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Interview

Logano believes Penske "the most professional organization out here"

Joey Logano is taking his encumbered win in stride.

Race winner Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Race winner Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Race winner Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Race winner Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford pit crewman
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford, Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Race winner Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Todd Gordon
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford, Todd Gordon

While he collected his 18th career Monster Energy Cup Series victory last week at Richmond International Raceway, the driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford will not receive the perks that accompany his achievement after NASCAR penalized the team for a rear suspension infraction.

Gone is his crew chief Todd Gordon for two weeks. Gone is his ability to automatically qualify for the Playoffs with a check in the win column. Gone are 25 points for himself and team owner Roger Penske. And gone are the five bonus points he would have received for a legal win. That’s what Logano says hurt the most. 

"Very small" issue

But he doesn’t view this win differently than any other. 

“What happened was something that’s very, very small,” Logano told Motorsport.com. “What we got in trouble for was something that really didn’t make our car any faster. It wasn’t enough to make it much faster, so, personally inside, I still look at it as a win. Obviously, from the outside we’ve lost all the benefits of the win. We’ve lost the playoff points. We’ve lost a lot of regular points. We’ve lost our crew chief for a couple of weeks. We’ve lost some cash. The penalty is pretty severe.  

“With that being said, it wasn’t like it was a big thing, but the rule is written and it’s black and white. We pushed a little bit too far and we’ll pay that penalty and move on and attack again. The silver lining to it all is I think this team has a great attitude and we’re able to obviously race very hard and we race aggressively, whether that’s apparently everywhere, but we race aggressive on the race track and off the race track and that’s why we’re successful and that’s why we win races, and we’re gonna continue to do that because we’ve got the right attitude to go out there and push hard.”

"I drive the car"

Logano, who was already popped for swerving at Bristol Motor Speedway two races ago, and served a 30-minute practice hold at Richmond was adamant that the penalty had nothing to do with swerving to reset the rear suspension of the car. When asked a second time about swerving, after his teammate Brad Keselowski swerved during the cool down lap at Richmond and NASCAR officials found nothing wrong with the No. 2 Ford in post-race, Logano deferred to Penske management.

“Like I said, I drive the car,” Logano said. “I don’t really know what’s underneath it, to be honest with you, all the time. From what I was told we had a small gap underneath the truck arm to the housing, from what I was told and what I understand of it.  

“It’s very, very small. The rule is black and white that it must be flush and we apparently had a little bit of a gap. Like I said, it wasn’t a big deal, but it is black and white and for that reason we’ll have to pay a penalty for that.”

While the infraction may be small — as in 32nd of an inch — the loss of points, $50,000 and Gordon for the weekend is not. And compared to the penalty handed to the No. 2 Team Penske Ford that was busted following the race at Phoenix International Raceway after failing the Laser Inspection Station and docked 35 points, a three-race suspension for crew chief Paul Wolfe as well as an encumbered finish (fifth), it does pale in comparison to some degree. 

Pushing the limit

But as for Team Penske starting to earn a reputation breaking the rules, Logano found the accusation undeserved. 

“Honestly, I don’t believe that we wear a black hat or anything like that,” Logano said. “I think we’re the most professional organization out here. We push as hard as we can because we’re looking for hundredths of a second – every race team is – the fact of the matter is we’re winning right now and when your car wins it gets put through tech a lot.  

“That’s the way I look at it is we’re successful right now and that’s why our car has to go through tech, and that’s just part of it, but we’re gonna have to push as hard as we can to be successful, and sometimes you go over that line. 

“Apparently, every now and again you may, but you have to find that edge and get right to it, and it’s a fine line.  If you go a little bit over, we’re sitting with what we’re talking about today.  That’s clear.  The communication is clear to the race team about that, but we have to get as close to that edge as we possibly can to be successful and to actually win races.”

A team full of talent

Logano’s race engineer Miles Stanley and veteran crew chief Greg Erwin will pick up the slack in the absence of Gordon. Although the situation isn’t ideal, Logano believes with the strength of the No. 22 Team Penske crew they will persevere. 

“We have a lot of depth at Team Penske that we can look back at that and we’ll have Greg up on the box on Sunday,” Logano said. “We’ll have Miles our race engineer, which is involved with every step of the way every single week with Todd every weekend, so that will be a great fit. He’s been with us for a while now and he knows me and we have a great relationship as well. He knows the right questions to ask me to get the information out that he needs to make the adjustments. 

“So is it gonna be tough? Yes. Do I feel like we’re prepared as we possibly can be? Yes.”

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