JOEY LOGANO, No.20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What's your mindset going into the 2011 season?
"We really did a good job of coming down the homestretch there with the streak of finishes we had. We just have to be able to do that all year and have solid top-10 runs. If we have a bad day, we have to be 15th to 20th on a real bad day. We have to do whatever we can do to get the best finishes we can. That's what those guys do to make the Chase every year."
What stopped you from making the Chase last year?
"I don't believe in luck, I believe you create your own luck. A lot of times there's things you can't control. There's a lot of different things. I feel like the chemistry between me and Zip (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) right now is great. We ended the year on a strong note. When things are going good, you'd be amazed at how much a bad day can be turned around. If you have that momentum on your side, you can turn around a bad day pretty quick. When things keep going bad, it's hard. We went through that part through the summer last year, we went through those tough times. The cool thing is we dug ourselves out of there and we ended it good. I'm excited. Our test in Daytona went really good, I'm pumped up about that. Our Home Depot Toyota is very fast. When we get back down there I'll be pretty excited to see how we run. We didn't get in a big enough pack like we wanted to when we were down there, but there was a lot of two car draft pushing like Talladega -- that should be fun."
Will you be disappointed if you don't make the Chase this year?
"We want to make the Chase for sure. I definitely think we're Chase caliber now. Now that the points are a little bit different, that will be interesting to see. Winning races will be a huge deal to be able to get in there. We'll just see."
Do you think you flew under the radar with the momentum you carried at the end of the 2010 season?
"That's fine, I'm good with under the radar as long as I get my good runs and hopefully sneak out a few wins this year. I'm alright with that. I don't need to be in the middle of all the drama, I just want to win races."
Do you feel like you made progress during your sophomore season?
"At the end, for sure. We definitely learned a lot this last season and a lot that we were able to put to use for the end of the year. The biggest thing was that me and Zip (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) were getting along great. We figured out what makes our wheels turn. It takes different things for everybody to make things work. We kind of figured each other out and what each other likes. That really shows on the race track."
Is there any area you need to work on this year?
"There's a lot of little things. This sport is built up on a lot of little things. You look at a tenth of a second is so much. We're looking for a little here and a little there all the time. I watched a lot of races during the off-season. I get bored and just want to watch a race because there's not enough racing on TV for me. When they run the replays and stuff, I'll watch them. I just watch myself and see some of the things I did on the track and say, `Okay, I could have done that better.' Just make a mental note of it. Try to improve yourself the best way you can. Hang out with your guys, try to keep building that up. That's about all you can do during the offseason. There's not a whole bunch you can do."
How important is the Chase wild card?
"It depends if I win a lot of races. If not, I guess not. It's the same for everybody. That's really the big deal. It makes sense that some of the guys that won a lot of races last year, didn't make the Chase -- doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I think it's a good call what (NASCAR) did. I think it's one of those deals, if you're eighth in points, you're not secured in there and you're going to have to win some races. Winning races is going to be a lot bigger deal than what it used to be."
Do you feel more comfortable and more confident now?
"I feel a lot more comfortable. I feel like this is my team now. The Home Depot Toyota has been around forever, yes, but I feel like they're mine now. All the guys are behind me 110 percent. I come in with a lot of confidence, too, which is huge. Confidence is a lot to be said for sure."
Did you have a wild off season like you had after the 2009 season?
"If you call Kyle's (Busch) wedding wild, that might have been. That's about it. I didn't do a whole bunch. I was all about two to four hour road trips. I'd take a road trip every once in a while on the weekends. I'd pack up some of my friends and go places, hang out. That's about it, not much. During the week I'd be at the shop a lot, doing things like that. Nothing too crazy. I like being at home every once in a while. I'm a new home owner, so I'm all about trying to figure out how to decorate this place, which I don't know -- I have no sense of style. We're figuring that out. I'm loving it. You'd be surprised how much money I've spent at the Home Depot. Wholly cow -- I'm there a lot."
Do you think NASCAR letting drivers be themselves last year made a difference?
"I think it definitely puts a lot in the sport. It's racing, it's letting racers be racers. People get in grudge matches and stuff like that all the time. It may have been hidden a little bit more than what it was this year. That might have been the only difference. I thought it was good. As a race fan, which I am before anything else, I thought it was interesting. I watch all the race shows and all -- I loved it. I think they've done a good job with it and it shows a real side of people."
How will Joe Gibbs Racing perform this season?
"We just have to keep working hard and I think these guys really do. It showed towards the end of the year. All three of our cars were running really good -- all of us were. That goes back to the guys in the shop in the engineering department, everybody -- they're always looking for something. When you work on these things so much, it's hard to believe there's more in them. They're always finding a little bit more and that's what you have to do to be up top and stay up top. Everyone else is doing it, so we have to work that little bit harder to be there."
Have you gained the respect of your competitors?
"I think so. I felt like this year, especially towards the end I was two-and-a-half-years into the deal. I feel like I belong here, this is me. I'm here now, I'm one of the guys if you want to say that. I didn't want to get pushed around anymore. I felt like I definitely earned a lot more respect out there than what it's been before. You have to earn your stripes at first, I believe. You have to take some every once in a while and eventually you can't put up with it anymore."
Did you learn anything from Denny Hamlin's run for the championship last year?
"You must do what it takes. You definitely watch and you try to learn for some day when you are in his (Denny Hamlin) shoes and you do the same thing. You want to know. There's not many opportunities when you're in those shoes to be able to win a championship. When you get there, you don't want to blow it basically. You watch and you learn and listen. Some of the things that he did was very impressive. Digging out of a hole, getting himself back up front in the championship was pretty cool. It was cool to watch and see what he did and how into it he was. He's very disciplined on being in there and he had a game plan throughout the whole Chase, which is pretty impressive. You think as you race, you just go out there to win a race. He had a game plan with the way he was going to race and finish up front every week."
What does it feel like to be with such an established team like Joe Gibbs Racing?
"It's real cool. The company has been around as long as I've been alive. That's pretty neat to be involved with that. Being up there with some great drivers. Dale Jarrett wasn't here today, but with Smoke (Tony Stewart), Bobby (Labonte), Kyle (Busch) and Denny (Hamlin) -- all of them up there was really cool. To be involved in that group and being able to sit there with them was a real feeling. I still think of a kid that grew up in Connecticut just wanting to drive race cars. I still pinch myself. I'm still a race fan before I was anything else. I'm just lucky to be sitting here, driving the Home Depot Toyota."
What have you learned from Joe Gibbs during your time at the team?
"It's like Tony (Stewart) said earlier, for someone that could win championships in two different sports like that, multiple championships is impressive. These sports aren't easy. You're talking about two of the most competitive sports. When you get to the top of any sport, it's unreal the competition. It's very hard. Anyone that can do that, obviously knows what he's (Joe Gibbs) talking about. You almost look at him as a grandfather. You listen to him. He's full of knowledge -- look at him up there. He's got a ton of knowledge, he's been through a lot of situations. The way he lives his life, following God obviously and the way he works with people -- all that stuff is really cool to be involved with a company like that. Obviously, I look up to him, I think everybody looks up to Joe Gibbs one way or another, for sure."
-source: toyota motorsports