NASCAR Media Conference
July 5, 2011
MELANIE HANNS: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the NASCAR Cam video teleconference in advance of this weekend's races at Kentucky Speedway. Joining us now is Joey Logano, a three-time consecutive winner at Kentucky in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, all from the pole I might add. He's also coming off a really strong finish this weekend in Daytona where he won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Friday and finished third in Saturday's Coke Zero 400.
Joey, you've dominated this track in the NASCAR Nationwide Series but now you're heading back there as a Sprint Cup Series driver in that series debut. We've got a fan question from Twitter that relates to this. It's from @JoeyLoganoFan, and she asks, "How much of an advantage do you think NASCAR Nationwide Series guys have over the Cup guys at Kentucky this weekend?"
JOEY LOGANO: Well, it's hard to say. You know, the Nationwide cars that we've ran at Kentucky the last few years are going to be different now, so it's definitely a lot different car, Sprint Cup car, Nationwide cars, even though they're closer now. So it's going to be hard to say. We're going to have that test day up there Thursday, so all these guys are going to get laps on the racetrack, and you've got to remember, I'd be willing to say at least 95 percent of them have been to Kentucky before when we were able to test there. And a lot of guys do run the Nationwide race.
I'd say I've got a little bit of an advantage, but I think a lot of it is going to come down to getting your car good. I think my big advantage that I have is I just know what I need to make the car go faster. I know what I need when the race starts and all that. I think that's an advantage that I might have there.
But you know, it's going to be a matter of the same old thing as every other racetrack we go to; get the car the best you can and try and start the race and know what direction the track is going to go. It's different every time no matter what. It always seems like we go to the track with a different tire, so your old race notes sometimes don't compare to what's going to be when we get there. With all that, it's always different.
Q. Like Melanie said, you're coming off an incredible weekend. You're heading to a track that you do really well at in the Nationwide Series. How much of that momentum is going to be able to be taken advantage of this weekend?
JOEY LOGANO: Oh, for sure. Momentum is a really big deal in our sport, and I think in any sport is really is. But obviously coming off Sonoma with a pole there in the Home Depot car, winning a West race out there, coming in sixth in the Cup race, going in this weekend and winning the Nationwide race in the Sport Clips Toyota and having a third place run, all that just builds momentum, and that's something we needed as a team a lot lately.
We've been in a hole, and I think we're doing a really good job digging ourselves out of it right now. It seems like once we get up on top of it we'll be fine. I feel like we're on our way out right now. We went through a segment like this last year; we were struggling and we came up out of it, and we finished off the year really strong with a lot of top 10 and top 5 finishes. Hopefully we're on the same road right now, digging out of there, and we can get back on that run again.
Q. It seemed to have started back at Sonoma when you got that pole. How much of that was maybe the new nose of this car for this year, and what's different from the start of the season to the last month let's say?
JOEY LOGANO: I mean, there's not really much different from where the start of the season was until where it is now. We started the season with the new nose, and I don't think that was really what changed a lot.
I think the big thing is the tire this year is a lot different than what we were ending with at the end of last year, and I think it's taken us a long time to figure out what we need with the tire to make our cars go fast and a matter of myself getting used to it and figuring out what I need to deal with and what I need to focus on to make the car go faster. I think all that is kind of what really threw us all for a loop. You see a lot of guys this year that were real strong last year that aren't as strong now but are starting to figure it out as the season keeps going.
I think it's just some things that are different and it plays into certain drivers' hands better than others.
Q. Can you just talk about your previous wins there at Kentucky and what stood out, what was significant about them for you?
JOEY LOGANO: I think each win for me is definitely real special for sure. My first one was probably the most special there at Kentucky being my first win, my third start. It was really, really big. I felt like that was one of those key moments in my career that was able to get me into my Sprint Cup ride that I have now. You see some guys that are able to win a race pretty quick like that, they get people thinking about you and moving you up pretty quick.
Winning there was huge, and I think the last one was really cool, too, just because it was a record. To get three poles and three wins in a row at one racetrack wasn't done before at the time, so it was pretty neat to be able to do that. It's just a really fun racetrack. I like it a lot. I was able to test there a lot when we were able to, and I think all that has really helped me a lot for when I get there to race.
Q. In the Nationwide Series you've had some success obviously at Kansas, too, and I heard last week some drivers kind of comparing Kentucky to Kansas. Is that valid, and do you think there's a correlation there to your success at Kansas and Kentucky?
JOEY LOGANO: Oh, for sure, definitely. I feel like Kentucky is Kansas and Chicago; that equals Kentucky. I think that the really, really big difference is not really much. The bankings from Kansas to Kentucky are really close, kind of the way you run through the turn is pretty close to the same, and then Chicago, I feel like that front straightaway and the way you enter into 1 at Kentucky and Chicago are real similar. I think those are the two things that make all those tracks close together and similar, but it's still got its own special things about it that makes it different.
Kentucky has definitely got some bumps in it now that we'll have to work with a little bit, and the part I'm real excited about seeing is where these Cup cars are going to be on the racetrack compared to where we've run the last few years with the Nationwide car. I think we're going to be moving around the track a lot more, which will definitely put on a better race.
Q. You do a lot of TV interviews. What's your take on the recent CNN's Fredricka Whitfield's in-depth interview with you and Jason Leffler at the NASCAR Hall of Fame?
JOEY LOGANO: It's cool. Actually I think -- I didn't get to see the special yet on TV, but me and Fredricka did an interview way back in the day when I was -- I think I was nine, on NBC Nightly News about me racing Bandoleros. When I saw her again, I was like, wow, check that out. It was definitely really neat to work with something like that, and it's big for our sport to get on CNN and stuff like that. It's definitely big to get our sport out in different demographics like that.
Q. They aired the program for two Sundays in a row, and it was excellent coverage. Also, you did a lot of winning on your way up to Cup. Can you talk a little bit about the difficulty of winning now at the Cup level?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, it doesn't get any easier when you start racing against the best of the best, for sure. These guys, I always say all 43 drivers in the Sprint Cup Series were really, really good in whatever they did growing up. They were the best of the best in whatever series they were in. Now we're all racing against each other, you know, so it doesn't get any better than that. So it's the best race car drivers in the United States for sure that are all running against each other, and it's tough for sure.
But when you win against these guys, it means that much more.
Q. What's the deal with you young guys? You've got Trevor winning the 500, you've got David winning here Saturday, you won a race here Friday. Are you guys staging the revolution here?
JOEY LOGANO: I think, you know, I mean, the younger generation has been moving into NASCAR for a while now. Guys are starting younger and younger. Everyone is getting to NASCAR levels, the Shark, Nationwide, Cup a lot earlier, which is making us all better race car drivers. The better race car drivers you can race against is going to make you a better race car driver quicker for sure.
You see obviously David -- we've been doing it for a long time now. I'm in my third year, but David has been doing it for a couple years longer than me. So we've all been racing for a long time when we got here. It's not like we just jumped inside a race car, oh, this is how we do it. We've been able to go through a lot.
I will say I've learned more in the last two, three years in my racing career than I have my whole life racing, but that's because I'm racing against the best of the best out there. We'll figure it out eventually is what it is.
Q. There's an urban legend that says back when you guys were doing the Legends cars that you all had a bet who could win the first Cup race or something like that. Is there any truth to that?
JOEY LOGANO: I don't think we had one of those. I didn't at least. No, we were focused on beating each other that day. That's all it was. It was me, David and Reed all the time. We raced against each other a lot. We didn't really talk about the future that much. We just talked about beating each other that day. We were competitive.
We're still very competitive with each other. But the cool thing is that it's so hard to make it in this sport, for all three of us to be out there racing and still racing against each other, that's unreal. I mean, it's really awesome. It says something about Legends cars and what we've raced in as we've moved up.
Q. You were talking about the Sprint Cup guys experimenting a lot with different lines. Are they going to work on lines that avoid the bumps or are they going to work on making the bumps to their advantage?
JOEY LOGANO: I think you're going to want to be on both sides of that. I think you're going to want to definitely get your car to be good over the bumps because with the double-file restarts you're not going to have an option. If you're starting on the bottom, you're going to run through the bumps. Trying to get your car as good as you can over the bumps with trying to keep as much grip as you can in the car -- every time you work on the bumps you take some grip away from the car. So it's going to be trying to find a happy medium in there somewhere to find the best you can possibly get.
I think qualifying will be cool to see where guys run, if it's on the top or if it's on the bottom. I'd say top, two lanes up. But I'm real interested in seeing the race, how much higher it goes.
Every Nationwide race that we've run there has gotten to about the second lane, second and a half lane. I think these Cup cars are going to move up quite a bit further than that once it rubbers up. Even in practice you might see it move up a little bit. You see that a lot in practice lately with this tire that rubbers up real quickly. It seems like cars move around a lot quicker in practice.
We'll be on our toes as a driver to make sure we move around and see what our car is going to do in different lines and try to get our car to be the best it can be in each lane.
Q. Do you think will most guys have good feel for it by the end of Thursday, or do you think they're going to need 50, 100 laps of racing on Saturday to really have a feel?
JOEY LOGANO: These guys are good. Like I said earlier, they're going to know what they need and they're going to know how to make speed pretty damn quick out there. It's not going to take them long. A lot of guys have raced here before or at least tested here quite a few times, so they're going to figure it out pretty quick. And with that test day we're going to have plenty of practice, and we'll have the test day and we have our regular practice. We're going to have plenty of laps out there before the race starts.
Q. You moved into 20th in the points this weekend, and that puts you essentially one win away from a potential wildcard berth in the Chase. Being that you're 20th in points and not say like 15th, do you still have to run pretty conservatively the way you've been running, just solid finishes, as opposed to going out there and trying to get wins and trying to win your way into the Chase?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, for sure. Being 20th in the points, it's good. It's nowhere even close to where we expected to be or where we wanted to be at this point in the season. We're excited that we're back into the top 20 in points. We need to be a lot better than that.
Like I was saying earlier when we first started here about how we need to get this momentum and keep it going like we did at the end of last year, now is the time to keep it going and move ourselves up there in points. Once you start consistently running good again, those wins come. You've just got to be patient with it and not do nothing stupid in the meantime. We've definitely got to keep ourselves in the top 20, and as long as we keep doing that, we'll be fine.
Q. As a follow-up to the young drivers situation here, some of the younger drivers are having a hard time getting Cup rides, often because of the economic factors out there. Has the challenge, has the situation changed do you think a lot since you moved up?
JOEY LOGANO: Yes, yes, for sure. A lot of my friends are my age or so trying to get a ride. I see how hard it is. I think I made it right at the right time. Joe Gibbs Racing signed me at the right time; they got behind me, stuck behind me and was able to move me up really quick and get some sponsors behind me. That's really helped a lot.
These days it seems like there's no teams that have the money to invest in a younger driver to bring him up. It seems like they're -- and you can't blame them; it's so hard these days and it's so expensive in the sport. It seems like the guy that brings the money to the race team is going to be the guy driving the race car.
You know, I can't sell all my Nationwide races, Kyle Busch can't sell all his Nationwide races. That's how hard it is out there right now. Obviously we have a lot of people here at Joe Gibbs Racing trying to sell and trying to work and we have a lot of great sponsors right now, it's just harder and harder. If we can't do it, how is someone that's just started and no one really knows who he is and hasn't won races before and all that, how is he supposed to get sponsors? I see all my friends all the time and they ask me what I think they should do, and I don't know the answer to it. It's really, really hard unless you've got some kind of money behind you to get in here.
Eventually you've got to be able to drive. Money is only going to take you so far. You've got to be able to stand up and win races and do it yourself to make a living at it doing this, but definitely I think it's harder now than it's ever been for sure to get into this sport.
MELANIE HANNS: Thank you, Joey, for taking the time to do this and to answer some questions from our media.
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