Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Q & A with Joey Logano at Phoenix

Joey Logano finished fourth in the spring race at Phoenix
Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion, is tied for the points lead going into this weekend’s Eliminator Round finale at Phoenix International Raceway. He spoke with members of the media before today’s practice session and discussed his situation.

JOEY LOGANO – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion – “Basically, we want to do what we did here in the spring. We had a good car that started up front and led some laps. We were able to have a solid day and finish fourth. Obviously, like you said, all we have to do is finish 11th, but our goal is to come out here and win the race. If our goal was only 11th, we may not finish there, so we have to make sure we set our goals high like we’ve been doing for the rest of the season.”

CAN YOU AFFORD TO EVEN THINK ABOUT THE FACT THE BEST YOU HAVE TO DO IS 11TH? “It’s in your mind. You start thinking about what you have to do to get to the next round, but at the same time you have to not think about that at the race. You have to stay focused in on the task at hand like we did last week. We quite possibly could have been out of it last week after everything started happening there at the end of the race. I feel like we recovered great. We didn’t finish where we wanted to going into the day, but after losing that many spots toward the end of the race and being able to come home 12th – all things considered – it was a decent day. We’ll have to do the same thing here – go out there and try to win the race and roll with the punches no matter what happens. No pun intended (laughing).”

WHAT DRIVER DID YOU LOOK UP TO AS A KID? “Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon were my favorite race car drivers growing up. When you’re six years old you never imagined that you’d be racing against them some day, especially or a championship. How cool is that? I was able to race Mark for a victory in Pocono one time and that was awesome and racing against Jeff Gordon for a championship in the Sprint Cup Series is a dream come true. As a six year old you say that all the time because you really don’t know better, and as you get older you realize how hard it is. To be able to make it this far has been a lot of fun so far, but we don’t want to end here.”

WHEN YOU HAD CONTACT WITH AMBROSE WAS IT THE SIDE SKIRT THAT CUT THE TIRE? “I would assume it was something like that. Everyone has been so aggressive with that stuff lately. I got hit in the door and the next thing you know I had a right-rear flat.”

IS THERE SOMETHING THAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT THAT? “I don’t make the rules. It is what it is. Everyone is taking advantage of what is there as they should. I don’t blame anyone. Obviously the consequences of that is you touch each other and you can get a flat tire, but that’s all part of it. We all know it. We can see it. We know if we touch each other we’ll have an issue because of everyone being so aggressive in that department, but that’s the name of the game right now.”

IS IT WEIRD THAT YOU HAVE SIX TOP-5 FINISHES IN THE CHASE AND YOU’RE TIED IN THE POINTS WITH SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT HAVE ONE? “I guess (laughing). It’s the same rules for everyone, so we have to be able to work the best at it as we can. We’ve had a great Chase so far. Can it all end this weekend? Yes, and that’s the unfortunate part. If this was last year, we’d be sitting in really good shape right now looking at a championship pretty comfortably coming into this race. The fact is those aren’t the rules this year and we have to play by what cards are dealt. It’s challenging because you can have such a great year and then you have two mediocre races instead of great races like you’ve had to this point and you’re out. You can have a great season all the way up to Homestead and something goes wrong and you finish fourth. It’s the same for everyone. We all know it. We have to deal with it and it seems like the way the point system is this year that stats don’t matter. The amount of wins and amount of top fives and top 10s it doesn’t matter if you look at who is up front in points right now. It doesn’t make a difference if you look at the amount of top fives or top 10s someone has because some of the guys back there like Brad, he has six wins and he’s out right now. Jeff Gordon is the same way. Some of these other cars don’t have any wins and they’re in, so that’s just the way the rules are right now and everyone is dealing with them the best they can.”

YOUR RESULTS HAVE REALLY TURNED AROUND HERE. WHAT HAS CHANGED? “That seems to be the trend at a lot of places for us. At the beginning of my career I had a hard time at a lot of places to be honest with you, but over time as a driver I’ve been able to figure out what I need at certain race tracks and how to go fast and I’ve been able to communicate that with my crew chief. Todd has been able to do a good job with me the last couple years making sure we stay disciplined to what we need in practice and that pays off in the race for us. It’s kind of understanding what makes you fast is just as important as being fast. You can get lucky every now and again and have a fast race car, but not understanding why it’s fast is not a very good thing. To be able to be consistently good at a certain race track or a certain style of racing I think you have to understand why you are.”

HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THE VARIOUS STRATEGIES TO FIGURE OUT THE SAFEST ROUTE TO ADVANCE TO HOMESTEAD? “To be honest with you it’s doing what we’ve been doing. Like I’ve been doing this whole Chase, we haven’t changed our theory and the way we attack a race since we started the Chase. We’ve gone out here and tried to win every race and tried to get the best finish we possibly can get no matter what happens. We’ll keep our heads cool. If something happens we’re not screaming and yelling on the radio at each other, we’re just gonna deal with it and make the best of the situation no matter what. That’s how I think you get the best finish and that’s what we’ve been able to do. We’re gonna try to run up front. We’re gonna try to qualify up there today. We’re gonna try to make the fastest Shell/Pennzoil Ford we can make and then we’re gonna try to win the race. Now if it comes down the end and there’s one of those moves that’s a checkers or wreckers thing, maybe we won’t do that. Maybe we won’t go three or four-wide for the win knowing you may wreck. That’s probably not worth it, but, at the same time, I think we have to stay on the attack mode throughout the race to keep our track position and make sure we’re up towards the front. We proved it last week because as soon as we lost track position we got hit in the door, we had a flat tire, and it just snowballed the wrong way. So you’ve got to be up towards the front to feel safe, so you’ve got to be aggressive to be up there in the first place.”

IS IT CHECKERS OR WRECKERS AT HOMESTEAD? “Yeah, you have to be. You’ve got to go for a win there. I think the guy who wins the championship is gonna win the race. That’s my thought. You never know, but I really do think that and we’ve got to get there first.”

BRAD HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN SOME STUFF RECENTLY. WHAT IS YOUR VIEW OF HIS SITUATION AND HOW DO YOU VIEW HIM PERSONALLY? “It’s definitely a tough situation. I can’t say I’ve been in the exact same situation, but I think I’ve been in similar situations as him and it’s tough. It’s definitely hard and you have to be able to stay focused on what the main goal is and that’s to go out there and win the championship. Obviously, everybody is gonna play the games and everyone is gonna try to take you down, but I think Brad is pretty strong to be able to handle that stuff. For me, I’ll be the best teammate I can to him. We support each other. We try to work with each other and make our cars the fastest and that doesn’t mean just talking about our race cars that means talking about other things that go on on the race track. Obviously, it’s a tough situation to be in, for sure, but, at the same time, we try to help each other as much as we can.”

BUT YOU DON’T HAVE ANY ISSUES WITH THE WAY HE DRIVES, DO YOU? “No. He’s my teammate. I think each situation is different, but the way I race with him I have no problem. We race each other fine. He races me clean and hard and I race him clean and hard and that works for me. If anything happens from there out is maybe different from different people’s opinions and the way he races other people maybe, I don’t know, but I know from my own experience that we race each other fine.”

WHAT IS BRAD DOING WRONG? WHY ARE ALL THESE GUYS MAD AT HIM? “Why are you asking me? (laughing) You don’t really know the situation unless you’re in the situation yourself. I wasn’t driving the 24 or the 2 car last week. I don’t really know what happened. We can all watch the film as much as we want and say, ‘Oh, it looks like this happened or it looks like that happened.’ We’re all gonna have different opinions and most likely both drivers are not gonna have the same opinion either because we all have big egos here and we’re all right. That’s how we think, but deep down inside they probably know what happened. They may not admit it, but it’s not my place to judge. I think when you’re in the situation and you’re driving the car you know what’s going on and you know what you’re doing, and it’s just kind of how you deal with it afterwards. If it was a mistake or if it was on purpose that’s something you need to communicate afterwards and go from there. I think as far as code, I think you can watch a race and understand what’s OK and what’s not OK at the same time.”

IS IT A DISADVANTAGE TO HAVE A TEAMMATE THAT’S NOT STILL ALIVE IN THE CHASE? ONE OF THOSE GUYS COULD GIVE UP A SPOT TO LET A TEAMMATE WHO IS IN THE CHASE GAIN A POINT. “I think it’s an advantage that we have two cars still racing for a championship. We still have two Fords left to fire away and go for a championship. That’s an advantage. That’s a great thing for Team Penske. It’s great momentum for everyone at our shop building our race cars. It’s a privilege to have that and something to be proud of. We definitely don’t look at it as a disadvantage. We’re both gonna race each other the way we have been all year and we’ve been winning races together racing that way. I don’t see it as a disadvantage at all. I see it as an advantage that we can still keep growing off of each other and learning from each other’s mistakes and the good things we do and to be able to make ourselves better like we’ve done all year, so I think it’s a good thing.”

BUT A TEAMMATE COULD GIVE UP A SPOT TO HELP ONE OF THEIR GUYS GAIN A SPOT. “It can happen. When we go to Homestead that could happen, but there is that 100 percent rule that we all have to race hard. We’ll see what happens after that, but I think for the most part everyone is gonna race hard. It’s the last race of the year. Everyone is gonna want to go out there and win the race and end on a good note no matter what. Yes, there are four cars racing for a championship and a lot can go down into that, but really you just have to stay focused on your own car and what you can control and then whatever happens from there happens.”

- PCGCampbell for Ford Racing

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