Continued from part 1 JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing What are you expecting in your second Sprint Cup Series season? "Hopefully, a lot of improvements. I'm excited. I definitely have a lot more experience...
Continued from part 1
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are you expecting in your second Sprint Cup Series season? "Hopefully, a lot of improvements. I'm excited. I definitely have a lot more experience coming into this season, especially coming into Daytona. Last year, I was a dart without feathers out there and this year I feel like I at least know w here I'm going. I feel like our second Daytona was better. I'm excited to get back on the race track and get things figured out with this Home Depot Toyota. They have been working really hard to make our cars even better. With the more experience and more time I've gotten with Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) and the better race cars, I feel like we're going to have a good season."
Is making the Chase too high of a goal for you this year? "No, I think you've got to look far enough to the Chase right off the bat just to make it. The way it came down last year at Richmond is how it comes down every year. It comes down to where one race could have made it or break it for you. I think you have to start from the beginning of the season to make it and I think we can make it as long as we're smart and do the right moves. We went over a lot of things that it would take to make the Chase and I think we should have a shot at it. The first four races here are going to tell a lot whether you make it or not. We were looking at it last year and I think it was eight of the top-12 were in after the first four races. It's pretty important to start off on the right foot."
How much of an advantage is it for you to have more experience? "More experience is a really, really big deal, especially with the Cup car. Just driving the car alone, it was a big deal to get more seat time. There's places where we picked up in the second part of the season and there are still places now that I need a little bit more. The good part is that most of the places I feel like we have a pretty good handle on and that's what it's going to take to get us in the Chase."
How different is the Daytona 500 experience for you the second time? "It's going to be a lot more fun this time. To be honest with you, last year was probably two of the worst weeks of my whole life. I struggled a lot here last year. Coming back here in July is what gave me the confidence for this week. I'm looking forward to getting on the track later this afternoon because we should have a good car. Last year was definitely a whirlwind to say the least. I was trying to figure things out and all that."
Are you excited or nervous about NASCAR allowing drivers to bump draft? "I think it will be fine. I don't think it's going to be a real big deal. Here (Daytona), the tire is going to wear out, handling will come into play more than anything. I think the first 10 laps you will be able to bump through the corner and maybe not get the guy too upset and drive it in there real hard. But, I think eventually after you get 15 laps on your tires, especially if you're in the middle to the back of the pack, you're not going to be able to stay there through the corners I don't think. You're car is going to be sliding around a lot, especially if you're in the back then you're car's not handling good anyway. On the straightaway will be okay, on the tri-oval might be the hairiest part, but I don't think it's going to be that bad through the turns. I think everyone is going to be smart enough. We're all professional race car drivers, the best in the world out there so I think you have that going for you at least. I think the cars aren't going to be able to stay that close through the turns anyway."
Can you compare your entrance into NASCAR with Danica Patrick's? "She's got a lot more eyes on her than I did last year and I felt like I had a lot of eyes on me. She's probably got twice that. I think she will be fine. It's good to start in the ARCA race. She'll be fine in that. Those cars are pretty secure around here so that will be a good feel for her to get used to it. It will be interesting to see. I've never driven an IndyCar so I don't know what that's like. I don't know how different they're going to be. I would imagine it's way, way different. I thought a Nationwide car to a Cup car was night and day different. I bet the difference for her will be more than that. I also believe that a race car driver is a race car driver and if you're a good race driver then you should be able to figure it out. I think it will take time and it's not going to be easy, but eventually I think if you're a race car driver then you'll figure it out."
How do you approach qualifying at Daytona? "I was thinking about that on the way here. It's not the biggest deal in the world because it's a superspeedway -- pit position is probably the biggest deal. Positions here can go back and forth 6,000 times before the end of the race so it's not a big deal. I was looking at some things on the airplane and there are different lines you can run. You can either run the shortest distance, which scrubs speed or you can go for not scrubbing speed. It's confusing because you don't really know. Everyone I talk to doesn't really know, everyone has theories about it, but no one knows. It's something I'll figure out when I'm out there as to which way I'm going to do it. There's more than one way to skin a cat and no one knows, but I've seen both ways work. I think we have a fast race car and it will show."
How often do you get angry? "I get angry more than you think. Most of the time it's with the helmet on. I feel like I'm a very fortunate person to be sitting where I am and there's a million people that would love to be where I'm at so I might as well enjoy it. On the other side, it is a job and it's a serious, serious deal here. You have a lot of people counting on you to do good. I'm a very competitive person and I do get mad, I do get frustrated at times. Daytona last year I was a very frustrated person. You want to be the best and you're going to get frustrated sometimes."
How would describe your improvement as a driver? "My improvement I feel like is night and day. I look at two years ago, I am twice the driver now -- I'm just so much better. I look back at things I did back in the day and I really wish I knew all this back then. Last week, I wen t to the Toyota All- Star Showdown in Irwindale (Calif.) and that's where that experience where I've been racing against the best of the best out here and it showed up when I got there. All that little stuff that I've learned just to keep up in Cup, then you go down to a different series is just killing people. It's cool to see that you improve that much through a couple years. I've learned more in the last two years than I have in my whole career."
DAVID REUTIMANN, No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Is it possible for you to make it into the Chase this year? "Absolutely. At least at our team and within our organization it's expected. If we don't, we don't, but at the same time we're expecting ourselves to get into the Chase. If we don't then it's going to be a little hard to deal with."
Do you expect to win a couple of races this year? "Getting in the Chase is a big deal, but winning some races along the way to do that is definitely a priority. If you win races then your chances of getting in the Chase are a lot better with the points gained for that day. Our goal is to win races and be consistent, that's our main goal. Sometimes, you lose focus as you focus so much on trying to win races that trying to get top-five finishes or top-10 finishes are what ultimately will get us into the Chase. You have to be aggressive, but you can't lose sight of what you're really trying to do."
Do you feel more comfortable in the race car now? "I'm getting there I think. About the time you feel comfortable at this level, something is going to happen so you don't ever feel totally comfortable. You just keep plugging away at it and trying to get better. Some of these guys feel like walking around in their living room because they are that comfortable and I'm just not that way. Not having to worry about qualifying makes life a lot easier. That was a miserable time and I don't want to go back."
How do you think Michael Waltrip will deal with not driving? "I think it kind of remains to be seen. Michael (Waltrip) knew he was coming down to Daytona to make the Daytona 500 so he knew he was going to Daytona. When it comes time where he's not going to be in the car, I think that's going to be difficult for a guy that loves the sport as much as Michael Waltrip does and has been as heavily involved in it for as many years as he has, I think just walking away is going to be very, very tough. That's my opinion. Just knowing Michael (Waltrip) like I do, he loves the sport, he loves what he does and I think it will be difficult."
What do you think about Trevor Bayne? "He does very good -- he's a very good qualifier, he qualifies extremely good. He definitely has speed and definitely has talent. He reminds me of when I would go out in the Truck Series and I would qualify really, really well and then couldn't put the whole entire race together. I've been in those situations. He'll be able to learn and be able to adapt and know what he wants to feel in a car to make it better for the longer run and stuff. He's definitely got talent. He's very young, very hungry guy and he's got a good race team over here with Jerry Baxter (crew chief) and those guys. They're going to be tough this year."
What do you see in Trevor Bayne that stands out? "I just think he's very into what he's doing and very gung-ho, very enthusiastic about everything. Whether it's an appearance or whatever, he's like, 'This is great, this is great.' I had to do a Lowe's Foods grocery store opening and we were signing autographs and he was all over the place. I told him to just sign autographs, but he was so happy and so enthused to be there and be a part of that deal. I think that's pretty cool and I think that's something that is kind of lost in our sport. Guys kind of go through the motions and don't realize how fortunate they are to be able to go do things like that."
Do you shop or purchase products affiliated with your sponsors? "Absolutely, if I have to run and get auto parts or something like that then I go to NAPA. We have Lowe's Foods who sponsors us and I don't do any grocery shopping, but when the grocery shopping has to get done then we go to Lowe's Foods. We try to support and even when it comes down to things like what hotel you are going to stay in on the road or during the off-season, you will try to go in and do a deal at a Best Western or something like that. We definitely remain loyal to our sponsors and stuff like that. If I'm going down the road and getting ready to go into a gas station then I'll probably go to a station that supports NASCAR as opposed to one that wouldn't. I don't really have to think about it, it just happens."
Do sponsors ask different things of you as they work on maximizing their sponsorships? "I think they're getting a little more creative with doing different things. I think Best Western is doing a deal that they are calling a 'Tweet Crew,' which is going to follow us around the race track at Phoenix and Tweet about everything they see. I think that's a unique marketing program and something that we haven't seen. I think sponsors and companies are going to get more creative in trying to get the word out and spread the word a little bit more. Before you were just doing the same thing every week and I don't think the same thing is good enough anymore. The harder sponsorships are then I think you have to be a little more creative."
How have the cars at Michael Waltrip Racing improved? "Our cars are so much more superior to what we had when we started, you just can't compare them. There is just no comparison between them."
How important is it for your father to still be involved in your career? "He's the guy that's basically made it happen for me over the years as far as making sacrifices and working really hard, giving me advice and keep me going. I think it's very important to have him around and he's been around my entire life as far as racing goes. I wouldn't know how to act without having my dad here. He's a part of my racing program from day one till now and hopefully for a long time to come."
Does it bother you that teams are jockeying for guaranteed starting positions by trading points? "I don't remember who said it -- but I think (Michael) Waltrip said it on his Twitter -- 'It is what America was made from, buying and selling and wheeling and dealing.' The fact that we're not in it isn't as good as if we were in it. But, then again, that's the deck we were given. I mean, if we would have done a better job during the year and we were in the top-35, it wouldn't have been a problem. That's the way things turn out. We're not and we'll have to focus and do what we can for the first five races to make sure we are in there."
Is the Red Bull team good enough to be a championship-contender? "We'll find out once we start running. I'd like to say that we are still improving. I guess if we keep getting better and better, it should be possible theoretically. But, I think it's one of those things where maybe a couple of those things were we think we got better on, we are really worse. Especially, for the start of the year -- we really don't know where we stand. As well as the whole spoiler thing is going to come out. Maybe we're one of the teams that figures that out right away -- I mean that's going to be a huge part of this season and who is going to make it in the Chase or not."
What advice would you have for Danica Patrick in her first ARCA race? "I don't know. I think -- have fun. My first ARCA race at Talladega is still one of the ones I remember the most for how crazy it was. You need to wear a helmet if you watch it from the stands. That's not an original quote. I've got to say that I think I got that one from Tom Busch, Kyle Busch's dad. So, I got to give credit where it is due." - more -
What makes the ARCA races so crazy? "Less experienced drivers. You can't say anything bad about it. It is what it is. You have to have a series at one point that is like that. That's just how it is -- it's part of the stepping ladder. I'm not going to say they do a bad job running it. But, it is what it is. It's a little bit crazy at times. Especially, for someone like Danica (Patrick) or myself, who has a lot of racing experience and comes in there and are running with a bunch of people who don't (have experience). But, it's entertaining."
How do you feel about Michael Schumacher's Formula 1 comeback? "It's awesome. I can't believe that he's coming to do it because he left on top. He's the man of all men. I guess it's kind of a win-win for him because if he does win again, then there's no question whatsoever -- ever. If he doesn't necessarily do well, you still got the excuse that I'm 41 years old and I haven't been doing it for three years. It's a win-win for him. It's going to be great for the sport."
Could you imagine making a comeback after taking several years off from a sport? "I don't think you do it to be on top. I think you do it because it's something you love. It's like Brett Favre, you have something in your blood and you want to keep doing it. You always have that drive to do it. I think, maybe you get burned out with it a little bit because our racing schedule is tough. You do this year after year -- you do all these races -- you kind of get burned out from it. I think after a couple of years break, you find that love for it you once had -- find the spirit to keep pushing and the drive for it and you do it again."
Was last season overwhelming for you with all the races? "No. I love the racing schedule. I love being able to get out every weekend. I'm having a lot of fun doing it -- the racing. It's like if you have a good race you're ready to get back out there and keep it going. If you have a bad race -- in the next weekend you can completely turn the whole thing around. So, you can forget it easily. I love the fact we race so much."
Did Jimmie Johnson talk to you about moving to the South? "Being a California and moving out here (N.C.), Jimmie (Johnson) had some great insight of what it's like doing that. I've got a little bit of extra European culture in my mix before I moved back to the East Coast. It's funny between the two of us to compare how we've grown up. We're both from California."
How tough was last season? "Year one was hard. There were a lot of ups and downs. We learned a lot, but I think as well we had a lot of bad luck our way. There's no question. That's not made up. We really had a lot of things that could have gone either way -- that went to the bad way. I think we ended with a lot of momentum and we ended a lot more competitive to where we could run and we could compare a lot more things to Brian (Vickers). That's going to help us a lot this year."
How confident are you heading into this year? "Most racing drivers are confident. I've certainly been a confident racing driver my whole life. For me, when you race since you were 10-years-old, you sort of figure out how to get the whole mental aspect down. If you don't, you don't make it this far. All those things -- the confidence, the preparation, the mental focus and all that -- that takes care of itself."
What one thing would you like to accomplish this year? "We just want to be able to run well more consistently. We had a lot of places last year were we ran well and then the next weekend we thought we'd run really well again and we struggled. So, if we can do that this year I think that will be a big success."
What is the next step for your team this year? "I think the next step is the top-five in the points. Last year, we set our goals to sit on a pole, win a race and make the Chase and we accomplished all three of those. We burned ourselves out getting into the Chase because of the mistakes we made early in the season and we had to make up for them. And then by the time we got into the Chase, in a lot of ways we were burned out. We made mistakes in the Chase that cost us a shot at the championship. Can we run for a championship? Absolutely. There were 10 races last year that we collected the most points. But, realistically what is the next step for a team of our age and our maturity is probably a top-five in points. I think if we can repeat what we did last year plus be in the top-five it would be a really good year."
What is the most important thing about the Chase that fans might not see? "Managing those emotions and distractions and everything that comes along with being in the Chase. People get to see bits and pieces of it, but then when you add it all together it's a lot and there's a lot of added intensity, attention, distractions, media pressure and a lot of different things. The intensity level of the teams, the drivers and everybody within that Chase really kind of goes up once you get into the Chase. That's something we learned last year. We really kind of burned ourselves out going into the Chase and we were just worn down by the time we started it in a lot of ways as a team. We really have got to learn how to pace ourselves more going into it with the idea of performing better while we are in it. Obviously, you do that and you have to set yourself up early in the season to almost lock yourself into the Chase or be in a good position that you can rest before the Chase which we didn't do last year and that's kind of our goal this year."
Did you do anything over the off-season to stay in shape? "When I was in Austria for Red Bull we did some snowmobile racing. It wasn't quite go-karting but it was Snowmobile X. You had a lot of the Red Bull athletes and drivers from around the world and we competed in a snowmobile race. A couple of the Red Bull downhill skiers who used to race snowmobiles obviously won the race which was a bit of an unfair advantage growing up racing snowmobiles, but I had a lot of fun. It was pretty cool. Those snowmobiles really get on with it. There were some jumps in there where we were traveling a good bit through the air, that's for sure."
What do you think of the rule changes at Daytona this year? "I'm looking forward to it. I think it's good. Last year and the past several years in this sport, we've kind of shied away and we've gotten more and more conservative and I think it's the wrong direction. This sport is about energy and intensity. Gladiators are supposed to be driving cars at 200 miles per hour and going into Talladega last year you've got a couple guys who were complaining about bumping and quite frankly, we looked like a bunch of pansies. We weren't even allowed to bump. To me that just seemed weird. The policies going into Daytona this year where it's kind of a 'police yourself' is the way it should be. That doesn't mean that I want somebody to hit me in the middle of a turn and turn me around."
How do you stop drivers from bumping you in the corner and wrecking you? "It is a self-policing policy. If someone wrecks me this weekend at Daytona in the middle of (turns) one and two then I'm going to wreck him next weekend. If somebody hits me too hard and they wreck me then there's going to be a price to pay. I'm going to wreck them next week. It worked for many, many years. I don't think it's something that NASCAR should have to be involved in and if we wreck each other and we all wreck ourselves then so be it. The last thing I want to do is see myself or anyone get hurt but if all you're worried about is not about racing whatsoever and you just worry about safety then why do we even come here. We should just stay home instead of having a bunch of guys go out there and not pass each other, not race, not bump. That's not what I came here for. That's just my opinion." How difficult was it to come into the Sprint Cup Series at such a young age?
"It is definitely tough. I think that there's so much. It's really not what happens as much on the race track as what happens off the race track. There's so much to being in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. There's so much. Any pro sport whether it be the Sprint Cup Series, the NFL, MLB -- there's so much that takes place and so much that happens. You are pulled in so many different directions. It's being able to manage all of that and all of what happens off of the race track more so than actually just driving the car sometimes. As a young adult that's difficult to manage sometimes especially without the right guidance and the right person kind of being a mentor to you. I was lucky to have Jeff (Gordon) and Rick (Hendrick) and people to help me along the way, but my philosophy has always been this and if I can do it all over again I probably would've waited another year, I would've run another year of Nationwide. You can't really come too late but you can always come too early. So I always caution young drivers that want to move up at a really, really young age and basically tell them that. Rarely do they listen, they want to get here as fast as they can, but that's the truth."
Do you think teams should limit what drivers can do away from the race track with the injuries drivers are experiencing? "That is the one I always go back and forth with. Knock on wood, I haven't been hurt and I hope I never will be, but there's always that chance. I can't see Red Bull ever limiting things. There may be other teams that limit it and some already do to a large degree, but Red Bull is not one of them I can assure you. I don't want to say this and jinx myself -- I really don't. I try not to be superstitious but when I make comments like this it makes me nervous. The truth is we can get hurt doing anything. The off-weekend when Carl (Edwards) broke his ankle playing frisbee I did a three-day school on super bikes doing 170 miles per hour with my knee dragging on the ground. Arguably going into that off-weekend if you were a betting man the odds were not on me in Vegas. They were 100 percent for Carl (Edwards) because he was just having a friendly game playing frisbee and he ended up getting hurt. So, I guess the point of the story is that can I really hurt myself on that motorcycle? Can I hurt myself skydiving? Can Denny (Hamlin) hurt himself playing basketball? Absolutely. But you can also hurt yourself falling down the stairs. You can also hurt yourself throwing a frisbee. You can't live your life afraid to do anything because you're going to be miserable. In anything you do physically active to try to stay in shape so when you get to the race track you're a better race car driver there's going to be risks. I don't care if it's lifting weights, running on a treadmill, if it's playing basketball, frisbee golf -- there's always going to be risks. There are risks when you walk down the stairs out of the bus going to practice. I live my life to the fullest extent that I can and I do what I want to do and I love it. I try to take reasonable precautions. I try to be as educated as possible about the activity that I'm doing and I'm trying to do it with the best guys that I can to limit that risk as much as possible, but I'm still going to do it. And if I get hurt, it sucks."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, No. 51 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Do you think next week's Daytona 500 will be the last time you will drive a Sprint Cup Series car? "No, I don't. But if it were, then I could live with that. I've over-exceeded what 99 percent of kids that want to be race car drivers ever could have hoped to accomplish. First of all, it just makes me thank God for the last 24 years -- I was able to show up and race my car. I had a sponsor, I had a team, I was healthy -- I didn't get sick and I didn't wreck and hurt myself. To be able to say that and know that I've won eight races and especially won on the biggest stage we have, I'm thankful and I'm happy. I also feel like there are still some races for me to win. I think I can win this race and certainly there's one in Talladega in a couple of months that I know I have the knowledge and the capability to win. If the opportunity presents itself to run some races then that's what I want to do. I'll tell you something funny -- when I announced that I was going to retire -- or whatever you want to call it, I didn't know for sure what I was going to do. Every time somebody would call and say, 'Hey, do you want to do this?' I would say, 'Yeah, I'll do that.' I've agreed to everything that anyone asked and so out of that I get to be on the new show on Showtime, 'Inside NASCAR,' which I think is great for our sport and it will be fun for me. I'm working on some things for Speed that I will be doing. I might race a truck a few times -- haven't worked all that out yet. Went to Dubai and raced a Ferrari. Went to New York and was on 'Hannity,' so it's been fun being retired, but like any retired dude, I know how retired people are in that as soon as they're retired they want to figure out what they want to do next and that's sort of how I've been."
Are you transitioning into the role of car owner by getting away from driving? "Ultimately car owner, I said when I started my team that I knew I couldn't drive forever, but I could be a car owner forever. Ultimately, that's my goal is to be a winning, championship car owner. Being on that Showtime show for NASCAR is good for NAPA. I don't even have to say NAPA anymore and people will think it when they see me and it's good for all of my sponsors. A presence in front of the camera, a presence on TV shows is something that I think is important for the owner of MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing). Michael Waltrip Racing needs a presence like that out and about in the world. The drivers can only do so much. I will continue to be on TV and look to race occasionally, do fun things like Fifth-Grader ('Are you Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?') and Earl ('My Name is Earl'). Whatever it takes to continue a presence, I think that's important for MWR."
What satisfaction do you get from being a car owner? "I remember the best time in my life as a race car driver was from September of 2000 until the last lap of the Daytona 500. I walked around DEI (Dale Earnhardt Incorporated) with Dale (Earnhardt) and you could just tell that people wanted their cars to go fast for that man. Dale was there, that's who their boss was, and they wanted to make sure their cars were fast. We believed when we started that race here in 2001 that we were going to win. That's where our brains were and it was because of the passion of the folks that worked on those cars and built those cars at DEI. At Michael Waltrip Racing, I see it again. I see when I'm walking on the shop floor that people are happy to work there, they want to go the extra mile, do whatever they can to win because they know that my name is on that place and I'm the one that owns it. They know how to find me if they have a problem and I'm also the guy that they can find if they like where they work and they just want to say, 'Thank you.' I guess the joy that I get out of it is what the people that work there and work for us give me and that is the appreciation for the opportunity and then the focus to do it better than it has ever been done before. That's their goal."
What type of progress have you seen with your race team? "I like to think about this because very rarely are things black and white in the world and this is black and white. In 2007, we missed races, we barely survived. In 2008, we made every race, but I could have won two races -- I ran second at Loudon (N.H.), but we weren't competitive, we were okay though. In 2009, we contended for a spot in the Chase, we won a race -- that's the kind of progression you want to see on paper. When you sit down and write your business plan, that's what it's supposed to look like -- very rarely does it go to plan, but we went into 2009 and we couldn't have said that we were going to win or we were going to compete for the Chase because I didn't have the history to back that up. Now as we look at 2010 and the additions we've made, the key people that have been there since the beginning -- we have to think we can race in this Chase and we can win more than one race. I can't wait to watch it all unfold because I believe we've prepared to be in a really good position."
Does a driver have to win races to remain relevant in NASCAR? "Eventually. I raced cars for a long time and I didn't win then just luckily for me NAPA started making some TV commercials and I started winning races. All of the sudden, I was a lot more popular than I'd ever been. The key to it was winning races. You can be well-spoken and you can be popular with the media, a lot of fans can love you, but that will all go away if you don't put your car in victory lane. That has led a lot to me saying that I'm not going to race every weekend anymore because I haven't shown lately that I have the ability to go win one of these darn races. I believe in my heart I can win Daytona and I know I can win Talladega, but other than that I haven't shown the speed. Winning is what it's all about."
-source: toyota motorsports