Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Ford Fusion, is ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings heading into Sunday’s Martinsville 500. He held a Q&A session at his team hauler, where a variety of issues were discussed.
Joey Logano – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion – HAVE YOU TALKED TO TONY? IS THIS OVER OR WILL WE SEE MORE FIREWORKS THIS WEEK? “I feel like with Tony and I, I think it’s pretty much over. We have not talked to each other, but we had an off-weekend and time to relax a little bit and cool off, so I feel like that’s over.
I feel like we’re moving on. I think we’re both out there trying to improve on what we’ve got already. I feel like with our Shell/Pennzoil Ford we’ve had a decent season so far, but we’re not where we want to be yet.
AS FAR AS BLOCKING ARE YOU GOING TO CHANGE ANYTHING? “It’s an opinion of how people race and it depends on what point of the race you’re doing that stuff.
I think that’s the part that you need to look into as a driver when you make the decision on what you do inside the car and what point in the race that is.”
WHEN IS IT APPROPRIATE TO BLOCK? “Every driver is going to have their own opinion. It’s going to be different for everybody. Late in the race, I think you’re going to see that a lot.
You’re going to see it here. A lot of people are going to do it and as a driver you have to be ready for that.
But early in the race it isn’t acceptable for a lot of people and I don’t blame them. That shouldn’t be acceptable early in the race, but late in the race every spot means so much.
You get pushing around, especially here at Martinsville, there’s going to be a lot of pushing and shoving and everyone just has to be on their toes for that.”
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO TONY’S COMMENTS AFTER FONTANA? “You can say the same thing about my comments after the race. It’s heat of the moment. He just got off of pit road with a shoving match and so did I, and we’re all fired up. Then you stick a microphone in our face and we’re not ready for it, so you’re going to say things that you may or may not mean.
When you get some time to cool off a little bit, your comments change quite a bit. That’s one of the tough things about our sports. In most sports, you have time to cool off before they stick a microphone in your face.”
DID YOU EXPECT TO TALK TO HIM OR HAVE HIM CALL YOU? “No, I didn’t really plan on it and foresee that happening. I think it’s going to go away. I think we both understand what happened. I’ve heard his comments and he’s heard my comments.”
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THE LAST FEW WEEKS? “The game plan is not to be out in the middle of the drama, but at least they’re talking about you. That’s a good thing and we’ve had some really fast cars that can go out there and win these things.”
DO YOU HAVE TO RE-EVALUATE THE SITUATION FROM FONTANA? “I obviously looked back on it and what I did, and I looked back at the four or five cars behind me and they did the same exact thing.
That’s hard racing at the end of the race and I stand by what I said at the end of the race. Early in the race, no, you shouldn’t do that. At the end of the race, I would expect it to be done to me.”
DO YOU AGREE THAT YOU WERE THE CAUSE OF THE WRECK? “It’s hard racing. It’s like I said in my ESPN interview. It’s hard racing. You’re coming down to the last lap. For the last 10 laps I thought it was a great race and an awesome race.
We were racing really hard and we go in the corner and I shoved up into him. I guess you can take some blame for that, but it’s just hard racing. We’re going out there to win this thing and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
DID HE TRY TO COME BACK INTO YOU AFTER HE HIT THE OUTSIDE WALL? DID THAT PLAY A ROLE IN IT? “That’s a good question for him. I know what happened in my car and only I know what happened in my car.
Only he knows what happened in his car. It may be a better question for him, I don’t know. I’m not inside his race car. I drive the 22 car.”
DID YOU SEE HIM DO THAT ON THE REPLAY? “It’s so hard to say. I’m moving on from it. It’s unfortunate. We want him to get better because he’s one of the best race car drivers out here.
I want to race against the best of the best. We’re hoping for a speedy recovery for him so he can get out here and race with us again.”
WILL YOU HAVE A HEIGHTENED AWARENESS WHEN GUYS LIKE TONY AND DENNY ARE AROUND YOU NOW? “As a race car driver you have a lot of awareness of everything around you at all times, so everything is going through your mind at one point. You’re trying to make the race car go faster.
You’re trying to pass the guy in front of you. Everyone knows who you’re racing against and what happened before in the past. That’s always in your mind. It’s not any different this week than it would be any other week.”
WILL YOU RACE TONY ANY DIFFERENTLY SUNDAY IF YOU’RE NECK AND NECK? “I would expect him to race me the same way is what I would expect from him. Late in the race, I would probably do the same thing if it’s the right move at the time, but like I said, early in the race I wouldn’t.
It’s 500 laps here at Martinsville, so there has to be give-and-take. This is one of the toughest race tracks to get around and passing cars is hard, so patience runs low here. It’s a give-and-take race, for sure.”
YOU ARE PARKED RIGHT NEXT TO THE 11 THIS WEEKEND IN THE GARAGE. HAVE YOU EXCHANGED WORDS WITH DENNY AT ALL? “We haven’t yet, no.
We are obviously parked next to each other, but when you’re in your car and we’re focused in on making our car go fast and trying to get our car to qualify well right now.
We were focusing on that hour-and-a-half trying to make sure our car gets running the way we want it.”
DO YOU LIKE THE IDEA OF A HIGHER PROFILE AND BEING BETTER KNOWN? “It’s good for your sponsor and good for your team, I guess, to have a higher awareness, but we want to do it for being in Victory Lane and not for being almost close to being in Victory Lane. The last three weeks we’ve been fast enough to be in Victory Lane, so I feel like it’s right around the corner for us.”
THIS HAS PUT YOU IN THE SPOTLIGHT. ARE YOU EMBRACING IT? “I just go with the flow.”
WHAT HAVE YOU HEARD FROM FANS? “I think the great thing about our sport is the fans can say whatever they want and we get to see it on Twitter, which is cool. Obviously, the Joey Logano fans are behind me 100 percent and I appreciate that.
The Denny Hamlin fans are behind him and the Tony Stewart fans are going to be behind him and that’s understandable. Everyone is allowed to have their opinion and speak the way they want to and that’s OK with me. I think that’s great, so it’s kind of what you’d expect. Everyone is sticking behind their driver and it’s cool to see loyal fans like that.”
HAVE DRIVERS COME TO YOU AND SUPPORTED YOU? “I got a lot of text messages and phone calls from a few other drivers out there who are supportive of me – a lot of guys who have been in my shoes before and can help you get through some of this.”
BRAD HAS BEEN THOUGH THIS BEFORE. HAS HE TALKED TO YOU? “Yeah, we’ve talked about it over the last week and how we think we should handle this.
I’ve talked to Roger a lot, too and everyone at Penske Racing on what’s the right way to handle these situations. I feel like I’ve got a good support team behind me helping me get through this and that’s what it takes. It’s a team sport in every aspect.”
HOW DO YOU HANDLE IT? “The way I am – high road.”
DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE TO CHANGE THE WAY YOU DRIVE? “No, I’m not going to change the way I drive. I don’t feel like I do anything that’s really disrespectful to other drivers out there. I race really hard. I’m fine with being known as a hard racer. That’s OK with me.”
DENNY SAID YOU NEEDED MORE PATIENCE. DO YOU AGREE? “Everyone has their opinion. I feel like I have plenty of patience behind the wheel. I feel that I have enough racing experience and enough racing savvy to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.”
MARK MARTIN SAID YOU’RE NOT A GUY WHO GOES OUT LOOKING FOR TROUBLE. HOW HAVE YOU DEALT WITH THIS? “I don’t look for trouble, but I’m also not here to get walked on either.
There’s a fine line of how you’re going to earn that respect. There are certain ways to handle every situation. I’m not a guy that’s going to look for trouble, but I’m also the guy that’s not going to get walked on.”
DO YOU THINK YOU’RE TRYING TOO HARD TO PROVE YOURSELF IN THIS NEW RIDE AND ARE PRESSING AT ALL? “No, I don’t feel like I need to prove myself. I want to go out and win races.
If that’s proving yourself, OK then that’s what it is, but I’m out here to win races just like everyone else is and I’m going to race hard to do that.”