Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang, is the defending winner of this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He stopped by the infield media center before qualifying to talk about the start to his season in last week’s Daytona 500 in addition to his hopes for Sunday’s race.

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang Dark Horse – HOW DO YOU LOOK AT THE EXCESSIVE FUEL SAVING WE’VE SEEN? “We talk about all the time how the draft evolves and how people evolve over time and you can’t unlearn things. Well, this is kind of the next step of speedway racing as the field is closer and closer it’s harder and harder to pass. How do you cycle yourself ahead of the pack? Well, it’s pretty obvious what the answer was last week. It was where only a couple of teams were doing it, but now it’s all of the teams doing it. How do you fix it? I don’t know if there is a fix besides doing something to eliminate stage cautions or something like that, like we tried at the road courses, or just adding more stages, which I don’t know if I really want that. I don’t know what the fix is. I do think it adds a different storyline for sure. There was that first stage where we were going so slow that everyone behind us was about to be able to bridge it to where they didn’t have to pit and at that point we took off and left. To me it was like the Tour de France is what it felt like to me. Everyone was in this peloton and a couple of runners take off and you’re like, ‘What are they doing? Why are they doing that?’ Trying to drag the pack along and get them up to speed and then everybody did kind of get up to speed after that. It’s a different strategy. It’s interesting. It’s a different way of racing. It’s still a race. It’s still part of the race it’s just a different way of doing it and it’s up to everybody in this room to really educate the fans on what this next step is and why we’re doing it. As much as we want to say we want to run 100 percent all the time, it’s all well and good, but there’s also just a strategy race that sometimes is pretty interesting.”

FROM A STRATEGY PERSPECTIVE IS IT BETTER TO BE LEADING OR BE A LITTLE FURTHER BACK? “It’s a little different here. You’ve got to look at it that the further back you are the more fuel you can save, but the less control you have. So you can’t control the speed of the pack anymore, so you’re kind of at the mercy of what’s going on in front of you. You’re in a little bit more of a danger spot at that point of the race. I’m gonna choose more towards the front, maybe not the leader, but towards the front. Sometimes you are where you are and there’s not much shuffling. A few laps after the restart it was kind of like this is where everyone settled in and they were content with what they were doing, so that can continue here, maybe. It’s not as wide of a racetrack. It’s a little harder to gain track position. It takes a little longer to move through the field. You see some restarts last week where if you went for it, you could go from the back to the front really quick if everyone is saving fuel and you can kind of catch them off-guard a little bit, but I don’t know if that happens as much here.”

DO YOU AS A DRIVER WANT TO BE ABLE TO CONTROL YOUR OWN RACE? “I don’t know if you ever do completely. It’s still a team sport. We talk about that all the time. I’m not just gonna go pull my own strategy out at any track and say it’s the right one. Those guys have way more data in front of them than what I have. I have some interesting things around me and things that they can’t see, but they also have a lot of things that I can’t see and the best thing we can do is communicate and be on the same page together. For the driver to just go rogue and do whatever he wants, I don’t know if that’s quite the good call. I don’t know if it’s gonna work out every time.”

COLEMAN MENTIONED BRAD A LOT LAST WEEK IN THE CLOSING LAPS. WAS THAT PART OF YOUR STRATEGY TO BE WITH HIM? HOW DO YOU WEIGH GETTING THE BEST RESULT FOR YOURSELF? “There were points that I could have left Brad to go block another lane and you can probably debate this either way on what the right thing to do is there, but I felt like it was too early in the race to bail on him. I know there was like eight to go and he ended up bailing on me anyway, but I had my teammate behind that with Blaney and that’s one I can trust. So, I’d rather be sitting second in line behind Ross with Blaney behind me with eight to go. I feel like I have a better chance at that point because I have some loyalty behind me. The last lap, maybe things change. The moves you make the decisions you make have to change, but with eight to go it’s a long way to go in the race. If you lose your help at that point, you’re on your own. I’ve been on my own at the end of these races before and if they gang up on you, you’re a sitting duck. You’ve got nothing. So, I was being patient and just waiting. I knew eventually Ross was gonna miss a block and I was gonna slip him again. It already happened once towards the end of the race, so it was gonna happen again. I was just being patient and unfortunately got wrecked before we could really see things through.”

FORDS DOMINATED QUALIFYING HERE LAST YEAR. WITH THIS NEW MUSTANG CAN THE SAME THING HAPPEN THIS TIME? “I’d like to think so. That’s the thing these days with no practice you go straight into qualifying. I don’t know, but I’d say all signs are showing good for qualifying today considering what we did last year here and what happened in Daytona, but you never know. Speeds should be fast though and we should be. It’s a lot different here, though. Everybody trims their cars differently and looks for different things, so it could be a little different.”

CAN YOU TELL HOW GOOD THIS MUSTANG IS GOING TO BE? “It’s still early to tell, but so far, so good.”

DOES YOUR APPROACH TO THIS RACE CHANGE SINCE IT’S NOW A PLAYOFF RACE IN THE FALL? “No. Our approach is the same. It doesn’t really change. The goal is to win, whether it’s a playoff race later or one coming up to it, or is not in the playoffs at all. It doesn’t really matter. Our approach is the same and our preparation is the same.”

CAN YOU GIVE A SENSE OF WHAT YOU LEARN AND PICK UP AS A TEAM AND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR WHEN THE SERIES GOES TO VEGAS AND PHOENIX? “The season starts when the green flag drops in Daytona. I would even argue sometimes it starts at the Clash. It’s a race and I kind of look at that as the beginning. As far as knowing what you have in your car, to answer the question of what do you think of the new Dark Horse Mustang, I can’t answer it completely yet. So far, all signs are showing great, but we don’t know that until we get to Vegas and Phoenix and Bristol and kind of see where we’re at from a speed perspective, but as far as the season started, yeah, they’re giving points out, they’re giving trophies out, and they’re giving money out, so we better go get it. It doesn’t really matter all the other stuff. It’s interesting with two speedways to start. That does change the game some, but there’s still the execution. The team is still here. Everybody is here. There’s a lot going on still.”

Ford Performance PR