Sunday, Mar 26

Ford Performance NASCAR: Logano Striving To Continue Consistency as Playoffs Begin

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang – WHEN DOES YOUR PLAYOFF ATTITUDE KICK IN?  “I think there’s a balance in there somewhere.  I’d say the last three or four weeks before the playoffs start is when I feel like you’ve got to start putting everything together.  Before that, don’t get me wrong, you’re out there trying to win, you’re trying to get every point because every point is really gonna matter all season long, but it seems like there’s a point with three or four weeks to go before the playoffs where the intensity ratchets up a little bit and you are more and more concerned about any weakness that could be shown on your race team.  So, I think you kind of start getting that way a little sooner than Daytona, but I always say you’ve got to find a fifth gear.  Now we have five gears in our cars, so you’ve got to find a sixth gear now and you’ve got to keep looking for that little bit.  Find that one percent.  Well, where is it?  What’s the difference and those little things when it comes to playoff time in sports.”

DARLINGTON IS SO OLD SCHOOL.  WHAT DO YOU FEEL LIKE WHEN YOU DRIVE INTO THIS AREA?  “I love it and it really fits the racetrack itself.  I mean, this is the most challenging racetrack that we go to, hands down.  Everybody would probably agree with that.  As a driver, qualifying like these Xfinity guys are right now, it’s intense all the way around here and then you put 500 miles in the heat and add a little bit of pressure with what they call the playoffs on top of that, it’s a tough weekend for sure, but that’s what makes it so special.  When you are able to achieve something that was a big challenge for everybody it means more, and then I feel like when you come to Darlington that’s why every driver wants to say they won the Southern 500 because it’s hard.  The history and all that is special, too.  You want to have your name on that list with all that, but, to me, it’s deeper than just the history, it’s the fact that it’s just really hard and that’s what means so much about this race.”

YOU MAY RACE A PENSKE TEAMMATE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP, BUT AT THIS POINT IS THERE ANY COMFORT HAVING SO MANY TEAMMATES INVOLVED?  “It’s nice to accomplish that.  We have all three of our cars in there.  That’s a special thing.  Does it change much?  Not really.  It doesn’t change for us as the 22 car that much.  It’s nice to have more chances at a championship for Team Penske from a global view, but when you zoom into what I have to do behind the wheel or what my direct team has to do – pit crew and those type of things to make sure that we’re in the Championship 4 when we get to Phoenix – I don’t think it changes much depending on how many cars your team has in at that moment.”

INCONSISTENCY HAS BEEN A THEME THIS YEAR.  WHAT IS YOUR THOUGHT ON THE PLAYOFFS AND EVERYBODY’S ISSUE WITH THAT?  “This is the most close playoff battle we’ve had coming into the playoffs.  When you look at where everybody is with points coming in, everyone’s got wins.  Usually, there are drivers that come in with zero playoff points.  Now, you’ve got some with wins, stage wins, some regular season points that switched over, so it’s pretty close and you look at the way it’s all seeded, I don’t think we’ve ever had it this close before and that’s because of the inconsistency.  We finished second in regular season points and I’m not sure we had a second place season in other years.  It just shows how inconsistent everybody has been, and it’s not a surprise.  We kind of knew this would happen at the beginning of the year.  When you have a brand new car the cycles happen quicker, whereas typically before a team will figure it out and know they’ve got two-and-a-half to three months of kicking butt before the next cycle comes.  Now it’s like three weeks before the next team is the dominant team.  We’ve seen this cycle happen four or five times already this year, so you just have to hope you cycle to the front when it matters the most.”

DOES THE NEXT GEN DURABILITY ALLOW YOU TO BE MORE PHYSICAL ON TRACK – MAYBE GET CLOSER TO THE WALL HERE?  “It depends on what parts of the car you’re talking about.  There are some things that are definitely more durable for sure.  There are some things that may not be, but the body, obviously, being a composite body, it seems to bounce back pretty good if you just pancake the side of it.  A little brush here and there is not the end of the world.  The right side of the car is not sticking way out in the wind like it used to and when you push that back it’s not hurting you as much as it used to.  But that being said, there is a limitation to it.  I’d say we’ve seen more aggressive racing this year because the cars are more durable, for sure.”

HOW DIFFERENT IS YOUR CAR FROM THE SPRING AND HOW DIFFERENT IS YOUR APPROACH TO THE WAY TO DRIVE THESE THINGS THAN IT WAS A FEW MONTHS AGO?  “We changed some things for sure.  We changed things to our cars and we have to.  What worked here in the spring is probably not gonna work in the fall and there are a lot of other things that have changed on the car itself, but also the weather is different and your competitors are always trying to find a little more, so we’ve changed a fair amount to our car.  Hopefully, it’s all better.  We think they are.  We’ve convinced ourselves they are, but time will tell here in a second when we get out there.”

ARE YOU A LITTLE MORE APT TO BE CONSERVATIVE IN HOW YOU RACE THIS ROUND COMPARED TO OTHER ROUNDS BECAUSE OF THE GAP YOU HAVE ON THE GUYS NEAR THE CUTLINE?  “I try not to be conservative because I think that’s when you kind of get in trouble a lot of times.  Now, smart.  I try to be smart about the risks that I take because this first round, I mean you’ve got to be 12th at the end of it.  It’s still a challenge, don’t get me wrong, but it’s easier than being eighth or fourth as these rounds go on.  You can afford to be a little smarter and get through these races because, really, the first three are just about not screwing up.  It’s been like that for years.  Just don’t screw it up and you usually can run good enough if you’re in the top 10 to get through, so that’s kind of the main goal.  If you can win, though, you’ve got to take those playoff points because that helps you all year long the rest of the way.”

DISTRACTIONS IN THE PLAYOFFS.  DO YOU MINIMIZE EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES WITH FAMILY, FRIENDS, ETC?  “No, the same stuff.  I don’t change much.  I’m wide-open every day from the moment I wake up to the second I go to sleep.  That part doesn’t change.  That’s just how I am.  If you give me too much time to think about things, it’s probably not a good thing.  I’ll overthink my way right out of this room.  It’s important for me to stay busy and continue my routine.  I’m a routine person.  I do things the same all the time and being busy is one big piece of that, so I don’t change it.  When we were racing in the Championship 4, I always to my appearance on Sunday morning like I typically do.  I don’t take those away.  Those things continue for me.”

BECAUSE OF THE INCONSISTENCY HOW HAS THAT CHALLENGED YOU THIS SEASON?  “I feel like I’ve been through up and down seasons plenty, and it’s all about winning the most important ones.  There has been times that I felt like we should win the championship.  We had the most wins on the season, were in great shape and been consistent, scored a ton of points and we don’t make it to the Championship 4.  And then I look at our championship year and it was an average year until we won two of the most important races of the year and the next thing you know we won the championship.  You’ve got to just keep moving forward and something bad happens, ‘OK, learn from it, move on and forget about it.’  After you dissect it and learn from your mistakes you’ve got to just keep going.  You’ve got to keep out the windshield and this year is probably more so like that than ever because there are more ups and downs than ever, but you’ve got to ride the waves.  I ride the waves like crazy and some people say they don’t, but I ride the ups and the downs a fair amount and, like I said, you learn from them and you just keep going out the windshield.”

THE RACE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP PREMIERED THIS WEEK ON USA AND YOU WERE A PART OF IT.  WHEN DID THE ‘MY HOT ASS WIFE’ WAS MADE?  “The day we got married (laughing) or probably fairly soon after.  The contact for my wife has been My Hot Ass Wife for the last seven or eight years we’ve been married and that’s just what it is.  It’s funny now because I use Siri to call her and I say, ‘Call my Hot Ass Wife’ and then my kids in the back say, ‘Are you calling mommy?’  It’s pretty funny.  I feel like somewhere in there that should be changed, but I like it and now it’s kind of funny.  Now we’re just playing off it.  I didn’t think twice about it being on my screen when they were shooting, which just goes to show how real everything is.  They did a really good job at taking what life is, like what is our life as far as how we prepare for races from a work standpoint, but also at home.  They didn’t really edit much out of it.  I think it was pretty good and entertaining.  When I watched it, not just my stuff, but other competitors and seeing how they live and all that.  That’s kind of cool to see.  I liked it.  I enjoyed it.  I’m not sure I want cameras around me 24/7 all the time, but we didn’t change the way we live.  You know how it is with kids, they’re gonna say what they want to say no matter if there’s a camera around or not and things happen.  No matter what, they’re still kids, so it really showed our life in a real way and an authentic way and I think that’s what the fans wanted to see.  And what they’re gonna see is that we’re all normal people.  I’m no different than anybody else I just have a cool job that people watch on TV, but life is still the same.”

HOW HAS THE NEW CAR CHANGED HOW YOU APPROACH KANSAS SPEEDWAY?  “I’m not sure.  I mean it definitely changes the way you race there like it has everywhere else – like it has at Vegas, like it has here.  Mainly restarts and stuff and which lanes are stronger and how that happens and what lanes you want to choose for those reasons.  All of those things are different this year than what it’s been the last few years with the old car, so that part is different.  How you work dirty air in general just after restarts is different, but it’s been that way since we started going to mile-and-a-halves and figuring that stuff out.  Nothing really crazy outside the box besides the stuff that’s just different about the car everywhere.”

HOW IS YOUR CONFIDENCE KNOWING YOU’VE WON AT NINE OF THE 10 PLAYOFF TRACKS?  “I guess I never really thought of that.  That’s cool.  That helps.  Thanks for the confidence.  It’s nice to know that you can win at any track that comes your way and even I guess the Roval is the one I haven’t won at and that really hasn’t been that bad of a track for me.  Like I said the other day, our team is really firing on all eight right now.  We’re in as good a shape as we’ve ever been as a team executing races and, like you said, if we just find a little bit more speed, there’s gonna be a lot of wins stacking up if we keep doing what we’re doing the last six weeks.  I feel great about it.  Even if we don’t have more speed in our cars, what we’ve done the last six races is good enough to get in the Championship 4, so we’ve just got to continue doing that.”

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