Ford Performance NASCAR: Joey Logano Talks Bristol Night Race

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang – THIS WILL BE YOUR 500TH CUP START.  WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE THAT MANY AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE RACE? “Some days it feels like it’s been a long 500 starts and others it feels like it goes by really quickly and kind of think it’s like probably having kids. Sometimes the days are long, but the years are short and it’s probably similar in this sport.  It goes by in a blink of an eye at times and you kind of go back and it’s easy to kind of reminisce in the past a little bit and think about your first start in Loudon or that first pole here in Bristol and those type things and fast forward 14 years or so and here I am making my 500th start. I remember watching Truex and Kenseth and those guys start their 500th start and thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s a lot of starts. I don’t know if I’ll ever get that far into it.’ Now it feels like it really didn’t take that long. It’s a great accomplishment to say that you’ve had that many starts and it’s special, but it’s still always about the wins to me. I want to win a lot, but to be able to accomplish 500 starts at 32 years old is pretty cool.”


ANY GOAL FOR STARTS, LIKE 1000?  “I’m already losing my hair. I don’t know if I’ll make it. I don’t have a start goal. I’ve looked into the Iron Man award. It’s definitely possible for me if I can keep consistently making the starts that I’ve been able to do. I’m probably one of the only ones that can really achieve that, so it’s there. I don’t know how much that means to me. I know where I am for the foreseeable future right now and I’m happy where I’m at. I just re-signed with Penske and Shell and I’m obviously in a great spot there, but you fast forward a few years down the road and who knows? You can’t call life. You don’t know where you’re gonna be and how competitive you’ll be. I know one thing, if I can’t win and I feel like I am holding back a race team, I probably don’t belong there anymore. When I feel like I’m not contributing to performance in our race team, that’s gonna be my cue. But right now, obviously, I still can and I have no thoughts of retirement anytime soon, so we’ll see. As we get closer, if I’m a year away maybe I’ll do it, I don’t know. It depends on life – your family and all that too.”


WHY DO YOU THINK WE’VE SEEN A RASH OF DRIVER SIGNINGS RECENTLY?  “Look at who has signed. Kyle Larson is a great race car driver. I think Rick is gonna be smart enough to try and lock him in as long as he can. If it’s something that’s working, you want to just continue to do it. I can’t speak for other race teams besides our own and that was part of my decision-making process as well and Roger’s as well. We’re in a great spot. We can win races. We can contend for championships every year. We’ve got a great partner in Shell that’s been on this race car for a long, long time and the partnership works on both sides. It’s just a perfect fit, so you don’t want to change it. I don’t want to start all over and go again. Now, if it wasn’t going great, then you’d probably start to look around or shop around, but I think when you look at the guys that are out there winning right now, it’s hard to just jump ship if everything is going well. If you’re able to compete for wins and championships, it’s really hard to just start all over. If you feel like your car is not as good as your talent, then you’re probably starting to look around because you want to win. So it probably just depends on a lot of things, but I think the ones that are re-signing right now are obvious deals that owners and drivers would want to have as a long-term contract.”


AFTER THE TRUCK RACE LAST NIGHT IS THERE ANY CONCERN OF A MARTINSVILLE REPEAT OR ARE OTHER VARIABLES AT HAND?  “There are plenty of variables left in the situation right now. We’ve seen this happen before at Bristol. They put the PJ1 on the bottom. If it’s sprayed no a little too thick, it just becomes the dominant lane. If it’s cool out, it doesn’t really chunk up and take a bunch of rubber down there, which kind of takes the advantage away from the bottom, which forces you to move up and makes the top lane work and then you get a couple lanes working. So it wasn’t quite hot enough to really chunk the rubber up on the bottom. I think it’s kind of hard to say how our race is gonna be yet, especially until we get out there and get a lot of laps going. We have a wider tire than we’ve ever had here at Bristol. We run 500 laps pounding that rubber into the racetrack. I think it’s gonna chunk up eventually and you’re gonna be forced to move up the racetrack. I’m pretty certain about that at some point during the race. It might be 100 laps in. It might be 50 laps in. It might be 300 laps. I don’t know because we haven’t been here with this car yet and to know how it’s gonna be, but I think once you get an Xfinity race out there tonight, I think eventually it’s gonna move up, probably start to touch the top a little bit is my guess. That’s kind of how it’s been in the past. I’m not saying the bottom won’t be the preferred lane, but eventually that PJ1 wears off or it chunks up with rubber and it forces guys to move around. That’s probably what’s gonna happen.”


DO ALL THE QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS CAR AT THIS TRACK MAKE YOUR PREVIOUS SUCCESS HERE A MOOT POINT?  “I don’t know. Bristol is Bristol. Once you have an idea of what it takes to go around this place at least you kind of know the feel and the way the race typically goes and trends that you may see throughout the race. I think a lot of those things will be similar. Now, with the Next Gen car, there are differences – maybe different lines on restarts, maybe the way your balance goes throughout a run. Those things can be different, so it is a bit of a new game. I’ve been saying it all year long. If you’re gonna be a rookie, this is the year to be a rookie because the guys with experience it’s not as big of an advantage as it has been in the past. I’d say continuing that theme will be like that, but it’s still 500 laps and experience helps you run 500 laps. You kind of know how long it can be and what you need to get out of it, but there are a lot of questions that will be answered here once practice starts as well.”


WHAT DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE ABOUT BRISTOL?  “I can’t tell you at all. Like I said, you know it’s gonna be a tough, grueling race. You know there’s gonna be strategy that comes into play at some point if cautions kind of stack on top of each other. You know the rubber build up is gonna be different, whether you have 75-lap green flag runs or 30-lap green flag runs and trying to adjust to that or at least knowing where the track is gonna be. I think that stuff will continue to stay the same.”


PJ1 WAS APPLIED YESTERDAY. IS THERE SMI STILL NEEDS TO DO TO EACH TRACK BECAUSE IT DOESN’T SEEM TO WORK MORE OFTEN THAN NOT?  “I don’t know if I would be so quick to say it doesn’t work more often that not. I don’t believe Bristol needs it, but everyone has a different opinion of what good racing is at Bristol. I thought Bristol was great before it ground the top. I thought it was great racing and everybody thought Bristol was great before they reconfigured it years back when everybody was stuck on the bottom and rooting everyone out of the way. That’s what they did with the PJ1is try to get it to where the only way you can pass someone is rooting them out of the way. Is that good racing? I don’t know. Everyone’s got an opinion and I don’t know who is right, but I think having options to race in different lanes is a good thing, especially with this car. I think that’s a good thing and I’m not sure that the PJ on the bottom really does that and, like I said, the other piece is how wide it is. Is it four feet wide or is it six feet wide? That seems to be a pretty big difference on how dominant the bottom lane is, which is pretty wide out there. You see a whole car is in the PJ, so it’s definitely spread pretty wide right now.”


WHAT DO YOU THINK TYLER REDDICK IS GOING THROUGH AND ARE YOU AWARE OF HIS SITUATION WHEN YOU’RE ON THE TRACK AND WHO HE MIGHT WORK WITH?  “I think with Tyler it’s kind of obvious as far as who he is helping or not. He pushed Austin to a win in Daytona, so he was a great teammate there. I’m also very aware of where he’s going next and he’s got more teammates than anybody out there right now, so he’s in a unique situation for sure. I don’t know. He’s got to make his own decisions out there on what to do, but I’m sure it’s a little awkward for him. Who knows, I guess it will be awkward for next year too. I don’t know how that is all supposed to work, but, like I said, I’ve got to focus on my own stuff this weekend. We’ve got to get our 22 car through, but it’s definitely some interesting silly season type stuff going on out there.”


DOES STRATEGY CHANGE FOR THE GUYS IN THE PLAYOFFS KNOWING THAT THERE MIGHT BE BETTER CHANCES FOR NON-PLAYOFF GUYS TO WIN?  “It definitely is. Imagine if the playoffs started a couple weeks later. Holy cow. What a crazy year, which is what we expected. We expected this year to just be very unpredictable and no one really being able to figure this car out, and it really seems like there are still so many questions and as we come to Bristol for the first time on concrete there is a lot of questions again, so can there be another first time winner? Absolutely. There are a couple drivers that are expected to win every year that haven’t won yet, so you’ve got to think that they’re probably gonna bust off a win at some point, but you just don’t know. I don’t know if it changes the way you go through the playoffs. You’re still focused in on just maximizing the day. If that’s a win or if that’s a fifth, you just have to get the most points you can possibly get and I don’t think that changes from year to year.”


HAS THE NEW CAR MADE IT HARDER TO PEAK LIKE GUYS NORMALLY USED TO DO THE LAST 10 RACES?  “There are only certain areas you can develop and it’s not really many parts on the race car, so it’s smaller and it comes down to setups. We’re all playing with the same deck of cards when we start and it’s just how you play that hand. It varies from track to track and especially coming to Bristol for the first time someone can hit it that’s not really expected to. It’s hard to have just a clear advantage going in to where you can miss your setup a little bit and still be pretty good. That’s how it’s been in the past. If someone just has better cars, more capability in their car, they can miss the setup and still run fifth to 10th. Now, if you miss your setup, you’re probably running 15th to 20th, which it’s just a lot different now and because of that you have different winners because there are more capable cars out there and no one has a clear advantage in a lot of different ways. There are some tracks that certain manufacturers may have advantages over others, but it’s not huge like it used to be. There are teams that might have a little bit of an advantage here and there because they figured something out for a little bit. It just keeps changing. Everyone is trying to figure out not only the setups, but where is the low hanging fruit on this car when you’re developing it at the wind tunnel and those type of things. What can and can’t you do. The rules change as it goes along too here, so it definitely, like I said this before, you used to have teams that were strong for three to four months at a time. Now, it’s three to four weeks at a time, so it seems like that cycle just happens a lot quicker now.”


WAS KANSAS AN EXAMPLE OF THAT FOR YOU?  “I think so. Yeah. Exactly, especially there because that’s one of those racetracks where a fast car goes fast. It’s really hard to make up for not having a fast car at a track like that.”


YOUR NEXT WIN WILL BE NO. 30.  DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE THAT MANY AT THIS POINT IN YOUR CAREER?  “It depends on when you asked me that. My rookie year, I would say I’d have a lot more. By the end of my rookie year I was just hoping I’d have a job. It has changed. You asked me when I first started at Penske that we’d win a championship four or five years later, I probably didn’t see that coming at the time and now I look at it and go, ‘Man, there was a lot of missed opportunities out there.’ There have been some great wins in those 500 starts. There has been a Daytona 500. There have been championships. The Dirt Race here. There have been some cool moments that don’t count as those 29 wins – the Clash and those type of things – but when you hear it like 29 out of 500, it’s kind of like I want a lot more than that.  But when you look at the all-time win list, you’re kind of in contention with a lot of others that have been great in this sport. It’s just hard to win. It’s hard to stack up five or six wins every single year. Not many have done it, so it’s just a tough sport. It’s tough to have multiple wins in a season more than two or three every year. It’s really tough to get that many. You’ve got to have a really strong team to accomplish that.”


HOW MUCH WILL THE ALL-STAR RACE AT TEXAS HELP YOU WHEN YOU GO BACK THERE NEXT WEEK?  “Better than not at all, but it’s gonna be the same for everyone. Everyone had the opportunity to go to Texas. Also, things have changed since we’ve been there as the car has developed and changed all those things. It’s gonna be different than where we were last time. Weather will be different. Resin and how it’s applied – those type of things – will be different. Indy Car has raced there since we’ve been there, so there is a lot of change that can happen, but this next round is a pretty tough one. When you think of Texas being maybe the most normal race and then you have the Roval and Talladega on top of that, it’s definitely gonna be a unique round for sure as it always has been.”


DO YOU THINK WE’LL SEE A BETTER RACE AT TEXAS AS OPPOSED TO AN ALL-STAR RACE THIS TIME AROUND?  “Maybe. Like I said, a lot depends on the track temperature it seems like a lot of times and what kind of fall off is in the car. Is the bottom lane worked on in one and two to where you can go down there and make passes or not? That will be one of the trickier things to kind of see when we get there. I can’t call the future on that one. I’m not sure.”


THERE IS ALWAYS SO MUCH BUILDUP FOR THIS RACE. IS THIS A DRAMA-FILLED RACE OR WILL IT BE MORE CONSERVATIVE?  “What are people expecting? You look at Bristol the last few years it has been wild finishes and there is a lot on the line and there’s a lot of points and things like that where drivers have to be pretty smart, but I think maybe the expectations for Bristol is different than other racetracks. I think Bristol has the most entertaining racing of any track we go to, period. I don’t think there’s a track better than this one, but I also think everyone’s expectations are unrealistic of what things you can possibly get out of it. Whether it’s dirt or concrete, it’s been pretty intense lately and the end of the races have ended in fireworks in a lot of them. So, I don’t know what you would be expecting anything different than that. It’s been great.”


IS IT DUE TO THE BUILDUP?  “Yeah, I think it might be unrealistic or people were expecting something different, but this is the best racetrack we come to.”

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