Joey Logano press conference at Daytona Media Day

Joey Logano: “I think you always see the Number 3 car as Dale Earnhardt."

Joey Logano press conference at Daytona Media Day

JOEY LOGANO – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion – “The big thing for us this year is we don’t have much change within our organization. All of the crew chiefs, all of the drivers at Team Penske stayed the same, and we were able to build off of what we had last year, so that’s really important right now. You look at last year how much stuff we changed going into the season – new driver, the crew chief stayed the same, but we had a new engineer, a new car chief and all of that now is the same and we’re able to just kind of build off where we finished last year, so last year we had a pretty decent year but now we’re able to build off something to make it even better. We’re excited about that.”

Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford

Photo by: Trevor Horn

ANY ADVENTURES GETTING HERE TODAY? “We had plenty of adventures. I’m glad I’ve got a Ford Raptor because that’s a lot of fun in the snow.

It does great donuts, by the way, but it also got me to the airport this morning and I flew down with Jeff Gordon, so we had a little adventure getting down there, but not many cars on the highway this morning in North Carolina, if you were wondering, and the roads aren’t plowed.”

WHEN WERE YOU SUPPOSED TO FLY? “The team plane was supposed to fly out about 6 o’clock this morning, but that plane was out in California with the IndyCar team testing and trying to get them back, and really the problem wasn’t landing or taking off with the airplane, but what they were thinking about was the guys getting home because not everyone has a four-wheel drive car, so everyone has to try to get home. Early in the morning the roads aren’t prepared the way they need to be and there aren’t as many cars driven on them, so they’re all over the place. We were able to hop on Jeff Gordon’s plane. Last night we kind of figured this all out and came down to see all of you guys.”

PLUS TWO, RIGHT? “Plus, three. I had me, Jeremy and my fiancé all came down.”

WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO THE NEW QUALIFYING? “There is a lot that’s gonna go into it and I think we all have a lot to learn on how we want to approach it. I think you have to have a gameplan for what you think your car is gonna have. In practice you’re gonna know if you have a car that can make the final 12 or a car that’s really in the second group. You’re gonna know and then I think you’re gonna have to change your gameplan as it goes because if you’re sitting near that bubble spot what do you do? Do you go back out and put more heat in your motor and more laps on your tires and heat in your tires? Or do you just kind of wait it out and hopefully no one bumps you. How much time is left while you’re doing all of this? There’s a lot that’s gonna go into this and we have a lot to learn, but there’s also a lot of questions. It’s stuff we’ve all been going through. We’ve been trying to figure out what is the best way to do it and what we’ve got to do to the cars with the adjustments you’re gonna have to make. You can’t run full tape. If you can’t cool these motors down in between, you can’t run full tape for three sessions or two sessions in that case, so we’ve got to really figure out what the best way to cool it is for timing on how to do all of this, there’s just a lot that’s gonna go into it and we’ve got some decent gameplans.”

WILL IT CHANGE FROM TRACK TO TRACK? “It will change from track to track a lot. If you take a little bit of tape off the grille and the amount of downforce that it changes, you have to make the adjustments to overcome that, so knowing that going into it is gonna be difficult for each track. You’ve kind of got to build your notebook up for that, so these first few races are gonna be entertaining – not to mention when you’re on the track and the timing is gonna go into it also with how many cars are out there? That’s the biggest risk you’ve got when you go out there right now. Take Atlanta for a scenario, you go out there and someone gets in your way – the car is shut off or something happens in front of you – your second lap is never gonna be fast enough to make the second group. I don’t care if you’re the fastest car there, your second lap is probably not gonna be very good, so you’ve got to time it right. There is gonna be a lot that goes into it and the spotter is gonna come into play a lot.”

WHERE DOES YOUR WORK ETHIC COME FROM? “Work ethic is basically how much drive you have to win and how bad you want it. All of the guys here are here for a reason. They obviously have wanted it pretty bad to get here, so I think you just naturally have it. I don’t think it’s where you get it from. My family is definitely the same as me My father has the same drive I do to become successful in what he’s done, so I think that’s just kind of the way you’ve been brought up and I think some of it is just natural.”

DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST WHEELS? “I remember I was like six and Santa Claus brought me a go-kart and it was the best gift I ever got. I love it. I’ve still got it actually, which is really cool.”

WHY DO YOU THINK NASCAR MADE SO MANY CHANGES TO THE CHASE? “I think we needed it. You look at other sports – college football is changing their structure. We’re to the point we needed to make a change and do something to get it livened up a little bit. It’s definitely gonna change it up. Think about how much we’re talking about it. This is good. We need this for our sport and I think the guys who wins the championship is gonna be a deserving guy. The final four guys are not gonna be there by chance.”

DOES IT HURT THE INTEGRITY OF THE SPORT TO HAVE SUCH A DRASTIC CHANGE? “No. We’re still the same drivers. We’re still the same teams. We’re still a bunch of badass race car drivers for lack of better words. You’re still gonna see that out there. There is gonna be great racing and really what you’re gonna see is people going for it because every three races you’re gonna have that make-it or break-it moment. You’re gonna have that third-down scenario or that Richmond scenario where you either win or you’re out, and that’s pretty cool. Our year last year, we go to Chicago and we have an engine failure. It’s hard to overcome that throughout the rest of the Chase. This gives you an opportunity to reset, make that first cutoff, reset and go at it again. Or you win and you’re able to go to the next round if you wreck in two of them, so it keeps you in the game a little longer.”

WITH THE COMPETITION BEING SO CLOSE HOW DO YOU HANDLE FRIENDSHIPS IN THE GARAGE? “I don’t think it really changes that much. You’re out there to win anyway. What changes? Last I checked I strapped in every race I’ve ever gotten in to was to win, not to make friends or have a good time. I’m not here to have fun, I’m here to win a race. There are gonna be those moments you have to win, but I don’t think it changes my mentality from what I had. I’m not thinking any different. I’m gonna try to win and do everything I can possibly do. Now, on the other hand, if you do get in a crash or whatever happens there are gonna be consequences because we’re still racing against the same people every week. You know when something happens, you’re gonna get it back I promise you one way or another. It might be years from now, but it will come back to you. It’s a circle and you’ve got to know that when you’re making these decisions.”

IS IT EASY TO KNOW THE SCORECARD? “If you don’t know, they remind you pretty quick. I would say yes.”

THOUGHTS ON NASCAR SALARIES TO OTHER SPORTS? “It’s a hard comparison because our sport has to spend a lot of money in other areas that other sports may not have to spend as much in. You look at the development of our race cars and our race teams. When you’re looking at 400 employees for three race teams basically at Team Penske that’s a big expense, not to mention all the equipment we’ve got there and the building. That’s where your money is. Other sports, the biggest thing they have to pay for is their athlete, their quarterback or the whole team. Ours is really what we’ve got to do to build a race car because that’s what makes our team, and then you plug the driver in and that’s a big expense in a race team, but it’s hard to make that all work. If you’re gonna pay – like some baseball teams pay $10-20 million dollars, how are you gonna make that work if we’re already struggling to make ends meet. So I think all of us drivers realize that. We love this sport. We’re gonna race all the time and any time we can, and I think that’s the case in any other sport, but that’s just the cards we’re dealt here in this sport and it’s what we have to do to make ends meet.”

TONY STEWART IS COMING BACK FROM A SERIOUS INJURY. DO YOU EXPECT HIM TO COME BACK AND BE FULL STRENGTH? “Oh yeah. I think he’ll be fine. Tony is the only one that can answer that question, but from what I’ve learned over the years don’t ever underestimate your competition, and I’m not counting him out. There are 43 cars out there and 43 cars that can win, and that’s the way you have to look at him. You start underestimating your competition and that’s when they’ll sneak up and bite you, so I’ll say he will be in contention and he’ll be in contention as soon as he gets out on the track.”

YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE 3 CAR RETURNING? DO YOU SEE IT AS AUSTIN’S CAR OR DALE’S CAR? “I think you always see the Number 3 car as Dale Earnhardt. That’s the iconic number that has taken him around and won seven championships and a boat load of races and became the Intimidator – the black Number 3. That’s the way it will always be. I don’t think Austin is trying to take that away from him. It seems to me like something that is cool to bring the number back. I think it’s cool to see it out there, but I think no matter what it’s always gonna be Dale’s number.”

WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT DALE’S RACING? “I was nine when it happened. I remember watching the race and remember watching Mike Helton go up there and talk to the press about it. When you’re nine you don’t really understand the significance of what happened as much as you probably should, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve understood it and I’m like, ‘That was a big moment for our industry.’ But for every bad thing that happens something good happens and you look at where our cars are now and where our sport is now, a lot of it is because of that day. Yes, it was a terrible day, but we were able to build something off of that and that’s important.”

HOW DO YOU ASSESS THE HEALTH OF RACING? “I feel we’re working on it. Obviously, it’s not that bad. We’ve all got a job. Everyone here is working, so that’s good. We want be as positive as we can to keep this going and I think we’re making the right changes. We’ve got to make changes to make sure everybody stays here, and we’re doing that. I feel like we are going in the right direction and we’re able to keep the interest in the sport and keep working off that younger demographic and try to get that Generation Y here to the race track and understand what we do because what we do is really cool. It’s a matter of getting it out there. We already have a great fan base. Look at the amount of fans that still come to the races. It’s great, so the way I look at it I don’t see this sport being in trouble at all. I feel like we’re doing a good job and these changes we’re making this year is to try to make something good even better.”

HOW IMPORTANT ARE THESE CHANGES IN KEEPING THE INTEREST HIGH? “Yeah, I think they’re very important because you’ve got to keep that excitement level. Things get stale eventually if you keep doing the same things over and over and over again. When you’re changing things up, it keeps that excitement there and, like I said, we’re not the only sport doing this. This is what you’ve got to do to stay on top. Jimmie is not doing the same thing every year to win because we all would have caught up to him by now or passed him, so he’s always looking for that next thing as all of us should, and that’s including our series.”

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