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JUL 14, 2017 | Ford Performance Staff

Logano Battles for Playoff Spot

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LOUDON, N.H. - Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion, returns to his home track at New Hampshire in search of a his third career win at the track. Logano has enjoyed success over the years at the Magical Mile, including six top-5 and eight top-10 finishes.

BIG NEWS WEEK FOR YOU WITH THE GENDER REVEAL AND YOUR EVENT LAST NIGHT WITH THE DRIVING HOPE FOUNDATION: “Yeah, we had a busy week. Anytime we come up here to Loudon it is very busy with a lot of different activities going on. One of them was the Joey Logano Foundation Driving Hope Home golf tournament and dinner gala as well. it was a lot of fun and we had a great turnout. Every year has grown and gotten bigger, which is great. We are able to do that in Connecticut straight down the road from where I am from. You see a lot of family and friends that get to come to the dinner as well. A lot of great supporters in the Connecticut area for me. It makes sense for us to have the event there. We raised a lot of money. We had Mike Massaro up there and Kyle Petty. You can imagine if Kyle is up there how that went. It was a lot of fun. He was hilarious. We had a good time with that. We were able to inspire a lot of people to live generously. That is a big part of our mission, to get people thinking in the right direction. We changed a lot of kids lives last night. I am very proud of the effort of the foundation team to put all that together. It is a lot of work, especially doing it far from where I live now. It is very challenging for everyone. To be able to put that together, have everything run smooth, I am very proud of that but more proud of everyone’s mindset when they left that place.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE GENDER REVEAL? HOW THAT CAME ABOUT AND THE HELP FROM FORD ON THAT? “Well, we did have the break it, you but it, plan. Which didn’t affect the way I did anything. It probably should have. I thought about it before I started doing the burnout and then after I was like, ‘No, no, we are going to keep going until something breaks.’ That is usually my mindset when I start doing a burnout. I saw on YouTube that there are different color tires that cars can do burnouts in and I thought it would be cool to do a blue one. We started looking for a set of tires. It was more challenging than I thought it would be. I found the tires but they were in Australia and to get them here was a pain in the butt. To get a wheel was a pain. Then I needed a car to do a big burnout in. I called Ford and said, ‘You got anything?’ And they sent me this brand new - this thing had 14 miles on it when I picked it up. A Mustang GT350 and I was like, ‘Perfect!’ Of course I try to put the wheel on it and it has this big beefed up brakes on it so the wheel doesn’t fit over the caliper so I had to take the brakes off the car which was great because they were just the back and all I needed was the front. You don’t need rear brakes for a burnout. So we took those off, put the special tires on it, roasted the tires until there were no tires left and then put the brakes back on it and sent it back and said thanks. It was a lot of fun. It was something cool. To have our family and our closest friends there was a special moment. It was really cool to hear everyone's reaction. At first, it took a while for the blue to come in. It was just white. I was like, ‘Oh no, we screwed up. There is no blue smoke coming out.’ Then it turned blue and everyone went crazy. It was a lot of fun and a great reason to do a burnout so I was all about that. It was a fun, unique way of doing it as well.”

DID SHE HAVE FUN? “Yeah, she has a blast with that stuff. She is a Ride or Die girl for sure. We have those Polaris RZR’s and before she was pregnant she would jump in and I can’t scare her. She just sits there and rides around all day. I got lucky on that front.”

HOW DO YOU VIEW YOUR SHOT OF MAKING THE PLAYOFFS RIGHT NOW? IT SEEMS LIKE IT COULD BE A BATTLE BETWEEN YOU AND THE 20 OF MATT KENSETH. “It is going to be a battle to the end for sure. I feel like both the race teams are really good. Both the race teams have fought for championships before. It is kind of interesting that we are both in this unique position right now trying to make the playoffs. A lot of times you kind of take that for granted in a way. The last few years you are thinking about winning it. Right now we are thinking about needing to get in first. The mindset has changed a little bit but that is just a situation that we are in after a few bad races. Our team is still capable of winning. We do have to get a little more speed in our cars. I think that is apparent. We have to be able to make our cars faster. I thought last week we executed a great race, got a good finish out of it. We have to score more stage points for sure. Ultimately we need to win a race, or two, or three. As it comes closer you start thinking about that more but I also think about how this team has won three races in a row. You do that and all of a sudden the whole story is changed and we would have the most points starting the playoffs. It can change in the snap of a finger. Any team can take off on a streak like that. It is a matter of getting the speed back. I feel the team is where it needs to be. Pit stops are where they need to be. We are racing well and we just need to get faster. That is the biggest thing right now.”

ARE YOU SURPRISED TO BE IN THIS POSITION? “Very surprised. This isn’t what you expect when you start the season. You go out there expecting to win the championship and the playoffs you just assume you would be there. I still assume we are going to be there. We just have to work hard to get there.”

WHAT IS THE STRATEGY THEN WEEK TO WEEK? “It is all race to race. None of this is new. If you think about it, we do this throughout the playoffs. You have a cut-off every three races and you know the points are close. They will be closer this year than ever with the stages and how that works. I think of Phoenix last year. We went into that race do or die and we won. Talladega was the same thing. Do or die and we won. We are going to get in a situation that is do or die and I have more faith in this team that it is going to happen than not. This team rises to the occasion for sure. When the pressure is on, they show up. It is just a matter of time before that happens.”

OUTSIDERS WOULD SAY THAT YOUR ISSUES POINT BACK TO THE RICHMOND RACE AND THE FAILED INSPECTION. IS IT THAT SIMPLE? HAVE YOU FIGURED OUT WHAT IT IS THAT YOU NEED TO GET BACK TO WHERE YOU NEED TO BE? “Yeah, I think we know what it is and I don’t think it is that. That was so small that it didn’t make our car faster. That is the unfortunate part. it wasn’t something we were trying to do, it was something that happened after the race and it was a 32nd-of-an-inch. It wasn’t making our car faster. It wasn’t something that is taking away from the rest of these races. After Richmond, we had three crashes in a row. There were some different modifications to our bodies that NASCAR started regulating that took some performance away from our cars and we have to try to make that up. That is kind of the biggest thing right now. We are trying to figure out how to make that speed up. It is nothing from Richmond that would affect what happened. It is easy to assume that though, I agree. If I was on the outside looking in, I would say the exact same thing, but it is not. I promise you that. It is not that simple. It never is in our sport. There are a lot of things that add up to it but when you crash three weeks in a row it takes the wind out of your sails. All of a sudden, recently, we have been able to execute pretty well. We finished third at Michigan. We executed that race well. We did crash in Daytona, but half the field did - maybe more. Last week we finished eighth. We are getting back going again. We are climbing up that hill to where we need to be, it just takes a little bit of time to get there.”

THE VHT - IT LOOKS LIKE THE MIDDLE LANE IS SORT OF EMPTY, THEN THE THIRD LANE IS STRIPED AND THE VERY BOTTOM HAS A BIT. IS THAT BASICALLY WHAT YOU GUYS WERE ADVOCATING FOR? “Yeah. The question got put out to a lot of different drivers this week from the council and the council drivers we kind of got on our group chat and were talking back and forth about what we thought was best. We were able to have conversations with NASCAR about it on what we think is best and be able to apply. Hopefully it works good. This is a race track that you can pass on if your car is pretty spectacular and maybe if you have tires on and other cars don’t it might be enough to get through the field. There is some tires fall off that promotes passing. After 10 or 15 laps here everyone is kind of where they are at and passes don’t happen often. The wider we can make the race track, the more air we can get on the nose, the more passes that can be made. When you think about that, how do we make it wider? How do we do that? We have to go to where we don’t run. Right now, the fastest lane on this race track is the second lane. How do we make the track wider? We have to put some up in the third lane and make the bottom better so the guy on the bottom has a shot to keep rotating and get off the corner to actually clear somebody. That was the goal. We will see how that works. It is a learning process on how it works. I think it is great that NASCAR, the tracks, driver, teams, everyone is open to trying it. It is something that could be a larger deal than we all think, for sure. But definitely there is a lot to learn about it. How long it lasts in a race, where is the right place to put it on each track. Each track is different. It isn’t like you will do the same thing next week. That will be trail and error I am sure. I think this is definitely worth trying.”

YOU GOT YOUR FIRST WIN HERE IN A RAINOUT BACK IN 2009. WHAT INFLUENCE DO YOU THINK THE WEATHER WILL HAVE ON THE TRACK THIS WEEKEND? “I am not a weatherman. I didn’t even go to college. I don’t know what to tell you. I have a RCD, that is all I know - that is a Race Car Driver degree by the way. It takes a long time to get that degree. It isn’t an easy degree to get. I don’t know how the weather works and I don’t call a race to it. That is something Todd (Gordon) does. We were talking about that rainout win and I have lost at least four or five of them that way since. This race track has always been a special place for me because it is home. I started my first Cup race here, watched my first one here, won our first one here. It makes it a special place anytime I come here. I am able to see a lot of friends at this race track as well. It is one of the most special places to win. When we won that race a couple of years ago I look at that as the biggest win of my career. Bigger than the Daytona 500 to me. That is what this track means to me. If we can make it happen again - we will try our hardest and hopefully get it.”

ANY THEORY WHY NO ONE TEAM SEEMS TO BE ABLE TO DOMINATE THIS PLACE? “I don’t know. There are certain race tracks we go to that it is the same group of cars that are fast every time. It is kind of like that here but for some reason we have seen this race come down to fuel mileage, a lot of strategy has come into play sometimes with tires that all of a sudden the car is able to get up there that you don’t see all day or a really fast car gets stuck in the middle of the pack. We have seen interesting finishes. Whether that is the length of the race or whatever it is. I don’t know what makes it happen. There is a group of cars that are fast every time you are here, but for some reason there is always a guy that kind of sneaks up there and wins the race. I don’t understand exactly why that is.”

IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A DO-OR-DIE SITUATION AT RICHMOND. DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE A SAFETY NET THERE WITH YOUR SUCCESS THERE EARLIER THIS SEASON? “Yeah, I have won a couple races at Richmond now. We have gone to that race track and tried things before that we were completely sold on and ran awful. When that happens, it makes you kind of rethink everything, which isn’t a bad thing. When that happens it sucks in the moment but you learn a lot from those moments when something goes way wrong. You know to go the other direction and you learn from those days. We have been able to do that and have become pretty successful at Richmond. It has been a great track for us in the past with a lot of top-fives and a couple wins. We still have a lot of races before we get there though. When you put this team in a do-or-die situation, this is the team I want to drive for.”

WHAT WAS YOUR THOUGHT WHEN YOU HEARD NEW HAMPSHIRE WAS LOSING THE SEPTEMBER RACE HERE TO LAS VEGAS STARTING NEXT SEASON? “Yeah, it is a bummer for me. It is my home race track so I want to come up here as much as I can. It is a beautiful area. I am sure everyone is enjoying the cooler weather after the last couple of weeks. I had to turn the heat on in the motorhome last night. I was like, ‘Yes! It is nice to be home.’ Vegas is a great race track though. It is a great destination race track. A lot of people that go there as race fans make a vacation out of it and they go to the city and the whole nine. I understand why it is probably a good move for our sport but selfishly I love coming here and want to keep coming up here as much as we can. It is what it is. Not my decision.”

AS YOU GROW OLDER, DO YOU FIND YOURSELF CLINGING MORE TO BEING THAT HOMETOWN KID FROM CONNECTICUT? DO YOU APPRECIATE IT MORE AS YOU GET OLDER? “I think so. As you get older and become more successful and are around more, more in the limelight, you remember your roots more and more. Maybe some people are the other way but for me I certainly do. I have a great group of friends in Connecticut. Family friends that have been around forever. They are so supportive. All of New England really is like that. I always joke that when I come up here to New Hampshire I feel like I am Dale Jr. because everybody likes me. There aren’t many other places everybody likes me. I want to race here three or four times a year. That part is nice. I really appreciate that. it is kind of cool being one of the only drivers from the New England area. It makes it very unique and special for me to come up to this race track and this area. As I get older I realize that more and more. Not that I am old but as I have been around a little longer and seen this stuff, it is special for me to come up here.”