CHARLOTTE - Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion, is getting accustomed to his new team at Penske Racing and a switch in manufacturers with Ford. Logano talked about both issues as part of a Q&A session on the second day of testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway with the new 2013 NASCAR Fusion.
Q. You’re with a new team this year. How has it gone so far?
A. There are a lot of new things. Obviously, I’m with a new team, but another big thing is I had never driven the 2013 car yet, so I have some things to learn in both directions. I’m driving a Ford again, so I’m excited about that, but it’s been interesting for sure. I think Todd and I are working good together and learning each other. I think he’s trying to figure out when I say it’s tight, how tight is it? He’s trying to get a reference on the magnitude of adjustments we need to make, so I think we’re getting there. We’re making some changes on the car. We still need a little bit more speed in it, which you’ll never have enough speed because you’re always working on that more and more, but I think so far, so good. I think we’ve had some good direction to go back to the shop and work on and try to find some more.
Q. How was your USO tip and what impact did it have on you?
A. It was really cool because we got to go to Kuwait and Germany. Kuwait was definitely an eye-opening experience. It was actually a lot different than I thought. I was kind of expecting to go there and see a bunch of mud hut type houses and things like that, but it was really nice. There is a huge city there, but then you go out in the desert and you meet a lot of the troops that are out on the bases and it’s a different world out there. But all of the Kuwaitis were really nice people and welcomed us, so I thought that was really cool, and obviously to meet the troops and hear some of their stories about what’s going on. We got to go for a ride in a Humvee and a couple other vehicles out there and check out their toys out there, so I thought it was interesting. I learned a lot and then we flew to Germany and I figured out it was a lot colder there because it’s snowing there right now. I froze my butt off, but it was cool because we went to the hospital where a lot of the guys go who are fighting in Afghanistan. We met a lot of the troops and doctors, so it was definitely worth it to me. I thought it was definitely an eye-opening experience. It’s the least I could do for what they do for us. They’re possibly sacrificing their lives. It’s pretty easy for me to just fly over there and say hello, so I should at least do that.
Q. Did you do the horsepower change yesterday and what were the plusses and minuses of that?
A. My initial thought when I jumped in the car with the horsepower was it was like a Nationwide car on steroids, and then when they took the horsepower away I said, ‘Oh, it’s like a Nationwide car.’ It was kind of what I expected. Personally, I’m more for the horsepower. I think most drivers would probably say that. I think more horsepower the better, personally. That’s just human nature. You always want more horsepower in your car driving down the road too, so it’s the same thing as a race car driver and I think it puts on great racing out there. I think if you watch the two practice races or whatever you want to call them out there, I thought the one with the horsepower was a little bit better, personally.
Q. Will we see track records broken this year with this new car?
A. You’ve got a lot more downforce, but these cars have more drag, so you don’t really feel like you’re accelerating that much down the straightaway. That’s why I’m saying when you take the horsepower away you don’t feel like you’re accelerating much at all, but, like I say, you’ve got downforce. You’re going through the corners a lot faster than what we did before because you’re in the gas a lot more. I think at certain tracks you will and certain tracks you won’t. It’s interesting. It is cold out, so that’s a lot of temperature and that’s a lot of speed in the race track right now. And with it being cooler out today, we’re going even faster, so you take all of that with a grain of a salt. I think speeds will be up. I think there is definitely some possibility for track records being broke, but we have to kind of wait and see what the package is gonna be when it’s all said and done here from NASCAR.
Q. What has this transition been like or you and how do you feel you and Brad will complement each other?
A. It’s been pretty cool, for sure. We’ve been working with each other throughout the off-season and kind of getting a gameplan on and what’s gonna happen, but yesterday was the first time we worked together at the race track driving a race car and then sitting down with him and talking about, ‘What do you think about this? What’s your car doing?’ Back and forth, and it’s been really good. The lines of communication have been very open between both teams and I’m really excited about that. I think that’s definitely one of the biggest things I like over there right now. I think that’s definitely cool having Brad working with me and vice versa. I think it’s gonna be good. I’m excited about it. They include me a lot, even with the decisions on personnel, so I like how they include the driver a lot.
Q. Do you expect this car to act much differently in traffic than the old car?
A. It did seem quite a bit different. I think we’ve got to fine-tune it still into being able to race better. You always want to keep the racing as good as possible and that’s the whole reason to get this ’13 car out there is to hopefully improve the racing. I feel like it was good for us to go out there, run in a pack, and see what it’s like. I know some of the things I used to use to pass cars, some of the tools I would use, doesn’t really work anymore, so I to kind of learn and try something else. I think throughout the whole field drivers are gonna have to be doing that – to find new ways to pass guys and change things up because these cars are different. I think there will be some more fine-tuning to try and help us race around each other easier throughout the year.
Q. Can you tell anything different about the car as far as where you are out on the track? Does it react differently going in the corner?
A. I think as far as the line, it’s still a race car. My line is fairly similar. My line has gone more to a Nationwide line, I will say that. Having more downforce it doesn’t feel like you have as much straightaway speed, so you’re able to arc the corners more. The cars handle better, so it goes more to that. The big thing, I think, in traffic that I think changed the cars a lot is you took a lot of that yaw away, so the cars aren’t sideways anymore. It doesn’t seem like there’s as much air going down the left side, so sticking your left-front out and trying to get air on your left-front fender didn’t seem like you got the reward as you used to get. I think that’s probably one of the biggest things that has made these cars drive different in the pack.
Q. Are there ways you think Brad is good at that can help you and vice versa?
A. He won the championship, so he’s pretty good. He seems to be pretty good. It’s really cool to have a teammate that’s a student of the sport, that really studies it and will push me to do things differently. I think the coolest thing that Brad is able to do is he’s able to think outside of the box – like way outside the box. I think that’s interesting to me, to see the way his mind works. I’ve learned a lot the last couple days and the ways he thinks through a race car is a little bit different than normal, and I think that’s cool. I think it’s good to have a little bit of both on a team, so I can learn a lot on the way he leads a team and drives a race car and the way he sets up his car. I seem to be a little bit different, the things he looks for. There are a lot of different things. The way he drives his car is a little bit different than me, too. Taking some of his techniques, I’ve tried them out there and there are pros and cons to everything, but it gives me a few more tools to work with when I’m out there.
Q. Can you give an example of how he thinks outside the box?
A. There are definitely plenty of ways. When I say think outside the box I’m thinking just the way he drives his car. I don’t want to let his tricks out in the open, but just the way he looks into a long run differently than I do or I’ve really seen out there before. So it’s kind of interesting to see that part, for sure.
Q. Do you have any Christmas or New Year’s plans?
A. I’m gonna stay home. I have plenty of stuff to do here. I’m trying to catch up from being on the USO Tour. I don’t really have many other trips scheduled. We’ll have a few appearances coming up. I’m gonna go on a Shell oil rig, so that will be kind of cool to check that out, but, for the most part, I’m staying here. We’ve got a few more photo shoots to do, so we’ll stay busy trying to acclimate myself with Penske Racing and I’ll be over there as much as I can to get the team ready.
Q. When is this oil rig trip?
A. It’s coming up. It’s in January at some point, so it will be kind of cool. They take you out in a helicopter, so it will be cool to check it out. It’s going to be neat.
Q. You’re doing some ice skating as well?
A. My parents are running the outdoor ice rink at the drag strip (in Concord, NC). They teamed up with Charlotte Motor Speedway and they have the rink down at Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, so they’re trying to promote their rink and they’re going to run the one up here, too. My sister is a figure skater, so that’s where the ice skating stuff comes from, so I’m gonna go out there tonight and skate.”
Q. You played some hockey growing you, right?
A. Yeah. That’s why I drive race cars now (laughing). I wasn’t very good. I was laughing and joking with Brad. I said, ‘Both of us aren’t very coordinated. Everyone would laugh if we had a basketball game against each other.’ I think it would be the funniest thing you’ve ever seen. It would be hilarious. I think I might have him beat, but I’m pretty bad.”