Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion, visited the infield media center at Talladega Superspeedway this morning and discussed a number of issues, including the penalty NASCAR assessed on Thursday that resulted in his win at Richmond being ruled encumbered.
JOEY LOGANO - #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion - HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RACING THIS WEEKEND AT TALLADEGA? "We're ready to get on the race track. Any week we're ready to get on the race track no matter what, but Talladega has been a good race track for us in the past. It's either really good or really bad in all honesty. We've either had a car that's capable of winning or we crash. That's kind of how it seems it is for this team, but I'm alright with that. I'm okay with the way these races play out, so I'm looking forward to getting out there and knocking a little bit of the rust off. Anytime you come to these superspeedways you haven't done it in a little bit it takes a lap or two to kind of get used to the lingo again with your spotter and what's going on, and getting used to that four-wide draft that you see here at Talladega. That makes it a lot of fun for us, so I'm ready to get out there and have some fun today."
HOW DOES THE RICHMOND WIN FEEL NOW THAT IT'S BEEN RULED ENCUMBERED? DO YOU VIEW IT LIKE ANY OTHER WIN YOU'VE HAD? "I personally do, yes, because I think what happened was something that's very, very small. 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 and we'll get through this little tough time without our crew chief, but we have a lot of depth at Team Penske that we can look back at that and we'll have Greg (Erwin) up on the box on Sunday. We'll have Miles (Stanley) 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."
DO YOU FEEL THE PENALTY WAS TOO SEVERE AND WHERE DO YOU GO FROM HERE? SOME MIGHT SAY NOT TO PUSH IT AS HARD. SOME MIGHT SAY IT'S QUALITY CONTROL. SOME MIGHT SAY YOU JUST NEED TO SWERVE BETTER AFTER A RACE. "It has nothing to do with swerving with what happened. It's just a matter of, like I said, I drive the car. 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."
THE 2 AND 22 WERE BOTH TAKEN BACK. WHY WOULD ONE PASS AND THE OTHER WOULDN'T? "That's probably a better question for Travis (Geisler) or someone that's a little bit more into the technical side of it. As a race car driver, yes, am I in tune to of what's going on? To a certain point - not completely as much as the guys that are actually building the cars - so I don't want to give you the wrong answer, so it's probably a better question for Travis or one of the Team Penske executives."
BRAD APPARENTLY DID SWERVE. "It has nothing to do with swerving."
JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED - WHAT'S THE BIGGEST PENALTY MOVING FORWARD? LOSING TODD? LOSING THE POINTS FROM THE WIN? "All of the above. It's tough. Losing Todd is a very big piece of our race team and that's something that is very challenging. Losing the playoff points is something that's very big as well, and then you think about the 25 regular-season points, that's basically playoff points if you want to look at it that way. It's a way to set us up at the end of this first 26 races of the way the playoff points are handed out. That's a pretty big hit as well, so we're taking the hit for sure and it's not gonna be easy to overcome it, but, like I said, anytime something like that happens and you get a lot of the knock back from media or fans or whatever you're gonna hear, it drives you to win a little bit more. We're looking at the silver lining as something that's making us drive to win more and make us a little bit more determined to make it happen, so I think we can make up those points with the right attitude."
FAIRLY OR NOT THIS IS THE SECOND PENSKE PENALTY THIS YEAR. IS IT FAIR TO SAY YOU GUYS HAVE GOTTEN A REPUTATION OF PUSHING THINGS A LITTLE BIT. IS THAT FAIR? DO YOU LIKE HAVING THE BLACK HAT? "Honestly, I don't believe that we wear a black hat or anything like that. I think we're the most professional organization out here. I think 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."
YOU GUYS HAVE OWNED THIS AND SOME HAVE SAID IT SHOWS INTEGRITY FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION. CAN YOU ADDRESS THAT? "Like I said, I feel like Roger Penske is a stand-up person and he takes things like a man. He understands the situation. He's a racer. He races to win, but he has a lot of integrity and he's a very professional person and I feel like our company is the most professional company in this sport. I feel like every one of you guys would probably agree with that, and I know internally, seeing how things are done, I believe that for sure. Anytime there's controversy, I'm a big believer in hitting it head-on and talking about it because the more you kind of hide from something, for one, you look guilty, and, two, people are gonna speculate a lot of different things on what it was and how bad it's gonna be. And that's not just with something with this today, it could be anything. In life, right. If you have an issue with your wife or your friends, you're best off talking about it as soon as you can and not letting it sit. I think we've taken that approach with any situation that comes up is that, 'Hey, let's hit this head-on. Let's talk about it. Let's get it out with what actually happened and what's the story and let's move forward. Let's get past it and move on and focus back in on winning races and not worried about what stories are written about us or blah, blah, blah.'"
PENALTY ASIDE, HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE FIRST QUARTER OF THE SEASON? "For us as the 22 team, we were able to kick off the season great with the win at The Clash. That was nice, and since then we've had decent speed in our cars. At the beginning part of the year we didn't execute perfectly during the race, so we didn't get many stage points, but we were able to recover and get a lot of top 5s and top 10s so far this year. Our average finish is great. I think last week to get through and win the race is a nice thing. Obviously, this is a little bit of a setback, so I think in general we're doing a good job. I think we've cleaned up the mistakes that we had earlier in the year to where now we're running as well as we should during the event, which is gonna help us score stage points because we all know how big that is right now and it will be forever. I think the fact that we cleaned up our races a little bit, that's a big deal, and our speed is still really well. We have good speed in our cars, so those wins will start clicking off is good. I feel happy with where we're at. I think we have an average finish of around sixth and seventh with the blown right-front at Phoenix and a thirtysomething finish there, so I'm proud of the way we've handled the situations this year and the finishes we've been getting and the way we've been recovering I think that's an A-plus, and I think we've cleaned up to where we don't have to recover as much, hopefully, here in the future."
JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED -- THE REAR SUSPENSION SEEMS TO BE A NASCAR FOCUS THIS YEAR, SO ARE YOU NERVOUS AFTER A RACE AND WAITING TO HEAR HOW POST-RACE INSPECTION GOES AT THE R&D CENTER? "No, not at all. If I'm nervous or worried about that, I'm probably not focused in on my job and I'm probably not gonna be the best race car driver I can possibly be, so, no."
YOU SAID THE PENALTY WASN'T A BIG DEAL, BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY DO YOU AGREE WITH IT? "The penalty is the penalty. I don' t know if the headline you guys wrote yesterday was fair - to be calling someone an SOB, I think that's a little bit ridiculous in all honesty. The penalty is the penalty and we'll get through it like we know how to, like I said."
--- Ford Performance ---