NASCAR Media Conference
July 31, 2012
THE MODERATOR: We welcome Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. He currently sits 17th in the NASCAR Cup Series pointing standings, and he won at Pocono Raceway during the series first visit to the 'Tricky Triangle' this year on June 10 putting him in prime position for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup wild‑card berth and is currently fourth in the wild‑card standings.
With six races left until the Chase cutoff, is there anything that you and the team are doing differently to prepare for the races?
JOEY LOGANO: Not really. We go every weekend to win. We can't do any more or less for any other race. We just do what we do every week and try to win.
We go into Pocono with a lot of confidence after winning there earlier this year with a really strong car that's fast in practice, qualified on the pole and won the race.
When you have a car like that, if we are bringing back the same one, I guess we'll be going in with a lot of confidence to the weekend.
Q. Thanks for taking the time. Your teammate, Denny Hamlin, he's been pretty dominant at Pocono. Is there anything that they were able to do or is there any sharing of information that was helpful to you to get the big win when we were there last time, and with the new service, did any of those old notes transfer?
JOEY LOGANO: Yes and no. At the same time, it's definitely a track that's a lot different than what it used to be, but it's still Pocono.
So a lot of the things that you did before to make the car go faster are still the same. Setups could be way, way, way different but Denny has differently helped both Kyle and I out there a lot, because obviously he was really good there and won a lot of races there.
And he's got us around there a few times, and teaching us quite a few things, and I think JGR as a company has been really strong over the years as Pocono, too. I think the drivers know what they are looking for and the teams are able to give us what we need.
Q. Do you guys feel like you're in a situation where you have nothing to lose? Basically its wins that are going to get you into the Chase more than likely.
JOEY LOGANO: Yes, we are at that point, especially after last weekend. We were definitely at the point that we have to win another race to get in the race. So that's definitely‑‑ you know, we don't have as much to lose at this point, so just go for it.
Q. I guess everywhere you go, you get asked about your future. I just wondered, I didn't want to get into it so much now unless you have an announcement for us, how tough is that? Do you feel that you have to prove yourself each week now or do you just relax and go racing?
JOEY LOGANO: I don't think you ever relax and go racing. It's a stressful environment out here. But at the same time, you need to do what you do best, and all of that other stuff is going to come along with it eventually.
I'll focus on the racing part and during the week, see where the best opportunity is going to be for me and go with that.
Q. Not only do you have a chance to sweep and do something that only a handful of drivers have done at Pocono as far as sweeping both races in the season, but you have a chance to win three straight poles at Pocono, which is something I think only one other driver has done. What would it mean to do that? And can you talk about your recent qualifying success there and maybe take us a lap around there; what are some of the keys to qualifying on the pole are at Pocono?
JOEY LOGANO: I had some fast cars there in qualifying from the last couple of times. It's cool to get a pole on the old track and on the new track. You know, the last race before the repavement, we led a lot of laps and unfortunately we had a tire flat at the end of the race there. But we had some good speed in our cars, and you know, I think qualifying for us is important there, too.
You've got to have the right mind‑set when you go into practice and when you're going to put your fast lap and when you're going to go into qualifying, and obviously when you go out there and qualify, it's a little bit trickier place to qualify, because you have one more turn to either get it right or screw up real fast.
Definitely it's tricky; they call it the tricky triangle for a reason. It's definitely hard to go out there just like it is every other week, to go out there and lay down the best lap of your life, and you have one shot at it. Definitely a little tricky.
Q. I don't know if you're into historical things or anything like that; what would it mean to you if you were to sweep, because only a handful of guys have ever swept the two races in one season at Pocono. What would that mean to you?
JOEY LOGANO: That would mean a lot. To win anywhere, means a lot. Especially right now in the Chase, but to be able to sweep two races in a season like that at one racetrack, definitely extra cool.
Like I said, though, anywhere you win is a good win.
Q. Obviously Pocono is one of those tracks where you build tremendous speed on the front stretch and then you slow dramatically into the first turn. How did the sensation of that change with the repaving, or did it? Could you tell a dramatic difference?
JOEY LOGANO: You know, we actually don't slow down as much as we used to into one. It was a lot smoother track and a lot more grip. We are able to drive it in there a lot harder and use a lot less brake than what we were able to before. And we are not really going much faster down the front straightaway than we did before.
So it's definitely‑‑ you still have the sensation of really pushing down into one, but before it was real bumpy, and the car was flying around a lot more, you know, and all that.
So turn one at Pocono, the old track, you're super busy because you're trying to grab the down shift in there, you're trying to slow down, you're trying to hit your line, it's very line sensitive; it's tight and it's bumpy, and there's a lot of things going on.
Now at least it's a little more simple. You're still slowing down quite a bit, but it's not as much.
Q. Obviously you want to win everywhere, and you need another win to maybe get a wild‑card. Do you see, considering what you did there in June, do you see this week as your very best shot in winning one of those last six races?
JOEY LOGANO: I think it's a good shot. I mean, you look at previous races and this is a really good one for me. Yeah, I think it's a good shot just like it's a good shot every weekend.
Q. Denny Hamlin was extremely complimentary to you on the grid after qualifying. He talked about the fact that you are as hard‑working as any of the drivers on the team, contributing more than you ever have. As a teammate, he's getting more information from you, he goes to the shop and you're there. He said, right now, what you're contributing is very, very, very much more than has been, say, a year ago, and he's really complimentary of where you're at right now. I wonder if you could sort of talk to that a bit.
JOEY LOGANO: That's pretty cool. I never heard him say that, so that's cool.
You know, obviously I do everything I possibly can to be the best race car driver I can be and to help our team out as much as we can. I think this year, I have a lot more confidence in myself and my abilities in what we are doing out there. You know, the results show on the racetrack.
So obviously, you voice your opinion more when you know what you're doing a little bit more.
Q. So you feel that now you can sort of stand up, and you said you're really contributing a great deal to what he's picking up and as a teammate, he sort of puts you on the top of the stack.
JOEY LOGANO: It seems like we are definitely all working together very well. I think Kyle and Denny and myself are able to definitely transfer notes better. We are able to relate about some things that are going on with our cars, and try to grow the team as one, better. We have made some gains within our company in the last few months and it's up making our cars better, and like I said, the results are on the racetrack because of that. So I feel like the three teams are working as one team better.
Q. Wondering how you look at what happened on Sunday, and do you look at it as just trying to make something happen and it happened, or do you view it as a mistake, or how do you view Sunday?
JOEY LOGANO: A mistake, for sure. I got pretty frustrated. We were running sixth, seventh, all day and I felt like we had a pretty good car and felt like we were consistently tightening our car up every run and our car, we were getting better and better and got closer and closer. And had a bad pit spot and fell to 13th spot and got to the back in the pack.
And that place is so aero sensitive, worse than any other racetrack than we go and the car drove nothing like it did, and all I wanted was my car was to be as loose as it was in the beginning of the race, because it was that different. We went from running 6th to having a good car to, I couldn't even say it, 18th or 20th. I was getting passed there; so I was like, what the heck happened.
I got frustrated and then i had the opportunity to pass a couple of cars there, and just got in the corner too hot. So, yeah, it's frustrating, because you don't want to have a bad race like that. But at the same time, it just makes us focus in on winning, because that's what we've got to do now.
Q. You dropped a spot or two in the points, but does that matter a whole lot? Or do you feel like you're in the same position going into Pocono as you were last week going into Indianapolis as far as your Chase hopes?
JOEY LOGANO: It doesn't help, because there's also a good chance that one of the guys that are in front of me with one win, there's a good chance they can get another win. So if I can get another win, that's two wins. If they get another win and get two wins, I'll be out. The points do matter. The points do matter to be up there. But also the win is more important right now than anything.
So obviously points come with the win, so that would also help me move up. But if there's three people with two wins, which I think there's a good chance that could happen, you're going to have to be the guy that is up there with the points, too.
Q. One thing Denny said was the gap between you and Kyle and Denny have all kind of closed. Can you talk about how far that gap was a year or so ago, and what do you feel like you've done to close it off?
JOEY LOGANO: It definitely was different, you know, for sure. And it's hard to pinpoint why. But I think obviously results and confidence in yourself, like I said earlier, that brings all of us closer together and we're out there racing closer together. I don't feel like we're the third guy anymore. I feel like we are more of an equal out there.
So I think that gives you more confidence in your meetings and I think they listen to you more in the meetings. So we are able to help each other more. It's like a respect thing that takes a little bit of time to earn, and it was hard to do that because we didn't have the results we needed the last few years. Now that we get the results that are a lot closer to where we need to be, we can contribute to our team a lot more.
So it just all kind of goes together. It all kind of grows in one piece, and it's hard to pinpoint one thing that does that, but I guess the one great thing is that the results that makes it happen.
Q. Did you feel disrespected when you were going into meetings before?
JOEY LOGANO: I wouldn't say disrespect. I just think that you have to earn stuff like that.
Q. How much of the Olympics have you watched?
JOEY LOGANO: I haven't watched a whole bunch. But I do like watching it. I was watching last night. But I haven't watched a whole bunch. I do like watching it but I haven't really sat down and watched a whole bunch yet.
Q. Do you feel like auto racing should be included as a sport? I know there was talk about it with the Formula1 guys and the IOC president shot it down and said this is too much about machines and it doesn't have a place in Olympic sport. If you had your druthers, would it be a part of the Games?
JOEY LOGANO: I think it would be awesome for us to do that. We were talking about that the other night, or was it two nights ago, before our tire test at Michigan. We were watching the Olympics at a restaurant we were at; that would be cool if racing were in it. And the same thing kind of came up.
It involves a lot of different people on the teams, and obviously the equipment means a lot. It would be difficult just to build a car for the Olympics. You would have to build a random different kind of car because so it would be equal for F1 guys or Cup guys or Indy guys or wherever they come from. And they have that Race of Champions which I think is really cool.
But you can't build two cars exactly the same. For some reason‑‑ you can build them real close but there's always going to be something a little bit different about them and there would be an advantage one way or another. I think it's hard; really hard to do that. You can make it a team deal, make it a U.S. team and all that, and it would be really cool to do that. There would be a lot of us wanting to be that guy.
Q. The two Pocono races are almost back‑to‑back; can you take the notes and all that stuff from the race win and will it work this weekend with the temperatures being the same and that kind of thing?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, when the races are closer, your notes relate a lot better than it is coming to a racetrack a whole year later, because a lot of things can be different a year later. Your general set up of a car usually changes a lot throughout a year. Your chassis usually changes and your bodies are different. It's hard to go back on what you have and improve on that. Usually come with a whole different package.
So I think now we are going to go back with something very similar. We have got the same car. So we can kind of build off where we were a little bit more. We'll integrate some new things that we have come up with the last few weeks and try to put it in there and see how it does with that, but we have a starting baseline to go back to.
Q. So you have the same car that won the race; is there anything that you can do to make it even better?
JOEY LOGANO: Of course. A race car is never perfect, I promise you that. As much as you always try, I think the real good race car drivers are perfectionists and never good enough, and you're always trying to find a little bit more here and a little bit more there.
So, we are greedy. That's part of being an athlete or wanting to be the best at what you do.
Q. Finally watching the Olympics, one of the things that strikes me, we see always the shots of the parents and they always look to on edge or so proud or crying or whatever, and we don't really get to see it in NASCAR at this level. What do your parents think of your success and being up in the Cup Series?
JOEY LOGANO: I think they have a good time with it. I hope they have fun with it. Definitely there's a very select few of us that actually get to get to this level, and forget even winning at this level, is really hard.
So as a parent ‑‑ I know my parents are proud of me, and they have helped me out so much in my career to get here. And just like 95 percent of the athletes that make it to the Olympics or make it to NASCAR or make it to baseball or whatever, their family usually plays a pretty big role in that.
Yeah, definitely you can't do this on your own, so you've done it with them your whole life and it's cool to have them there when you make it.
Q. A lot of race fans wonder, gee, how does that driver get involved with car racing, and we have been asked that a hundred times. Let me ask you something, when you were, I think you were 12 years old, and correct me if I'm wrong on this, you did something that was really big time. You started racing legend cars. You went on to set a track record at Atlanta Motor Speedway where you had 14 consecutive wins, and that's big time. Was it at that time in your life that you said, well, I'm definitely going to stick with auto racing?
JOEY LOGANO: I don't think I ever had a moment that I said, I'm going to stick with auto racing. I think it was always the game plan from the get go for me.
I wanted to be a race car driver since I was six years old. I was probably younger than that. I was the little kid with all the little Matchbox cars running them around on the carpet with a racetrack on it; that was me. That's what I enjoyed doing. Some kids at home they like playing basketball and like playing soccer. I had a little go‑kart and had a little yard cart and I drove the thing all around the yard all afternoon and had a blast. Even just by myself, I just had a blast driving it.
So I was able to take that to the extreme. And going back to the family thing, that's something that you can't do without that. So there was never a moment, like, I'm pretty good at this, I'm going to keep going with it. It was just always that way, that's what I wanted to do, and I was going to do whatever it takes.
Q. Twelve different drivers have won; do you feel that's going to say the same way, the same drivers are going to still win or do you think other drivers are going to come along and tighten the race up even more?
JOEY LOGANO: I think there's a few guys this year who haven't gotten a win that are probably going to get one. I think the 24 being one that's definitely is probably going to win; he has at least a couple every year.
There's a few guys that have not gotten a win this year that I would pretty much bank on, they are probably going to get a win at some point. That's why I was saying two wins may not be enough, because so many guys have one win right now. You need to have two wins and points, or three. So we have to take it up a notch.
Q. Would you say it's real possible that it actually could come down to a small number of points, like just a few points will make a difference of getting in or not getting in?
JOEY LOGANO: You look at how close the points are from 17 to 12, 11, it's very close back there with all of those guys with one win.
Yes, points are super close and it's going to come down to probably the last lap at Richmond.
Q. How does that play in your mind when you go into a race, do you just take it race by race anyway?
JOEY LOGANO: You've got to be aggressive with it. If you think about it too much, you're going to not be up front where you need to be.
I think that's one thing I've done this year is be more aggressive than I've been in the past. I've made mistakes with that, but trying to limit that. At the same time, you've got to go for it. You've got to risk it to get the biscuit. You've got to go for it and you have to be aggressive on restarts and pass cars if that's your shot. Sometimes it gets a little hairy out there and it's a little tricky, but you have got to be ‑‑ you have calculated decisions but aggressive decisions.
Q. How much differently was it racing a Nationwide Series car at Indianapolis? And also, could you have brought anything to the Nationwide Series from racing in the Sprint Cup Series, or does everyone have to learn new things?
JOEY LOGANO: Definitely the Nationwide car, in answer to your first question, it was interesting. It was a lot different. Obviously you have a lot less horsepower. So you're driving part of it harder and you're not using much brake at all, and you're backing the gas way early. So you're asking a lot out of your car to turn a lot on gas with momentum.
We didn't hit it where we needed to be all weekend. We just couldn't hit the car where we wanted it. But yes, you can; it did help that I had laps on that racetrack. When you jump into a Nationwide car there for a first time, you definitely have an advantage over the normal Nationwide regulars, because you've been at the track and you have some experience.
But at the same time, that place, you need a really good car to run good at that place. Definitely there's only one line around it. So it's definitely tricky to get that right, and you know, as a driver, it is tricky to hit your line but it's pretty simple to realize what the line is and where you need to be.
Q. And what are some of the things that goes through the drivers's mind before a race knowing that you won at the track back on June 10?
JOEY LOGANO: Same thing that goes through your mind if you didn't win at that racetrack earlier. You have a game plan and you know what you've got to do before the race, and you go through your pit road speed and you take your tires off and you know what you've got to do. You try to picture out what's going to happen on the restarts and who is around you and what their tendencies are on restarts and try to take advantage of that, just like you do on any restart or any start of any race.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Joey, for joining us today. We wish you all the best this weekend in Pocono.
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