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Joey Logano New Hampshire Media Availability

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Cup Series
NCS Qualifying | Saturday, June 22, 2024

Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang Dark Horse met with media members at New Hampshire Motor Speedway ahead of Cup Series on-track action Saturday afternoon.

Joey Logano, No. 22 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang Dark Horse — COULD I ASK YOU TO LOOK BACK AND REFLECT ON YOUR FIRST START UP HERE AS A NEW ENGLAND GUY COMING UP TO THIS TRACK TO GET YOUR FIRST OPPORTUNITY? “Yeah, there are so many memories for me any time I pull into Loudoun here. Some of my first ones are just coming up here to watch, watching the Bush North Series and going camping out here with my parents. I think it was like 1996 when I came out here to watch my first time. I was 6 or 7 years old. It was a fun race to watch. I remember I was hooked after that. I was racing quarter midgets at the time, but the first time you see a professional sport as a kid, it’s magic. It’s the magic mile. It was a really special thing. And then starting my first Cup race here, it went really hard. But then getting my first Cup win here was great. I think it was back in 14 or 15 when we won here last. So yeah, definitely a lot of great memories here. And they all come rushing back as soon as we drive back into this place. Yesterday, we landed and driving in they all come back as you see the sign driving down the road and pulling into the infield.”

ARE YOU AWARE OF THE NEW DARKNESS POLICY WHERE THEY’RE GONNA SET A TIME, THEY’RE GONNA TELL YOU WHAT TIME THE RACE IS GONNA END RATHER THAN A LAP AND THEN ONCE THEY SET THAT TIME ONCE THAT CLOCK HITS THAT TIME, LEADER CROSSES START FINISH, THEN THE NEXT TIME THEY TAKE THE WHITE AND THE NEXT TIME THEY TAKE THE CHECKER. RATHER THAN GIVING YOU, SAYING LIKE, THE LAP IS GONNA END AT LAP 75. “I like that. At what point are they gonna tell us that?”

I THINK EARLIER THAN LATER, BUT YOU NEVER KNOW. I’M CURIOUS, AS A GUY WHO’S ON THIS BUBBLE DOES THAT MAKE THINGS ANY EASIER AS FAR AS STRATEGY POTENTIALLY? “Yeah, I mean, the last thing you want as a competitor is to be competing and the strategy of the race dictated by the unknown. That is the last thing you want, right? But if you know, hey, the race is going to end at 8.30, whatever it is. OK, we know that. And we can play the strategy off of that. Instead of it being, well, hey, we’re going to run another 50 laps. You’re like, oh, jeez, we ought to change our strategy completely if that was the case. So if that’s something that they can broadcast, even going into the weekend, if we kind of have a general idea of when the sun’s going to go down. I’m sure if the skies are overcast and all those types of things it probably changes that number some, but I think having a ballpark idea, if there’s weather in the area and it seems like we’re going to be pushed late, what that’s going to look like is, I think, a great idea. I like it.”

NOW THAT YOU HAVE A FAMILY AND THE KIDS ARE GROWING UP, HOW DOES IT FEEL TO RETURN TO NEW ENGLAND WITH THEM? AND HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO CREATE ANY MORE MEMORIES WITH THEM HERE AND I’M SURE THE GREATER NEW ENGLAND AREA? “Well, I’m hoping to create one this weekend. That would be great. But there’s still a lot of memories being made for sure. I’ve got Hudson up here with me this weekend and yeah we have fun anytime we go to racetrack it’s just more enjoyable when your kids are there especially when you win and those pictures and all that. I don’t know how much he’ll remember when he gets older anyway but I know he’s about the same age that I was when I came here for the first time now so definitely it’s a pretty sentimental thing. It’s kind of a special thing for sure.”

HOW DO YOU HANDLE THESE NEXT FEW RACES TRYING TO MAKE IT TO THE PLAYOFFS? “I mean, it doesn’t really change much. It just kind of puts you, honestly, in playoff mode a little bit sooner because you’re racing as if you’re in the playoffs, right? You’re not kind of clicked in to where you’re already in. You’re just racing to get playoff points anywhere you can, right? You can’t take as big of risks on certain things because you can’t afford last week to blow a tire. Can’t afford to do it. So it definitely adjusts some of your setup choices, some of the way you drive, some of the way you call the race in general. I mean it goes through your mind, it has to go through your mind. At the same time you still know what a win’s worth, so you gotta go out there and win the race. You don’t just stay on points racing and just lay up, right? You can’t do that. But you definitely got to play it smart and not be caution to the wind type of situation. Whereas if you were locked in, you maybe go for that, right? If there was an opportunity to win the race or finish 20th versus the call that may be a solid fifth-place finish, you probably can’t afford to finish 20th right now. Some of those things have got to go through your mind. And it may change just on the speed you have in your car and stuff like that. It can go back and forth. And emotions can probably get in the middle of that when you’re making decisions on the racetrack. It’s one thing to say it here. It’s another thing to say it when your helmet’s on. But that’s just our sport. That’s the position that we’re in right now. I feel good about our chances of getting in. But it’s not as comfortable as we want it to be, that’s for sure.”

WE’RE COMING UP ON THE HALFWAY POINT OF THE SEASON. HOW DO YOU GRADE YOUR TEAM’S PERFORMANCE THROUGH THE FIRST 18 RACES? AND THEN DO YOU HAVE A HIGHLIGHT JUST FOR NASCAR AS A WHOLE THROUGH THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON, YOUR ASSESSMENT OF WHAT’S GOING ON AS A WHOLE? “Yeah I’d say for us obviously not where we want to be. We just talked about not being locked in the playoffs. At this point you kind of expect to be locked in the playoffs for the 22 team right? But you know to put a grade on it I don’t know it’s kind of hard to do sometimes because it depends on the weekends and honestly it depends on the type of track. You look at the short tracks here recently it’s hard to not say it, we’re pretty comfortable with it, feel good about our chances of winning on short tracks. The mile and a half’s don’t quite feel that way yet. A lot of work to do there, so probably depends on the track that we grade differently. And then, highlights in the season, boy, I mean, quite a few really close finishes, you know, if you look at the sport as a whole, I mean, that’s some really cool things that have happened there. I’d probably have to say the finishes, the way these things have gone, have been pretty exhilarating.”

IS IT ALMOST BENEFICIAL TO THE 22 TEAM TO BE GOING THROUGH THIS PROCESS AND HAVING TO CLEAN EVERYTHING UP AND KIND OF FOCUS ON JUST MAKING THE PLAYOFFS? “I mean I think the team does a good job being under pressure right our team knows how to handle it because we’ve been in the playoffs so many times. We put ourselves in the Championship Four so many times that we know how to handle these situations and your backs up against the wall. It’s not ever comfortable, to your point. It’s not where you want to be. It’s not fun but it’s not out of the norm for us either to know how to handle these type of scenarios.”

DO YOU THINK THAT SHANE VAN GISBERGEN WILL HAVE AS MUCH OF AN ADVANTAGE ON YOU ALL IF IT’S DRY IN CHICAGO WHEN WE GET THERE IN TWO WEEKS? “I don’t think it will be as much of an advantage, but there’s no doubt that street courses seem to be his wheelhouse. There’s no doubt he’s good on road courses as well, like the typical road courses. He’s great at those as well, but it did seem like a street course he felt way more at home when we all felt like a fish out of water going around that racetrack. Then you added rain. It was perfect for him and he capitalized as he should. For 99% of the field that was the first time for any of us to do anything like that and we all have very limited experience of racing in the rain. We also had a lot to lose where he had nothing to lose. We’re getting another lose right like though you look at those walls. You’re like a lot of points in those walls. You look at those walls and it is like, whoa, there are a lot of points in those walls. For him, who cared? I think all those things weighed into it for sure. I think this year, now that we all have a general idea of what we’re going into, we can prepare for it. It’s hard to prepare for something when you’re blind and you don’t know what it’s going to be like. I’m sure he’s still going to have a lot more experience with this stuff than we do, but I think we’ll close the gap a lot.“

YOU MENTIONED HOW TEAM PENSKE IS AMONG THE FAVORITES ON SHORT TRACKS. WHY DO YOU FEEL LIKE THAT IS AT PLACES LIKE HERE, PHOENIX, GATEWAY, LAST WEEK? “I can’t tell you why. I have some pretty solid theories on why that is, but I don’t think I need to say exactly what those are. It definitely seems like it fits our package better. Whether it’s aero, engine, or setups, you can put it all together and just have a better package on these short tracks. Also the aero package is different as well. The short track rules package is quite a bit different. Somewhere in all that, we’re putting together much better than we are on mile and a half’s.”

IN REGARDS TO THE MILE AND A HALF TRACKS THIS YEAR, WHAT CAUGHT YOU OFF GUARD ABOUT THE NEW FORD DARK HORSE MUSTANG DESIGN THAT MAYBE YOU DIDN’T ANTICIPATE IN RACING ON THOSE TRACKS? “I think anytime you have a new car there’s going to be a learning curve. It’s easy to get excited because you have this new car and oh man this is going to be great, but you also have to be a little realistic and say, boy we still have to learn what this car wants. We don’t get enough practice these days or tests to go and figure out what it wants. We’re going purely off of wind tunnel numbers on how to set this car up where it wants to be. We don’t have the opportunity to really go out and A-B things over and over again to get the perfect ride height. So, how much do you trust the aero numbers that are coming in? As much as you say the wind tunnel is the wind tunnel, but there’s a lot of different things that happen there that is different than the racetrack. It’s a perfect environment. They don’t have dirty air at the wind tunnel. You can’t get the cars as low as we do here at the racetrack. So things change from the wind tunnel to real life. I think trying to understand what those differences are and how to maximize it just takes time.”

IS IT MORE IMPORTANT SINCE YOU GUYS ARE KIND OF LEADING THE CHARGE FOR FORD TO ENSURE WHOEVER GETS IN THAT 21 CAR IS THE TYPE OF DRIVER THAT CAN GIVE YOU AS MUCH INFORMATION AS POSSIBLE JUST LIKE BLANEY AND CINDRIC SO YOU GUYS HAVE MORE INFORMATION? Absolutely. Teamwork means more now than it ever has, back to the point that we don’t get to go testing very often or practice with any substance of where we can change things. It’s more important than ever that we work together knowing that, knowing whatever everybody’s set ups are, we all set up our cars, the process at least is the same. We go to a racetrack, we have a plan, we can talk about it after our practices here and actually learn from each other. Working together means way more now than it ever did in my past in this sport because of the way the schedules are, how the weekend schedule is, and how similar the cars are, right? Before, sometimes a lot of teams built cars differently from their shop so they weren’t even the same to start as far as bodies being hung and those type of things. Now everything is pretty much the same. You have to be able to trust your teammates feedback when you’re making your adjustments or learning from the post-race week meetings that after you go through everything. It’s just the little things that matter more than ever. The field’s closer than ever and we need that. You you need to understand that if you want to win races you have to have teammates that are going to push you and you have to understand that it is much better to finish second or third to your teammate than beat him and finish 20th. It’s just the facts of where we’re at these days. If we get into one of those grudge matches, none of us will win until it falls apart. It’s different today than it’s ever been for sure, but that’s an important key role for sure.”

CAN EXPLAIN HOW IMPORTANT QUALIFYING IS TODAY WITH THIS FLAT TRACK AND THE RAIN OF COURSE? “Qualifying is important everywhere we go. We talk about how close all the cars are. If you’re only a tenth faster than the car in front of you, you’re probably not going to get around them. So if you can start up in front of those cars, it just changes your whole day. It helps your strategy, helps your pit stall selection. So many great things happen from it, and obviously being towards the front is just safer in general. So yeah, we want to qualify good.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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