Friday, Sep 22

Ford Performance NASCAR: Briscoe and Logano Atlanta 2 Transcripts

CHASE BRISCOE, No. 14 Magical Vacation Planner Ford Mustang – BOBBY ALLISON COULD DRIVE ANYTHING, WHICH IS SORT OF WHAT YOU HAVE DONE IN YOUR CAREER.  DID YOU EVER FOLLOW HIM OR READ ABOUT HIM?  “I would definitely say that he was not racing when I was growing up, but I think anybody that’s in this sport knows who Bobby Allison was and what he meant to the sport, especially just the state of Alabama, which is right next door to us here.  For me, I appreciate the comparison.  I don’t think I necessarily even can be in the same sentence as Bobby Allison, but from a comparison to drive all kinds of different things, Bobby and so many of those guys back in the day for sure would just go literally drive anything and everything they could.  I feel like there’s definitely not as many of those guys today, which is unfortunate, but I love going and racing as many things as I possibly can.  I’m going to race the sprint car next week when we’re in New Hampshire, and trying to add more dirt races – just trying to race like I love to do.  I love getting to do what I get to do on Sundays, but also want to try and go run other things.  For one, it makes me better, but, two, that’s what I love to do.  That’s kind of my first love.  I appreciate the kind words, but I think Bobby Allison is a name that will be remembered forever, not only for being able to drive all kinds of different things, but being able to drive all kinds of different things really, really fast.”


HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE MENTAL GRIND OF RACING EVERY WEEK?  “It’s hard.  Truthfully, these past two to three months have probably been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to experience in my career just with the struggles on the racetrack, but I think that’s where you just have to stay grounded and have a support system behind you with me and my family and close friends and people that believe in me.  But also your faith.  I think you have to be really grounded in that and realize that your meaning is not where you finish on Sunday, so it’s definitely a challenge.  When things are going good it’s not as big of a challenge, but when you’re running grind I feel like that grind is 10 times worse and 10 times harder to deal with.  I feel like this sport is really hard.  Your stock is always kind of based on the week before and a couple weeks before.  You look at Jimmie Johnson, a guy that won seven championships, and at the end of his career he struggled and people questioned if it was him.  Jimmie Johnson didn’t forget how to drive a race car.  Even for me right now, knowing that I’ve been on this rough patch the last two or three months, I’ve just got to remember why I’m here and how I got here and just try to stay confident in that.”


THE FORDS IN THE SPRING WERE THE STRONGEST BY FAR.  DO YOU COME HERE LOOKING AT THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE SOMETHING GOOD HAPPEN?  “Yeah, I would say all year long when we’ve gone to superspeedway type races the Fords have had really good speed for whatever reason.  I think it’s no secret that we’ve kind of struggled, at least for the 14 team, but even Fords as a whole a little bit more on the mile-and-a-halves than we would probably like to, so I think me and my crew chief this weekend were sitting down talking about how ‘yeah, we need to go win a race,’ but truthfully we haven’t even had the speed to do that.  We need to really focus everything we have on Daytona and Atlanta because that is the equalizer, so I’ll be extremely aggressive tomorrow just knowing that, but hopefully our car can be really fast.  The biggest thing for us in the spring is we had a really fast car, we just didn’t have the handling to go with it, so with the hotter temperatures and things like that, hopefully we can have the handling underneath our car.  It’s definitely gonna be a wild card race and we need to try and win the race, but, for us right now with all the change that’s happened the last two or three weeks, we’re just trying to reestablish what baseline is and build that foundation.  Even if we can’t win, we need to learn as much as we can in this limited amount of time we’ve got, how many weeks we’ve got left in the season, but with how all the changes happened, we’re really trying to get focused and prepare for next year, so every week is kind of a building block for that.  I would love to win the race tomorrow.  That’s what I’m gonna try to do, but if not, then for sure we need to try and take something away from this weekend that we can apply next weekend and going forward.”


DOES IT FEEL LIKE ANYTHING HAS BEEN DIFFERENT LATELY, JUST TRYING TO LOOK FOR SOMETHING WITHIN THE TEAM?  “Yeah, for sure.  I think the dynamic of our team has changed quite a bit – the communication and things like that.  I know that I’ve been held way more accountable over the last two or three weeks, for sure, and I do think that even last week, just from Nashville to going to Chicago, you know Chicago I thought we ran a really good race, the strategy just didn’t really work out for us and even from a speed standpoint.  In practice, were truthfully probably a 25th to 30th place car.  We were able to qualify 15th and then in the race I think our average lap speed was like the sixth or seventh fastest and with the strategy and things we just weren’t fast enough to drive farther forward than where we kind of restarted, so I do think that we’ve seen that light at the other end of the tunnel and it’s just a matter of getting there.  It’s not gonna be a quick process.  It’s gonna take a long time.  That’s where you just have to keep believing and knowing what we’re working towards, and I do think that it’s gonna be really good on the other end of it, it’s just a matter of getting to the end point.”


HOW DO YOU THINK ATLANTA HAS MATURED AS A SUPERSPEEDWAY?  “I feel like it’s kind of made a name for itself, like whenever it was the old track I think all of the drivers loved it.  The fans probably not so much, but I think now it’s kind of the opposite.  The drivers probably don’t love coming here as much just because of what the race is and knowing that when you wake up tomorrow you’re either gonna have a good day or you’re gonna be really sore on Monday, but from a fan standpoint I think it’s been a huge change.  I mean, just look at the amount of people in the infield, the people in the stands that are gonna be here tomorrow and even that were here in the spring.  When we had the old track we didn’t have this many people here, so obviously it was the right direction.  I don’t think we need to switch all of the mile-and-a-halves over to this, but I do think Atlanta has come into its own as what it is now, and even from the driver side it’s a huge challenge coming here.  Mentally, it’s the most draining place we go to all year.  It’s a Daytona, Talladega, but everything is happening twice as quick just because it’s a mile shorter, the corners are tighter and you still have handling, where when you go to Daytona and Talladega you don’t necessarily have the balance issues.  Here, it’s just a hybrid racetrack that’s kind of unlike anything else on the schedule, so it’s a huge challenge, but I definitely think it has matured into this new type of racing that we see with this Next Gen car and especially at a track like this.”


YOU’VE RUN WELL AT FLATTER ONE MILE TRACKS WITH THE WIN AT PHOENIX AND FINISHED 15TH AT LOUDON LAST YEAR.  HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING BACK TO LOUDON?  “Personally, I feel like that’s by far my wors racetrack, so I was surprised you said that.  For us, the short tracks have definitely been really, really good, but I would say statistically and just even as a driver, Loudon is the one track that just really confuses me.  For whatever reason I cannot figure out what I need there, but I did feel like last year we were able to lead laps.  We ran top 15, but I still have a lot to learn when I go to Loudon, so I’m really gonna rely on my teammates there next weekend.  Kevin is extremely good there.  Aric has obviously won a Cup race there and Ryan, it’s like his home track, so I’ll use those guys quite a bit next week just trying to figure out what I can do.  Even looking back at notes and video.  I’ll probably study a lot of Christopher Bell stuff going into next week.  I feel like he’s incredibly good there, so I just have to get better there, but as a short track that’s definitely one where it’s circled.  These are the races that if we’re gonna win before the playoffs, these are ones that we can go and compete at, so hopefully we can have a good weekend this weekend but also next week.”



JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang – HOW INSTRUMENTAL WAS THE THURSDAY THUNDER PROGRAM HERE FOR YOU?  “There are always so many memories that come back here and obviously being able to make some more memories here in the spring with a win and how special that was to celebrate in victory lane with the Cup car.  My dad was here, so it was a pretty special thing, but this track  I always remember the first time we were all in here we were just visiting and we met Ken Ragan.  We got a Bandolero and raced two nights later with it and I spent so much time, I’ve lived here for years and knowing David and Reed and everyone is still in the sport.  I think that’s one of the things I noticed so much with kids racing these days is that they stay in the sport.  Even if they don’t drive, they’re still around one way or another, whether it’s in Legends cars, or I have a lot of friends that started in quarter midgets in Connecticut with me and they’re still in the sport.  It’s just kind of cool to kind of see all of that come around and the passion that has grown from kids that want to be around race cars.  It’s really cool.  I still see that a lot with my son now.  He’s only five, so we’re not really racing anything yet, but we go out to the track and play around and see the other kids there.  We get to talk to them and all that, so it’s pretty cool.  What I realized already is that my kid doesn’t listen to me and all of the other kids do listen to me with where to go on the racetrack, so go figure.  I already know nothing (laughing).”


RACING AT NIGHT HERE IN JULY.  HOW RELIEVED OR GLAD ARE DRIVERS THAT IT’S AT NIGHT?  “I think the fans should be just as relieved as the drivers are.  I mean, it’s hot.  To ask somebody to be sitting up in those grandstands in the middle of the summer with the sun baking on them, that’s just hard to ask people to do.  I’m not gonna do that, I can tell you that much.  Forget bringing kids out to a race or something like that where you get out there and get sunburn, so this is much better to be able to do that at night.  It’s a little bit cooler.  The cars always look cool at night anyway.  It’s always kind of a different feel with night races and things like that, so I think it’s a great play.  I’m glad we’re doing it.”


ARE YOU EXPECTING THE SAME LEVEL OF GRIP AS PREVIOUS RACES HERE?  “It should have less than what we raced in the spring, even though that was the daytime it was like 40 degrees outside.  It’s still gonna be 80 degrees or so when the sun is down, so the track temp is still gonna be quite a bit warmer than what we raced last time, which means there should be less grip out there.  Qualifying here in a few minutes it will probably be pretty slick out there I would assume, so it’s hard to say how much the track is changing because when we got here with the Next Gen car that was the first time we were out there with these things and it was like, ‘Ah,’ and then our cars got better.  DId the track get better or the cars got better?  Now, we’re still making our cars better every time we come here as the track is probably giving up some grip, but I think the track temperature is gonna be the biggest difference here.”


HOW BIG WAS YOUR WIN HERE IN THE SPRING AND WHAT THAT MEANS?  “Absolutely.  You assume the win is big and it gets you in the playoffs and all that, but you said it – you fast forward however many races it's been since we’ve been here and it’s bigger than what we thought it would be.  Unfortunately, you hope it’s not.  You wish it was the other way around, but we’re 10th in points right now and we’d have been probably in a decent spot to make the playoffs I’m sure still, but it’s a lot more comfortable when you have a win and you know that you’re in the playoffs and you can focus in on some other things and trying to grow your team and get smarter and all those things.  We’re not where we need to be.  That’s for sure.  There’s a lot of hard work going on right now to try to close the gap and we keep hustling and trying and swinging the bat and doing everything we possibly can do.  There are only so many things you can do, but work in the areas we’re allowed to and keep trying to find something.”


THE LAST THREE TRACKS WE’VE BEEN AT WEREN’T ON THE SCHEDULE OR WEREN’T THE CONFIGURATION THEY ARE TODAY.  HOW CHALLENGING HAVE THINGS GOTTEN FOR DRIVERS AS THE SCHEDULE HAS EVOLVED?  “It’s definitely gotten harder because you have a car that we don’t have as well developed as the old car.  We’re going to tracks that are brand new and you’re not giving us any practice.  Even when you have 50 minutes of practice, it’s like, ‘OK, you’re not giving us practice in comparison to what it used to be.’  It’s not even close and really to be able to tune on your car and those type of things.  At Nashville, we got to tune on our cars some, but last week you don’t.  You kind of got what you got for the most part, so it’s definitely a lot harder to close the gap, whether you’re off from the driver or off on the car.  Either way, it’s really hard to close the gap because you just don’t get the laps or you don’t get the adjustments you want to make to your car to try to make it better or to really A-B something to see if it was better or not.  You’ve got to come back 15 weeks later and change something and compare it to something that was 40 degrees outside.  ‘Tell me if that was better.’  ‘Yeah, right.’  There are way too many variables, so that’s the situation all of these teams are in.”


HOW DO YOU ASSESS WHAT TEAMS ARE RUNNING GOOD AND WHO WILL BE TOUGH IN THE PLAYOFFS?  “It was similar to this last year.  I’d say if anything it’s easier this year to tell who is gonna be the hitters right now, and a lot of it is the same guys it’s always been.  You go back and look at it and the best teams, the best drivers are usually up front.  Every now and again you may have something that kind of mixes it up or you may have a team that’s fallen off the bandwagon for a little bit, but they usually figure it out.  I don’t see it being much different.  Last year was almost harder to tell because there were so many winners and all that.  This year, it seems like it’s starting to see more common guys up front, but the thing now is that the whole team matters.  Before, if you had a fast car you can get away with a slow pit stop, you can get away with a bad restart every now and again because you’re car is fast enough to make it up and the top 10 looked almost the same every time.  Now, boy, if you’re a fifth-place car, but you have 15th-place pit stops all day, you’re gonna finish 12th.  It’s just what it is, so it’s a lot different than it used to be.  It’s not as easy to make up the spots because the field is closer.”


ARE THERE ANY TRACKS OR MARKETS YOU’D LIKE TO SEE NASCAR GO TO NEXT?  “I can’t say I’ve thought about it a whole bunch.  I do like that we’re branching out and that weekend, really, when you think of all the stuff that as an industry we had to go through throughout preparing for it, the track itself, the weather that came on us at the last second, there was still a ton of people there and it was a pretty good race.  I guess, to me, after seeing that, let's go anywhere.  It seems to be fine.  We have a system that works pretty well.  Yes, are there things we could adjust to the racetrack to make it a little better and a little safer?  Yes, absolutely, but I do think overall for the first time out on a street course in the rain wasn’t that bad.”


COULD AN OVERSEAS RACE TAKE PLACE AND WOULD YOU BE IN FAVOR?  “I think we can.  Listen, you tell racers you’re going racing somewhere, they’ll figure out how to get stuff there.  Racers are a different breed.  I feel like you can put these people in any industry and they’re gonna figure out ways to succeed.  The deadline is here.  It’s not like you’re building a house and you say it’s gonna be a done at a certain time and three months later it can be done then and it’s OK.  No, you have to be racing this weekend.  You have to have the car ready.  They figure out a way to make it happen.  It’s gonna be like that.  If that’s the situation, we’ll figure out how to do it.  I think it would be great to go overseas.  I’d be interested in it.  I think it would be kind of fun.  From the few times that I have gone to other places I do know a lot of people have interest in our sport because they never get to see it.  If you never get the chance to see something, when it comes to your country it’s gonna be a big deal.  It’s a big event.  I believe it would be a huge event if we went somewhere to a different country that was far away from here somewhere.”


HOW IMPORTANT IS PHYSICAL FITNESS TO YOU?  “I think it’s important for a few reasons.  One, you want to try to compete or train in the same conditions you’re competing in, so you want to be where it’s hot.  It’s really hot in our race cars right now.  Your heart rate is elevated at a pretty high level the whole time.  You mentally have to be there.  I think the more physically fit you are and ready for those situations, the more mentally engaged you can be.  Just like any other sport, it’s a mental game and if you can’t physically be there, you’re mentally off in some La-La Land and you’re gonna miss the details and you’re gonna lose.  I believe physically being there, being focused in and being able to really accomplish the task the whole race is important because our most important moments are at the end of the race.  That’s when the pay window opens up and you have to be the most ready at that moment.”


YOU’VE WON TWICE AT YOUR HOME TRACK.  IS THERE ANY BETTER FEELING THAN THAT OTHER THAN WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP?  “Outside of Daytona, I would assume Indy and championship race or getting yourself in the Championship 4 somehow in some big moment, that is the biggest win you can have outside of those, for sure.  Winning at your home track is special for a lot of reasons.  There are a lot of memories there, for one, but it’s the people that are there with you more times than not.  It’s like your family is there, your friends are there, people that don’t get to go to every single race and you celebrate with them in victory lane.  That is just the coolest moment and it’s probably different for others, I don’t know.  For me, Loudon is always going to hold a special place in my heart for that reason.  Like I always say, I watched  my first Cup race there.  I started my first Cup race there.  We won our first Cup race there.  It’s a special place for me and winning there is definitely fourth or fifth on the list of tracks you want to win at.  It’s probably not like that for everyone at Loudon, but for me it definitely is.”


HAS IT BECOME INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT TO PASS WITH THIS CAR THERE?  “I don’t know if it’s a whole bunch different than the old car was.  It’s hard to pass.  The bottom line is it’s hard to pass.  It’s racing, though.  That’s what racing is, it’s challenging and as our cars just run the same speed it’s gonna be hard to pass.  We used to have cars that were more separated, but now everybody is within a couple tenths of a second and dirty air is gonna be more than that.  It’s gonna slow you down more than two-tenths of a second so you’re gonna get stuck.  That just means qualifying and execution of the race, the good thing is tires fall off a fair amount at Loudon, so there is opportunity for strategy there with some things.  We’ve seen that track get fairly wide where some cars can run on the yellow line or even below it.  Some run the third lane, that third seam way up there.  It’s gotten pretty racy, but it’s still a challenging place to pass, but everywhere is.”

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