it won’t be the big show on the front straightway that we’ve gotten used to, but it won’t be in the back of our minds. It will be in the front of our minds of what that weekend is about.”

YOUR THOUGHTS ON SEEING ANOTHER COMPETITOR SALUTE ANOTHER COMPETITOR ON THE TRACK LIKE CHASE ELLIOTT DID THE OTHER NIGHT? AND DID YOU HAVE CHASE BEING FIRST TO DO THAT IN THE DRIVER POOL? “I didn’t see it until afterwards, which was a big letdown. I didn’t see it when it was happening. It was pretty good (laughing). I don’t know. It’s not my deal. I’m not involved in it. I’m involved in plenty. I’m choosing to stay out of this one.”

WHAT’S IT LIKE AFTER A RACE WHERE YOU CAN’T REALLY TALK TO ANOTHER DRIVER ABOUT SOMETHING. HAS IT BEEN MORE TEXTING AS FAR AS COMMUNICATING POST-RACE? “Yeah, I think so. Typically, you get out of the car and you may just go to the car behind you or in front of you that you were just racing and say, ‘That was cool,’ or ‘I’m mad and I hate you,’ whatever it is (laughing). Now, you get out of the car you put your mask on and kind of just walk away, which is weird. Yeah, we have communication still. I’ve been in touch with a couple of drivers this week just talking about the race itself, not good or bad, just like, ‘Hey, that was cool, or what do you think about this moment.’ Now with conflict I’m not really sure how that works. It might be a good thing for me anyway because normally I want to talk about it in person. That’s just the type of person that I am. I want to talk about it right now.”

FORD HAS NOT WON THE COCA-COLA 600 SINCE 2002. WHAT DOES A FORD HAVE TO DO TO GET BACK IN VICTORY LANE? “Well, go faster than everybody, I guess (laughing). I don’t know the reasons why. I can think of quite a few 600s, at least the 22 which is what I can control, has been very close to winning. I think I’ve got a few seconds and thirds there and have yet to break through. As a Coca-Cola driver, I know how big of a deal it is to win that thing and feel the pressure to do it. I want to get it done. I’ve been, like I said, close. There are different things every time and it takes the whole package to make it happen. The driver has got to be on his game. The pit crew’s got to be on it. The car’s got to be good and things gotta fall your way, so I guess in recent years it hasn’t for the Ford guys, but I wouldn’t bet money against us this week.”

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