Ford Performance NASCAR: Joey Logano Media Teleconference

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang — HOW NICE IS IT TO FEEL FAIRLY COMFORTABLE THAT YOU’RE GOING TO ADVANCE OR DOES IT STILL WEIGH IN YOUR HEAD THAT THERE IS STILL A MATHEMATICAL CHANCE YOU COULD GET KNOCKED OUT? “A little bit. You think about it, but I think we’ve done a pretty good job here the last couple of races with a couple of top-three finishes and getting some stage points at Richmond put us in a pretty solid place for Bristol, which every two weeks you’re gonna have this moment to where everyone is on pins and needles. There are drivers that are desperate that need to win. There are drivers that are just trying to get every point that’s possible there. We’re fortunate to be in a pretty good spot for Bristol this weekend.”


YOU AND BRAD START AT THE FRONT. IS THAT GOOD? WILL THAT HELP? “That’s better than starting at the back of the race. I think starting at the front is a great thing, so we’ll continue to hopefully stay at the front and try to get a stage win, try to get our race win most importantly. We’ve been pretty good there the last few races, both Brad and I, and Blaney has been good there, too. I think Team Penske should have some good cars there and, hopefully, myself and Paul and the guys are able to grow on what we had in the spring race there and the All-Star Race and have something. The interesting part about this weekend really is that this is the third time we’ve come to this racetrack this year. Even though we don’t have practice, the fact that you’re going back again kind of lets you take all those notes and everything that you’ve learned those first couple races and actually put it into use. Most of the time we go into a track that’s not even close to the same and you can never take what you learned and put it to use. Well, we have that opportunity now, so we’ll try some new things, some adjustments to our car from the last time we were there. We think it makes sense, but there’s no way of really verifying it until the race starts.”

American Muscle

HAVE YOU AND BRAD TALKED ABOUT HOW TO RACE EACH OTHER OR WHAT YOU THINK IS FAIR? “I think every teammate always has that conversation and what is acceptable and what isn’t. It’s always something that’s pretty confusing and hard to get around because the goal for each team is the same. The goal is you want to win and get through to the next round. It’s the same thing with Team Penske. We need to make sure one of us wins, for sure. That is the one thing that you can agree on no matter what is one of us better win this thing. It kind of matters at what point of the race it is, whether you’re coming down to the end of a stage or end of a race might be different than what it is 50 laps into a race or a few laps into a race. Every situation is different, so it’s hard to play out each scenario before it happens, but I think the biggest thing — just like any relationship that you’re in with your wife or your husband, your girlfriend, whoever, you need to communicate. You need to talk about it. That’s the biggest thing, and as soon as you talk about it you see that there are two sides to every story and until you know that other side you can really make the smallest little ant mound into a big old mess. We always talk about it. We’ve had those conversations tons of times.”

HOW CLOSE DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE TO REGAINING THE FORM YOU HAD TO START THE YEAR? “Apparently two spots away. We’re getting closer, which is great. A minute ago we touched on how we don’t practice anymore and coming back to a racetrack for a second and a third time you have some notes to go off of, and, for us this year as a new team working together, Paul Wolfe, myself and the team, they had to learn what I mean when I say certain things. What I’m looking for inside the car. When we had practice early in the year we were able to adjust on the car and get it there. When you take that practice away and just show up, it’s a bit of an unknown because you don’t know what’s gonna happen, so that made that growing process a little bit harder and even the communication barriers that we go through. Obviously, you guys see as we’re all on virtual calls every day that it’s not the same as being in person. It’s just not, and eventually if you go have practice, you run out of things to talk about. There’s only so much prep you can do to get ready and then after that it’s like, ‘Well, I guess we just go and see what happens.’ There’s not much to talk about eventually once you get your setup in place and your strategy in place. You just go. The weekends are short. There are things that are different and it just makes that growing curve a little bit harder than we thought it would be, but I feel like at this point in the season we’re really starting to get where we need to and starting to move forward.”

HOW DO YOU LOOK AT THE ROUND 2 RACES? “The same way we do all the time is maximize the finish. Get as many points as possible, win — that would be great and that’s obviously the goal is to win the race, but if you can’t it’s get everything you possibly can, just like we have these first two races of the playoffs. That doesn’t change. Now, when you get to your third race and you see where you’re at, then you might have to change your plan at that point, but when you look at three races it’s hard to say there’s a strategy of it besides just go out there and pass the car in front of you. It’s pretty simple, but, like I said, this weekend when it’s a cutoff race and there are teams that have to win, well, you obviously change your strategy to that.”

THE FIRST TWO RACES OF THE NEXT ROUND ARE KEY SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE ROVAL AND TRYING TO DEFEND THE CUTOFF LINE, RIGHT? “It’s not a fun place to be. It’s a stressful place, but I’ve said this all the time, when you’re in the playoffs there is going to be a time you will have to win. Even if you run up towards the front, there’s going to be a point, especially if you get to Phoenix, you’re gonna have to win that thing. We’ve seen that happen every year during this championship format is you have to win the final race to win the championship. You’re gonna have to win at some point and the pressure is gonna be on one way or another, so you want to try to make the next two races be able to score as many points as possible to position yourself in a good spot, but at some point the pressure is gonna be there. Yeah, I don’t want to have my back against the wall at the Roval, but if it does, it does and we’ll handle it then.”

HOW HAS THE CHOOSE RULE IMPACTED THE PLAYOFFS IF IT HAS, AND IF NOT HOW MIGHT IT IMPACT THINGS GOING FORWARD? “I think it impacts the races. I don’t know if it’s changing much for the playoffs in general, but the race itself it has changed a lot and I love it. I think it’s great. It adds another piece of strategy to the races of what lanes you want to be in and a lot of it depends on some lanes get better driver. You look at Richmond last week and the bottom lane gets better drive, but being in the top lane after that wasn’t that bad of a place to be. How much are you willing to risk to be in the preferred lane or the non-preferred lane? What are the gains and the risks and reward is what you kind of have to look at with these decisions, and who is in front of you? Maybe it’s a car that you know doesn’t fire off well and you don’t want to be near that one or not behind that one that’s gonna trap you, so every racetrack is different. It’s a lot to look into compared to what it used to be because you it used to just kind of be where you rolled off of pit road and if you were in the right spot, you got lucky and if not, uh. Well, this takes the luck right out of it. To me, there’s a lot of science that goes behind which lane you want to be in that’s gonna put you in the best spot later.”

HOW HAVE YOU BEEN DEALING WITH THIS NEW SYSTEM IN REGARDS TO YOUR FOUNDATION BECAUSE YOU CAN’T DO THINGS AT THE TRACK LIKE BEFORE? “Zoom calls. We’ve been doing some things through Zoom with the JL Kids Crew, which is only as good to a certain point. I’m such a fan of being in person with people, but this is what we have and we’re lucky to have this technology during these times, but with the foundation itself, outside of doing the JL Kids Crew, we obviously did the Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund. That was a million dollars that we just dispersed throughout the country, helping with so many different areas with people that are struggling through this pandemic right now. And now we’re going back to what our roots are, which is giving second chances to children and young adults in times of crisis and in this moment it’s actually more important than ever because you think about everyone is going through their own struggles right now in their own world and usually when you’re struggling yourself you don’t think about others as much and it gets harder and harder for these organizations that help mentoring kids, foster families, group-type homes, all these things that these kids need, and it’s not their fault a lot of the times when they’re in this position and they just need someone to believe. They need some faith and someone to just support what they can be, so for the next eight weeks — the rest of the season — we’re gonna give $22,000 a week to organizations that help support that cause through the Joey Logano Foundation and our supporters.”

THERE HAVE BEEN RUMORS ABOUT DENNY HAMLIN RUNNING HIS OWN CUP TEAM. HOW WOULD YOU FEEL ABOUT A DRIVER OWNING ANOTHER TEAM? “It’s not the first time it’s happened. You look at what Earnhardt did back in the day. Ricky Rudd, there were quite a few guys that owned their own race team and whether they drove it or had someone else drive it, I don’t know the ins-and-outs of all these details and what’s going on and what rumors are true and which ones aren’t. I have no idea. I know it’s one heck of a project if that’s the direction he’s going, which, all the power to him. Good luck. I hope it works well and it goes well for him, but that is a big project to take on, so I’ll be interested to see how it all goes and what happens and hope for the best, but I don’t know the details about the situation.”

WILL YOU BE RACING CHASE ELLIOTT ANY DIFFERENTLY THIS WEEK AFTER WHAT HAPPENED THE LAST TIME AT BRISTOL GIVEN THE HIGH STAKES? “We race to win. That’s what we’ll continue to do. Race people the way they race you. That’s kind of the expectations that I’ve always had. If you race someone the way they race you, they’re gonna race you the way you race them. That, to me, is the driver code. As this sport has been brought up so many times and talked about what is code, what is code, to me, that’s what it is. You treat people how they treat you and that’s just the way I kind of move through on the racing side of things.”

DO YOU FEEL MOMENTUM AS A DRIVER GOING TO BRISTOL? HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO KEEP IT GOING INTO THE NEXT ROUND? “It’s important, for sure. Momentum is confidence and I feel like we’re pretty close to where we were in the beginning of the year when we were able to click off those wins. I feel like our speed is in those positions to where with the right situations, the right decisions on strategy, things like that, we can put ourselves in a winning spot again, just like we were. So I feel good about that. I feel like we’re very confident as a race team right now and a lot of that is because how much we’ve grown over the last few months, and I’ve said this a few times to my guys is that when we won the championship in 2018, I remember telling my wife about four weeks before the playoffs started, I said, ‘There ain’t no way we get through the second round of this thing. We’re not fast enough.’ And the next thing you know a little bit of speed popped up and the next thing you know there’s this pretty tiny trophy behind me. You just don’t know how quick that happens, so with that in the back of my mind I always feel like we always have a shot, no matter what. With that on top of actually proving that we have some speed here the last few weeks and capable of winning makes us feel pretty good about where we’re at.”

DO YOU FEEL YOUR CARS AND THE TEAM ARE GOOD ENOUGH TO WIN ANOTHER CHAMPIONSHIP? “I think we’re there. Our pit crew is firing on all eight right now. They’re very fast. Paul and I are working together better than ever as we get to know each other better and better. We’re all working on each other individually to be better. We’re working with each other as a team to be better, and I think we just have to kind of figure out how do you race during Covid-19. That’s just what it is. This whole pandemic has changed the game for everybody and it was a little bit more challenging for us to kind of figure it out for whatever reasons. Believe me, we’ve got 15-20 different reasons, but I do feel like we’ve really overcome a lot of those hurdles at this point and put ourselves in position again to have speed and start to capitalize. Like I said, I feel pretty good about it.”

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