THE MODERATOR: We are here with the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion and driver of the No. 22 ‑‑
JOEY LOGANO: Damn right you are.
THE MODERATOR: Shell‑Pennzoil Ford, and that’s Joey Logano. Joey, congratulations. Has it sunk in yet? Talk about ‑‑
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I think it has. It’s just ‑‑ man, it’s incredible what goes through your mind and how it feels to be able to cross the start‑finish line. You’re able to take the lead and you know there’s quite a few laps left, and as you get closer, five laps, four laps, you’re counting them down, like ugh, you just want to take the white flag to where you know the caution comes out, we got it.
It really felt a lot like my first win in Pocono and kind of that same thing because how big that first win was to me, and once you get that first win, your goal changes to winning a championship. I remember those laps there, and my foot was shaking on the way down to put the throttle down, and my foot kept shaking, and it started doing that again, like oh, my goodness, it’s been so hard and such a long road to get here and been so close and had that feeling of defeat and man, it stings. It hurts a lot. The last thing you want is to have that feeling again.
But I felt so confident going into this week that we were the car to beat. I felt like after winning Martinsville, it put us in the spot to really focus in on this race, and we did. We built a great race car, you know, that was able to be good on the short runs. It wasn’t a long‑run race car, that’s for sure, but a 20‑lap car, it was that for sure. My race team, I wasn’t worried about them at all, and I knew I just had to do my job and everyone was going to do their job and everything was going to be fine. Either way, everything was going to be fine. But I felt confident and relaxed that today was going to be a good day.
- I know it’s got to be a great feeling, but did Martinsville at all flash back to you in those laps when you and Truex were running pretty close together? I know there was a little bit of contact. Do you have time to think of that kind of stuff that oh, maybe he could end this right here, or did you guys work it out well enough that you knew that nothing like that is going to happen?
JOEY LOGANO: Well, you never know. But honestly, as a competitor you have to keep that stuff in your mind. Everyone says put it out of your mind, but you have to think about it. You have to make the right decisions and be smart about how we were going to race each other. He raced me hard. He raced me the same way that I would have raced him. We ran each other hard and tried to ‑‑ but there was nothing dirty. Everything was fine.
You know, I thought the three competitors that I was going against this week, that was maybe one of the coolest parts about this whole thing is we enter up against the best of the best. No one was in there by accident. To beat the best, I guess that’s what makes this championship feel so good.
I told my interior guy Daniel Lynch when I got in the car, I said, I’m getting in as a driver and getting out as a champion, and we were able to do that, so what a great feeling.
- On the final lap when you were coming to the checkered flag, I’ve got your radio recorded, and you were pretty calm the whole last 15 laps, didn’t say anything, let out a huge yell as you got the checkered flag. What was going through your mind as you were going ‑‑ taking the checkered flag and then going through the cool down lap there?
JOEY LOGANO: You’re just doing your job, and you’re just trying to maintain the intensity and be perfect. That’s what you’re trying to do.
It’s funny, T.J., my spotter, he’s usually pretty relaxed. He doesn’t really get to fired up. Even Martinsville when we were coming across the line, he never stopped. He just kept spotting and he was relaxed and all. And I could tell in his voice he was getting excited. He was ramping up as we were going, and I was getting excited, and you know, man, it’s just right around the corner.
I’ll tell you, it was incredible. It takes just the whole team to do this. You think about everyone that’s at the shop that built this thing and the heart that everyone has put into it and the time away from their families, and what a motor. I didn’t even talk about Roush Yates. What a motor, and putting Pennzoil in it, too, man. That thing was hot. We ran that thing hot, and she survived. I was nervous about it. That was something. Proud of the effort that ‑‑ I guess I should be talking more than Team Penske because it’s the effort that all our partners put into it, not just what you see at the racetrack or what you see at the race shop but what you see from the development center, from the oil, from the motor shop with Roush Yates to our marketing department and bringing the dollars that pay for all of this. Everybody is ‑‑ it’s a team win for everyone, and I know it sounds so cliché, but man, it really is. It’s just it takes an army to do this.
You think about the team that Roger Penske has put together from the top with Cindric and Mike Nelson and Travis Geisler leading the group and hiring the right people and building a great race team and building it stronger and stronger, I couldn’t be more proud of those guys. A lot of things happen before it gets to me, you know. A lot of big decisions are made before the driver even knows what’s going on a lot of times. You know, they should be super proud of themselves, which I’m sure they are. But what a great race team from the top down.
- You said it was a long road to here, 10 years in the Cup Series. When did you go from the driver who people could push around to the fearless driver you are today?
JOEY LOGANO: Well, you tell me. Honestly, I guess I just felt like I’m back to where I was growing up. As the kid growing up, I was an aggressive racer, and I was able to win a lot of races. I got humbled pretty quick. I guess humbled is the word. I don’t know, I got beat up. I got pushed around a lot. I wasn’t fast. I didn’t have no respect. I think that beats up on your confidence pretty quickly, and you have to kind of dig back inside and ‑‑ every sport is a mental sport, so you have to really figure out how to be strong again and dig out of holes.
I said it after the race in one of the interviews, but the opportunity to make mistakes is one of the best things that can ever happen to you. I made a lot of mistakes, a lot of mistakes in front of all of you, things I shouldn’t say or whatever it was, but there’s no regrets, either, because that’s formed me into the man I am today, and if it wasn’t for each and every one of those mistakes, I wouldn’t be sitting here today, and I wouldn’t have the people around me, either, that have surrounded me.
God teaches you many lessons, sometimes the hard way, but I wouldn’t take any of them back. Even if we didn’t win today, I wouldn’t.
- Joey, first, Thursday during media day, you said you were the favorite. You called your shot and you backed it up. What was it that through all of this all week made you so sure that this was going to be the final outcome?
JOEY LOGANO: You know, I think there’s this ‑‑ quite a few things. You have to ‑‑ you can’t just be confident and say it because then it’s just kind of BS, right, you have to believe it inside. I think I see my family sitting over there, and the support that they give me and pump me up sometimes when I’m feeling down. I’m still human ‑‑ I’m the first one to look inside before I look outward, so I’ll beat myself up pretty quick. But I do know that we’ve been here before. I kept telling myself that, and it was funny, the other night with our management team, Clutch, Noah Gragson and Cole Custer are our drivers, as well, and I was talking to both of them, and my wife, we were driving from the Comcast Community Champion award to actually the racetrack, and I called Cole and we were talking back and forth, and when I looked over my wife was recording what I was saying because she wanted me to hear what I was saying because I was telling him to be relaxed and this was going to be good, and no matter what today, win or lose, you become a stronger man at the end of the day. When you put yourself in high‑pressure situations, you find more out of yourself than you know what’s there. And I think that move at the end of the race shows it, that you refuse to lose. You really do, because I know how much it hurts to finish second, so just a crazy thing to do that.
But you honestly need to preach to yourself sometimes, and I do that as much as I can and to our race team because we didn’t have a reason to not feel confident. We really didn’t. We’ve executed under high pressure situations before, and we’ve been here before and done a great job. My pit crew was incredible. So I had everyone around me. I just had to go do my job. The hard part was kind of over. Plus all you guys thought we were the underdog. I didn’t think that, but most everyone did. Maybe someone won some money in Vegas.
- Roger was in here earlier and talked about how you’ve matured as a driver and a person since joining Team Penske. Talk about what he’s meant to your career and then you mentioned your family, as well, how they’ve changed your perspective?
JOEY LOGANO: Well, you’ve eventually got to grow up, right? It doesn’t mean I can’t have fun. I can still enjoy a lot of things. But to first off, drive for Roger Penske, what an amazing opportunity. Quite a few years ago, I knew being with someone like that, you can’t lose because he’s a winner, and you want to surround yourself with winners all the way through. Some of the best advice my dad has taught me is to surround yourself with people smarter than you. That’s pretty easy for me, actually. I don’t want to be the smartest one here, but I sure look it when I have the right people around me, and that’s not just my race team, that’s my family all the way through. There’s a lot of support that goes back and forth and a lot of things behind the scenes that not everybody here gets to know about or to see in preparation for this because this isn’t something that I take lightly going into a race weekend. There’s a lot that I study and look into, and there’s a lot that everybody is ‑‑ each individual on our race team goes through to prepare, and they’ve got to have a support group, as well. We talk about my family a lot, but this is a long, grueling season. You guys know. You guys come to most every race, most of you do.
But if you think about the amount of time you guys need to take away from your family and how hard that is and how stressful it is, and missing things with your kids and missing baseball games or whatever it may be, hockey games, whatever, graduations, things like that, this is a commitment. This is a long season. This is not easy to do. So I think everybody has a great backing from their family.
My wife just did the Penske ladies night out, which she does a great job honoring everybody that puts in all that time, and they have a good time for a night, too. I guess it takes an army.
- You just spoke about your family. Obviously it seemed like a very family‑like atmosphere on the stage with your father there and Brittany and Hudson. You put Hudson inside the trophy. With everything that comes with a championship and that celebration, what was that moment like?
JOEY LOGANO: I mean, you’ve got to have fun with it, you know. When you see the people you love the most, I think that’s when you break down the most. You just ‑‑ you think about how much they were there for you all the way through, through the good times and the bad times they were there. To celebrate that moment with them is so special.
The things that go through your mind, and you think about that moment Christmas morning when I walked out into the garage and saw a go‑kart in there, and that was the beginning. That was it. All I wanted to do was drive from there out. My goal was to be a NASCAR champion, and it took so many years and so many people and so much commitment from everybody to do it. All that stuff goes through your mind. When you see them, you want everyone to party with you, you know, and celebrate and be there.
It’s hard to put it into words, the way you feel at that moment.
- I asked Roger and Todd this question, as well, but is there any extra satisfaction in winning in the way you did? It’s the first time in the playoffs that the four championship drivers have finished one, two, three, four. You really had to beat those three to get the win today. The four of you dominated the whole race.
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, they’re the best for a reason, right? They didn’t make mistakes. They all found ways to maximize their finish. You know, with some different strategies from the 18, that put them in the spot to possibly win the race. There was just so many different things that happened. But yeah, we raced the best and we beat the best today.
- Joey, the numbers are going to say you had a top‑4 year, but maybe to some you’ve kind of been either overlooked or underestimated, the underdog, whatever you want to say. Explain why this is not an upset, in a sense, and when did you feel like or at what point in the season did you feel like you went from being fourth best to having a shot at this championship?
JOEY LOGANO: You know, I think, honestly, my wife can probably vouch for this, as well, as we talk about things a lot, but I really ‑‑ 20 weeks ago didn’t think ‑‑ I thought, man, if we get to the Round of Eight, that’s pretty good this year for where we were at the time. We were consistent, that’s what kept us up in the point all year long. We didn’t have many bad races throughout the season.
But I guess just as the playoffs went, everyone rose to the occasion. You know, everyone picked it up. We talk about it at playoff media day before the season starts, and you always talk about how you have to find another little bit inside of you to just maintain when the playoffs starts because everyone is able to get a little bit better, and then as we do that, we started running better, and we were running top 5s and winning stages, so okay, we’re in a decent spot here. I think throughout the playoffs ‑‑ you guys probably know me, but I don’t think anyone scored more points than us throughout the playoffs. Am I right or am I wrong?
MODERATOR. That is correct.
JOEY LOGANO: That sounds good. I’m glad I didn’t say something stupid there.
But you know, it goes to show that we executed under pressure, not just today or the last five races but the last ten really is when I felt like we’ve got a shot at this thing and probably the last seven or so was when I felt like we had a great shot, to answer your question.
- To go back to something you said a few minutes ago about walking out in the garage on Christmas morning and seeing the go‑kart, on TV you mentioned that being a NASCAR champion had been your dream since childhood. When people asked you what you wanted to be, that was what you told them. What age did that start?
JOEY LOGANO: When I was about six. So yeah, that was it. I mean, every day I went to school, you know, they’d ask you what you wanted to be, and I’d say a race car driver. In Connecticut that wasn’t really a popular thing. That was a little odd. But that’s what I wanted to do. And to be able to bring a championship to Connecticut ‑‑ a NASCAR championship to Connecticut. How cool is that? Has anyone ever done that?
- No, you’re the first.
JOEY LOGANO: That’s pretty neat. Maybe made a lot of race fans in Connecticut. There’s a lot of New England race fans. As a New Englander it means a lot to me to be able to do that.
- So why NASCAR? Why not open wheel or something like that?
JOEY LOGANO: I love it. Just love stock car racing. To me it’s my favorite form of racing. It’s the most exciting to watch. It’s what attracted me as a kid. You know, it’s what was on TV all the time on Sundays, and I was a race fan, had all the Hot Wheels, had all the cards and all that. You know, to still be a fan at heart but to be doing it is crazy.
- You talked about kind of getting the go‑kart and having aspirations to become a Cup champion. What advice would you give that younger self, knowing what you know now?
JOEY LOGANO: Honestly, one of my favorite quotes is having the opportunity to make mistakes can be the best opportunity you ever have. You know, not everyone gets to drive a race car, and not everyone gets to make a mistake in a race car and learn from it and become better and have another opportunity to make a new mistake. No one has that. Not everyone has that. Not no one, but a lot of people don’t have that opportunity. That’s probably one of my biggest pieces of advice and to enjoy every minute of it, because not everyone gets to push a race car to its limits, whether it’s at the local level or here in the top level. Not everyone gets to drive as fast as they can without going to jail; know what I mean? I’ve got a badass job, and I remind myself of that. Even if we didn’t win today, I know how blessed I am. It’s crazy to think that I’m living out my dream.
When we do a lot of stuff with the foundation and to be able to see a lot of these families that are just dealt a bad card and how they’re still positive and able to fight through, we met an amazing family last night, and the little girl just got through brain cancer, and her mom lost her job because she was taking care of her kid. That’s real life. That happens. I guess to me, to think that I get to drive a race car for a living, sometimes it just seems kind of crazy.
- A lot of us here were introduced to you actually before we ever saw you by people talking about you like Mark Martin and so forth, and to keep our eye out for you, and you came in with a lot of accolades and probably a lot of expectations and got thrust into the Cup Series early at JGR. How hard was it at some point to not maybe live up to expectations that rightly or wrongly people kind of put on your shoulders, and then after that, is there some sweet satisfaction in that actually maybe some people who gave up on you, you still end up on top?
JOEY LOGANO: I don’t know about the satisfaction piece, but to answer you how hard it was, yeah, it’s really hard because you come in with so much hype, and you’re expected to win right off the bat. You know, and if it wasn’t for that hype, I wouldn’t have had the job anyways, so I don’t think it’s a bad thing in any way. But I expected to go out there and win, as well, and just got my butt handed to me on a platter. It was hard. You just ‑‑ there’s a lot of times that I felt really weak, and I’d break down, and it was just ‑‑ it was hard. You know, when you’re confused, you don’t know how to be better. You’re 18 years old or 19 or 20, and this is some pretty big stuff for a teenager to be able to go through, sitting up here, talking to you guys, trying to handle all those situations. I didn’t know what I was doing. I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but just have a better idea of it, I guess.
It’s really ‑‑ it was really hard. But like I said, it makes you stronger in so many different ways. Even if I’m not a race car driver anymore, just so many lessons that I’ve learned from being in this sport and being around you guys and in our garage and being around so many smart people, I’m able to take so many great lessons out of it.
At the time that I was losing my job at Gibbs, that was a pretty low point for me, and I don’t think I think as clearly as I do now thinking about all the lessons I learned. I was thinking about, oh, my gosh, I’m not going to be a race car driver anymore and what am I going to do with my life, and this is awful, and next thing you know, there’s the 22 car and Roger Penske and Todd Gordon and an amazing race team all the way through that wants you to drive. Oh, my goodness. Like I say, God works in some mysterious ways sometimes, and it just really worked out for me.
- In the final stage of the race, we could see that Martin was a little bit faster than you, and then suddenly after the final pit stop, you were the fastest. What made you better for the final 15 laps? Was it strategy or different setting of the car? What was that?
JOEY LOGANO: What did Todd say earlier? Whatever he did made it faster. You know, like I said, our car was good for a short run, and it was like that all night, and I’d say he made some good adjustments there the last run to allow the car to be even faster on the short run, and that’s what really paid off.
I guess it’s part of the strategy, I guess. He made some good changes, and it worked out.
- You kind of touched on it with Connecticut not really being a racing hotbed. How much more difficult did that make it for you to get where you are today and what are your expectations for Middletown?
JOEY LOGANO: I can’t wait to go back. We have a trip planned up there pretty soon. Man, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think the reaction is going to be great. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to be able to bring a NASCAR championship to Middletown, Connecticut, of all places, just who would have ever thought that. Yeah, I mean, it’s just ‑‑ it means a lot, you know, to be able to do that. Was it harder? Not really. Like I said, there was a lot of racing up there. Modifieds are huge up there. I raced at Silver City Quarter Midget club in Meriden, Connecticut, and that’s where I started, and Cavanna knows ‑‑ he’s laughing back there. He knows. He’s the same place. He was older, though, so we didn’t race each other. Anyway, that part is pretty neat to me, and it wasn’t ‑‑ I don’t think much more challenging there than anywhere else.
- A couple things I want to check. One thing is the comment you made to Dan before the race, is that something that you normally say something back and forth? Where did that come from?
JOEY LOGANO: I was just pumped up, man. I was pretty jacked up. I was pretty jacked up since this morning. I don’t know, I just ‑‑ you have a routine, and I know ways to bring myself to another level now, just as I’ve been around and how I get myself to feel that competitive vibe and get to that level that you need to be at to compete for a championship, and I was just there. You know, you feel it, you feel like you’re in that mode. I knew what was on the line. It’s not like you forget about it. You’d like to think it’s just another race, but you’re racing for a championship. It’s all or nothing.
You know, I guess I just felt like I had myself where I needed to be, and I honestly felt that.
- You’ve talked about your path and certainly the challenges in your Cup career, but to leave here in ’14, to leave here particularly in ’16, and obviously even ’15 for as good as you were not to have that opportunity, the gut punches that those were, do those go away? How did those ‑‑ how painful were those, and how does one bounce back because for some, those can be devastating blows?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, they hurt. They hurt a lot. And right when you think it’s over, you’ve got to go to the banquet and watch somebody else give the championship speech, and then it hurts again. But it’s motivation to me. I try to find the positives in everything in life. There’s too much negative in our world sometimes. When you’re able to just look at situations, there’s always a silver lining in there, you’ve just got to look for it. Sometimes it’s hard to find it because it’s easy for us to dwell on the bad stuff. Once you get past that and you look at what can make you stronger, I guess that’s what it is, and it makes you not want to feel that again.
You know, it’s almost like the fear of losing. It’s bigger than the want to win sometimes. You know, and I guess that’s the way I think. But I hate that feeling. Winning is sometimes just what you feel like you’re supposed to do, and losing hurts a lot.
- Pennzoil has been involved in the sport for nearly 30 years and been associated with champion drivers such as Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick and they’ve won prestigious races including your Daytona 500 but never won a championship. You delivered that today; how special is that?
JOEY LOGANO: That’s incredible. I did not know that. But yeah, like I said earlier, the amount of resources that Pennzoil puts into this and Shell does, it’s second to none. It really is. It’s not just a marketing point. You know that we say we use it in our car and use it in your car and all that. It’s true, though. That is ‑‑ honestly, the oil we run is built from the engineers and working with Roush Yates and the Pennzoil engineers, as well, and everyone is figuring out what we need. Not only do we want to make power but we want reliability and we want to do it at a really hot temperature. Those are the goals we’re trying to reach with the development of our engines and oil, as well. So to have a partnership that’s not just from the marketing side, but it’s from the racing side of things, as well, is ‑‑ what a cool partner, and it makes it authentic for me to talk about. That’s why it’s so easy to talk about, because it’s true.
- I believe you’re the first driver to miss the playoffs the season before and then come back and win the championship. I think. So I wanted to know what that experience taught you and was there ever a point where you thought you were going to lose Todd with the way driver‑crew chief turnover was during that difficult season? Can you just kind of take us back to how you came from there and those difficulties to be here now?
JOEY LOGANO: Honestly it really wasn’t the talk at all last year. Just thought that we had a very challenging year, and there was a lot of lessons we needed to learn, and we were just ‑‑ we got stubborn and stuck in our ways, and we felt like this is what worked because we almost won the championship the year before and we were the fastest car down here, we should have won and all this stuff, and then you go to the next season and you get spanked. To take a step back and say, okay, we kind of need to think things over.
The rebound started maybe about four or five races before the playoffs last year, and it’s been a slow but steady climb back to now the top. It’s just so crazy to think. We dropped like an elevator and we took the flight of stairs back up to the top, man. To be able to do that and fighting together with the whole race team, not just the two of us but all the way through, you make a little gain here, a little gain here, a little gain there, all of a sudden we’re champions the next year. What a fight.