Ford Performance NASCAR: Michigan 1 (Joey Logano Media Availability)

Ford PR


Date: Friday June 16, 2017

Event: Fire Keepers Casino 400 (Media Availability)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Michigan International Speedway (2.0-mile oval)

Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion returns to Michigan International Speedway as the defending race winner and was third fastest in opening NASCAR Cup Series practice Friday morning. Logano spoke about the weekend ahead.

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion — YOU WON HERE LAST YEAR, THAT HAS TO GIVE YOU A LITTLE BOOST TO YOUR CONFIDENCE GOING INTO SUNDAY: “Yeah, of course. Anytime you come to one of your best race tracks like here at Michigan, especially the way our last month-and-a-half has gone it is a confidence builder for sure. To be able to unload today with decent speed, then switch to qualifying trim and find more that last run is definitely a nice turnaround for us. We have been lacking a little speed but this seems like the best race track for us to turn this around. I am excited to get out there and see what we can do in qualifying with our Shell Pennzoil Ford and obviously try to tune it up for the race Sunday.”

HAVE YOU GUYS FIGURED OUT WHERE YOU HAVE BEEN OFF THE LAST MONTH OR SO? “We have about 15 areas we think. A lot of it is process of elimination. I think there is a certain area we think we can get better but it takes a lot of time to fix that. It is not just a spring or wedge. Believe me, we have changed every spring we can change in these things. Over time we should be able to get back where we want to and already we are moving that way. We are balancing our cars better and trying to get to where we can get into the corner better. That seems to be our biggest lack right now, the entry of the corners. We are trying to fix that. It seems we’ve made a decent step this week. It seems like we are in a step in the right direction. We will keep working.”

HOW FRUSTRATING HAS THIS BEEN? “It is not fun. You have to keep life in perspective a lot of times with what you are doing out there. One of funniest comments, maybe not the truth but, someone said, ‘We aren’t curing cancer out there, we are just trying to make circles really fast.’ It is something we can fix. This team is strong. We have been through this stuff before. Really if you look at the speed, last week in Pocono we made a step. We had a good second run in qualifying and were ninth. We had a good start, we were running sixth and had a flat tire. Those things have been happening to us. It isn’t just the speed. We have had other issues. We had an issue at Dover where we had a top-10 car. We aren’t the winning car like we are used to being or want to be but we have made some progress on our cars to where we have gotten faster since Charlotte. We just haven’t had a chance to show it because we are trying to overcome things. Our car isn’t fast enough to overcome issues that happen in the race right now. If we get faster we can overcome having a flat tire last week.”

ARE THERE CONCERNS SINCE YOUR WIN IS ENCUMBERED AND DON’T HAVE THAT PASS INTO THE PLAYOFFS? “It is on my mind. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t, but it isn’t something I am very concerned about. I feel like this team is strong enough to get through it. We just need to get through it, build momentum. The way these stages are, you can gain points pretty quick. We have proven we can lose them pretty quick. A couple good races of scoring stage points and a great finish will put you right back to close to where we were. We have to be able to string three or four solid races together like we know how to. We have strung 15-20 great races together before. It is nothing this team hasn’t done before. We are very strong. No one is pointing fingers. There is none of that going on. We just have to get through it as a team together.”

WE SAW BRAKE ISSUES LAST WEEK AND YOU HAD SOME AT KANSAS. IS THERE CONCERN AMONG YOU GUYS AS DRIVERS ABOUT THAT? “That is a great question. It is no secret that when you take the spoiler off the car you will be going faster into the corner and have to slow down more. How do you slow down? Brakes. In practice the drivers don’t use much brake and you have clean air on the car to help cool them. When you get racing at places like Pocono where it is a fairly hard brake and you are drafting behind someone, you are going faster and have to slow down more and are in dirty air. The driver uses way more brake. Over the years every team tries to lighten the brake package as much as they can. We are dropping off on spoiler and drag and all that and we are finding the edge. Every team is. It is not something that I think needs to be mandated, just something everyone needs to learn the new limit. We have crossed it a couple times now. We get in these situations where the cars are challenging to handle in traffic right now.”

“Anytime you put a bigger brake package on you are giving up performance of you car. You have to have something you can race to the end too. Do you want to go fast for 10 laps or go fast at the 400th mile. I want to go fast at the end. We have to make adjustments to do that. it is something that every team is going through. It isn’t just us. It is not like there is an advantage to one of the other. Everyone has to figure out what is right.”

IT HAS BEEN A BIG YEAR FOR THE YOUNG GUYS. IT WASN’T LONG AGO THAT YOU WERE ONE OF THOSE YOUNG GUYS: “Gee thanks. Man. I think it is amazing to see the first wins of everybody. I kind of like to put myself in that group. I am 27, so not that far off from the young guys. There are some guys in that group that are my age. I think to see the youth movement and the drivers that have been here a couple years and getting their heads wrapped around what it takes to win on of these Cup races and they have become very competitive. It is great to see. There are drivers that will be retiring in the next 5-6 years and someone has to replace them. To see how these drivers get the experience now to where they are competitive enough to race with the guys that are here now is incredible to see. Yeah, our sport is going a transition, no doubt, and it will be for a little bit. There is a lot of young talent coming in and we will keep going through that transition.”

HOW HARD HAS IT BEEN TO MAINTAIN YOUR PATIENCE THIS YEAR? IS THERE SOMEONE YOU LEAN ON OUR LOOK TO FOR MAINTAINING A LEVEL HEAD? “Yeah, this team has been racing for a championship the last three years and have come very close the last three years in a row. Nothing has changed. It is the same group, the same people and we didn’t forget how to do things. We are just going through a little rough period. We had to go back and relearn some things. Some stuff that worked in the past don’t work with this package. We have had to find something new to make us successful and we all understand that. We understand if we work together we will get through it. With that in mind, this whole team sticks together and keeps fighting to persevere. Personally, I lean on my wife like I think probably everyone else does when you get home from work. We have a download and look for a little support from that direction and she helps me a lot. So do my friends. Like I said, you have to keep life in perspective and remember what are the most important things in life. There are always tests of faith and who you are in your character and also a time that you are going to learn a lot and grow the most when you are in a little slump. It will make you better as a person.”

YOU ARE ONLY 27 AND THAT SEEMS VERY YOUNG IN MY MIND. YOU DON’T FEEL AT 27 OLD DO YOU? “No, I think I am still in great shape. I haven’t lost it yet. No, I love the position I am in. Because I have nine years of experience under my belt, that is a big deal at 27 years old. I am the only one that has that. It makes me unique and I can use that as a competitive advantage. I like the position I am in at the age I am at.”

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO BE SO DRIVEN AND KEEP THIS UP? HOW DRIVEN DO YOU HAVE TO BE TO RUN AT THIS LEVEL, THIS HARD FOR WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO GET? “You have to be more driven each year because what worked last year doesn’t work the next year. Everyone gets better. It is just how people are. If you watch the X Games, whatever the crazy jump was years ago is nothing now. That is because people keep evolving and work harder and you have to keep that drive to become better. The advantages that we had three years ago is now the norm. It is crazy. You have to keep looking for other advantages and thinking outside the box. Like we have always had to but it is kind of disappointing when you get the advantage and then the whole field figures it out. That is just part of it.”

DO YOU GET A SENSE ALL THAT THE TIRE DRAGGING THEY HAVE BEEN DOING HERE HAS WIDENED THE TRACK OUT AND HOW MUCH WILL RAIN AFFECT THAT? “On weekends when it rains it doesn’t really wash away as much rubber as we really think it does. I think it is more about time. If you give a track a month it might be gone and be green though. It will definitely wash some rubber off but it gets laid down pretty quick. For whatever reason maybe all the little small holes in the race track get filled up or they are already filled up and the rain washes it away and the rubber fills them up the next time. Kansas is a good example of that. Sometimes it is really hard to get the track widened out up by the wall and then it can rain and you can be up by the wall in a couple laps. I don’t know how that works but it is something I have noticed. I know track temperature effects things more than anything as far as widening out. The hotter it is the more rubber will get laid down, cars make mistakes and get up by the wall and lay down rubber and the groove gets wider. When you are in qualifying trim you aren’t really moving around the race track. You are going to go to the lane that you know is the fastest groove. Now, watching the ARCA race and Xfinity race here will help that as well and seeing how much wider it is going to get. This place usually gets to three lanes. The bottom lane comes in a little and will move up another three-quarters or so.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.