Ford Performance Notes and Quotes: Chicago Street Race - Friday, July 5, 2024 - NASCAR Cup Series

Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang Dark Horse for Team Penske, met with members of the media Friday afternoon in downtown Chicago ahead of this weekends Chicago Street Race. Logano will pull double-duty, driving the No. 15 Klutch Vodka Ford Mustang Dark Horse for AM Racing in Saturday’s The Loop 110 before Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 165.

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang Dark Horse:

BECAUSE OF HOW YOUR WIN CAME LAST WEEKEND WITH THE FUEL MILEAGE, HAVE YOU EVER HAD A WIN QUESTIONED OR TALKED ABOUT OR THEORIZED ABOUT SO MUCH ABOUT HOW YOU PULLED THAT OFF? “Not really, actually. That was probably the most. Honestly I would say the same thing if it wasn’t me. We did a really good job of saving fuel under those cautions. It all kind of just played out just right because we didn’t have the best track position in the beginning of the race, so we saved some fuel there. You get a lot of cautions and we were able to save quite a bit under those cautions. I just kind of worked from the engine side, seemed like we made pretty good mileage. Our bodies seemed to be pretty good as far as the drag perspective. It all plays in favor for fuel mileage races. Not many fuel mileage races these days though. That is kind of a rarity for sure. If it does ever go that way, it looks like we are in pretty good shape.”

PENSKE NOW IS THE FIRST TEAM TO HAVE ALL OF ITS DRIVERS LOCKED INTO THE PLAYOFFS. IS THAT A LITTLE BIT OF A SURPRISE? IS IT A BOOST IN CONFIDENCE KNOWING YOU ARE ALL LOCKED IN? “It is definitely something to be proud of, no doubt. It is hard. This NextGen car, I am telling you, it isn’t like it used to be where you can just count on the Penske cars to be in the playoffs. There are really solid teams that are going to miss the playoffs this year. It is just what it is now with this NextGen car. It is hard to get a huge advantage and if you have a few things that just don't go your way time after time you find yourself behind the eight ball. On the outside looking in pretty quickly. It is just different than it used to be where you would look at Hendrick, Gibbs and Penske and on a bad day they would finish 10th to 12th. Now on a bad day you finish 25th, just off of raw speed. It is a different game than it used to be. Because of that there are more players in the game and it makes it harder to get through the rounds and get in the playoffs for sure.”

“I don't know if it changes a whole bunch. The pressure was on to get all our cars in. That is just one piece to the puzzle that is done now. I think it lets you kind of recharge your batteries a little bit. Instead of going into the playoffs with your tongue hanging out, you have a moment to look a little further forward than just the next race. It is the same things as when you move on to the next round in the playoffs by a win a couple races before the other cars do. You have a moment to think about two weeks ahead instead of just this weekend. I think that does give you an advantage. Considering the playoffs are still pretty far out it doesn't do a whole bunch for that yet. But I think directionally it is good, yeah.”

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT DETERMINING WHO WILL BE YOUR SECOND AND THIRD SPOTTER ON A TRACK LIKE THIS? “I let Coleman handle it. He has the connections and we have used the same people for years now. I think ever since Coleman started spotting me. The last couple of years have been the same, maybe even longer than that. I let Coleman handle that and decide where the most important spots are. We talk about it, don't get me wrong, I don't just say, ‘Hey, handle this.’ We talk about it and figure out where the best places are that they can see and all that.”

IS THERE A PREFERENCE ON WHERE YOU WANT COLEMAN AS THE MAIN SPOTTER? DOES EVERY DRIVER HAVE A DIFFERENT PREFERENCE ON WHERE THEY WANT THEIR MAIN SPOTTER? 

“We try at Penske to keep everything with a system, right? Where everything's consistent throughout all the teams. That being said, sometimes there's things a little bit different. The spotter choice a lot is because of the driver and what he feels is best, working with the spotter. But you're having your main spotter on the main spotter stand is probably best. And here, it seems like that's the best view anyways. So that's what he'll be.”

JUST WALKING THROUGH THE GARAGE, SEEING THIS TRACK COME TO LIFE FOR THE SECOND YEAR. WHAT'S BEEN YOUR TAKEAWAY YEAR TWO JUST IN THE FEW HOURS THAT WE'VE SEEN THIS PLACE REALLY START TO BE BUILT UP AGAIN? “Yeah it's nice to at least know where you're going a little bit. I've been out there walking around getting all my stuff gathered up. At least you know like okay I'm gonna change this driver lounge thing. I know where the hauler's at. Like last year you're out there like, where am I? You literally pull up your GPS on your phone to try to figure out where you're at. It's nice to have a lay of the land. I'm sure everyone could probably agree with that sitting in here too. That part's great, but I think also, you talk to some of the fans, you're just walking over here from the hotel and everyone seems to be very excited and the weather's great, so the energy is much better. I feel like just last year everyone was so excited about it, like they are this year, but it just was kind of, yeah, but it's going to rain. You know, everyone just kept talking about that, which this year everyone's talking about how great the weather is. So, I think that really is going to give us a fair shake. I could see everything play out the way it's supposed to on time with the schedule and the concerts and all that. Like everything can go the way it's supposed to and be fun to see.”

YOU'RE ALSO IN THE XFINITY CAR THIS WEEKEND AS WELL. WHAT KIND OF AN ADVANTAGE CAN THAT BE IN TERMS OF JUST GETTING REPS IN LAPS AROUND THE RACETRACK DESPITE HOW DIFFERENT THE CARS ARE? “There's no doubt that running on a street course more is gonna be better. I think the best example of that is Shane, right? When you look at the experience he had on street courses it showed up immediately in a car he never drove before here. So it tells me it doesn't matter what kind of car you're driving, he's able to gain that experience. For me when this opportunity showed up I was like well yeah I'll I'll drive it. I'll do it. Because it's the experience you get and knowing the little nuances of the track. It's so different than any other road course you go to and it's just a matter of just finding those little details and getting comfortable. Knowing where the passing zones are. Knowing how close you can get to the walls, and being able to maximize things. It just takes some time and I think more laps will help.”

ASSUMING THIS RACE DOESN'T STAY IN THIS CITY FOREVER, BUT MAYBE THERE'S ANOTHER STREET RACE IN THE FUTURE, 10 YEARS FROM NOW, WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS THAT, AS DRIVERS YOU GUYS LIKE, THAT SHOULD BE CONTINUED TO BE PURSUED GOING FORWARD?  “The fact that we're bringing the race to the fans, or even bringing the race to not fans, is so important. This is about growth, right? If you're a diehard NASCAR fan, you're going to go to a race, right? You're going to travel. You're going to do the whole experience. You're going to go wherever your favorite track may be that you want to see the cars at and do the whole night. Whereas here, if you're not a NASCAR fan, well, guess what? We're in your face. You're here. Like, you're going to like it. We're going to make you like it, at least. Or at least you're going to have to see it. You can't get away from it. Whether it's the advertising through the city that you see just driving around here, which is great. Hearing the race cars. You're going to hear the race cars all through the city. These cars aren't quiet by any means. So you're going to hear and go, what's going on? Curiosity is going to get the best of everybody. They're going to come over here and want to see what's going on. Even last year, you think about the people that were trying to peek through the fence. They didn't have a ticket, but they're trying to look through the fence to see the race cars. They're just curious, like, what's going on here? What's bad about that? Nothing. That's all good things. So I love the idea of doing this. Yes, is the driver competing? Is it challenging? Absolutely. Logistically, is it challenging for the teams? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Yes. It's totally worth doing. It seems like there's so many positives that comes out of our sport long-term.”

ARE YOU READY FOR THE RACE? HAVE YOU DONE LIKE 10,000 LAPS IN THE SIM? WHAT IS YOUR WARMUP FOR THIS?  “Yeah, I've run some laps in the sim with both cars. Am I ready? I don't know. I'm as ready as I know how to be. I'm more ready than I was last year, I can say that much. But the whole field is. At least you have an idea of what you're up against and what it's going to be like. The first few laps in practice last year was kind of sketchy, right? In a sim I break here, but how good is a sim gonna be? I'm on the streets of Chicago, I don't know. You seem to figure it out fairly quickly. Now, at least like passing zones, and you study your competitors, and kind of see where they were strong, where you were weak. You have an idea of things you want to make better to your car. There is actually stuff to talk about where last year is just, I don't know, put on what you think is best and we'll tune on it from there and hope it's pretty close. Now it seems like we have a little better direction.”

ARE YOU GOING TO PARTICIPATE IN THE TRACK WALK? "Yeah, I'll go out there tomorrow morning. I think it does a little bit. It just get your wheels spinning a little bit thinking about you know where you want to hit the brakes, kind of the markers seeing it like okay this is my point here. I can kind of see that you know where you think there's going to be some issues from bumps or little things like that which you're gonna want to work on. Those things help.” 

PAUL WOLF SAID ON THE CHANNEL THIS WEEK THAT HE BASICALLY SAID TO YOU, WE'VE GOT TO WIN TO GET INTO THE PLAYOFFS, AND THAT WAS WITH 18 RACES IN THE BOOKS. HAD THAT STUCK IN YOUR HEAD?  “Yeah, I don't know if we were completely 100% on the same page with each other on having to win to get in. Yes, is it way better to win to get in? Yeah, duh, right? We can agree on that, but we weren't in a must-win, but we were definitely in a must do good scenario. We had to make up a lot of points. We were in the playoffs going into last weekend in Nashville. But all it would have taken is Zane to win, who finished second, and all of a sudden we're 40 something points out, probably. I think it's something like that. So you think about how quickly it can change. And then we would be saying, oh, we have to win. At the moment, we weren't must win, but we couldn't have that happen. When you think about how weird Nashville was with all the overtimes, but then you look at the schedule coming up. You’ve got Daytona, you've got here, and Pocono can turn into sometimes an interesting scenario as well from a mileage standpoint. There's a lot of opportunities for somebody to win that you wouldn't expect and that would change the game a lot.”

IF YOU WEREN'T WEARING THAT SHIRT AND THE HAT, DO YOU THINK YOU COULD KIND OF WALK DOWN THE STREET INCOGNITO AND YOU KNOW JUST KIND OF TAKE IN EVERYTHING THAT THE CITY HAS TO OFFER?  “I mean I walked over here. I am a bit of a walking billboard but I can kind of see some of it. I can't honestly tell you that I'm going to have enough time to like explore the city. It's pretty much racetrack to hotel maybe grab a dinner that'll be it for me.”

ON THE STREET AND ROAD COURSES, WOULD YOU AGREE THAT AT TIMES THEY CAN KIND OF BECOME THE WILD WEST THAT PEOPLE TEND TO RACE A LITTLE BIT MORE AGGRESSIVELY, THEY TEND TO JUST PUT IT WHERE THEY CAN? DO YOU SEE THAT MORE AND AS A STREET COURSE THAT'S SOMETHING MAYBE THAT YOU WOULD SEE EVEN MORE THAN ON A ROAD COURSE THAT YOU'RE DOING? WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?  “I think it's because of the heavy braking zones is why you think everybody's racing more aggressively. We're racing just as aggressive last weekend in Nashville. Those restarts are crazy. Every restart we have these days, everybody is so over the top on everything we do and you have to. If you're not the one making the moves, you're getting eaten up. So you have to be willing to just go. It's just more noticeable here because when you make a mistake at Nashville last weekend, I restart, you may wiggle up, and you go up the racetrack, maybe you don't hit anybody, but you lose a few spots. Okay, no harm no foul. Well here, you're getting a pretty decent size breaking zone. You start getting the wiggles there, what are you gonna do? There's no runoff, you're gonna hit the wall, you're gonna run into somebody, and how do you pass somebody when you're all about the same speed? We talk about this every week, how do you pass them if you're running the same speed? Well, you gotta be willing to get outside of your comfort zone a little bit. Where you feel like you're comfortable making speed, but to pass them, you have to get go further and you got to be offline. Maybe there's a bump down there you haven't seen yet because it's offline and you start going. You're going to hit something. There's just no room to not hit something. I think that just is more pronounced when you come to a road course, but even more so in Chicago with the walls because there's just no runoff anywhere you go you're going to hit something. I don't think the aggression level is higher it just looks like it it is.” 

DO YOU THINK THERE IS AN ART TO MAYBE A RESERVED AGGRESSIVENESS? MAYBE NOT PUSHING IT AS HARD, NOT LEANING ON EACH OTHER AS MUCH, TO BE A CONTENDER FOR THE WIN THIS WEEKEND? He's (SVG) just smooth. What I think makes Shane so good at these tracks is his ability to hit the apexes so tight without giving up entry speed is what makes him fast. To me, that's pretty clear. He gets so comfortable in those braking zones to be able to put place his car where he needs to he just is pretty smooth. That move he made against Haley to win the Cup race -- changing directions in that area it didn't even come to my mind like you can't do that like and he just got so much more comfort and knowing how his car needed to feel to go over those bumps in that braking zone to at least get his car driving to what in his mind is right. But I think his ability to brake smooth, change direction in the braking areas, he did that multiple times to a lot of different cars. We all should be closer this year. I would freaking hope so. This is a lot of work for nothing, so I'd like to think we're gonna be better.”

HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE KNOWLEDGE YOU GUYS HAVE OF THIS COURSE AT THIS POINT, GIVEN THAT IT CERTAINLY LOOKS LIKE IT'S GONNA BE A DRY WEEKEND HERE, SO LESS OF A WETNESS FACTOR, AND THEN OBVIOUSLY A YEAR OF WEAR AND TEAR IN CHICAGO IN THE WINTER AND EVERYTHING THAT GOES ALONG WITH WINTER. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ABOUT WHAT YOU GUYS KNOW ABOUT THIS COURSE AFTER RUNNING IT A YEAR?  “We know it's bumpy. It's bumpier than we thought it was last year. They did repave a couple sections. So, there's that piece that's gonna be different. It'll be interesting to see. Even the things that you think you know could be different when you get out there as far as like wall placement, right? How do you know they set the the apex of the corner at the same angle of the wall and all that? It could be different when you get there. These roads are used every day. Race track roads are not used very often. You have a lot of heavy trucks and things and I'm sure it doesn't get smoother over time. I'm sure to your point of winter and the pounding of what is the streets of Chicago is probably going to be bumpier than last year. But we'll have to see. Like I said, even you think of turn 9, 10, 11 around what I always call the half moon area there. All those walls, the way they place them would change a lot of how we get through there. So we'll have to just wait and see.”

YOU'VE BUILT UP A REPUTATION OF RUNNING WELL EACH TIME AT A NEW TRACK NOTABLY WINNING THE INAUGURAL BRISTOL DIRT AND GATEWAY RACES AND THEN FINISHING IN THE TOP 10 HERE LAST YEAR. WHAT GOES ON IN THE LEAD UP BACK AT THE SHOP THAT ALLOWS YOU TO BE SO STRONG OUT OF THE GATE AT THESE PLACES COMPARED TO YOUR COMPETITORS?  “I get that question a lot. I never have a good answer for you. We try to think of it from an old school approach of just going off of history of tracks that we think may be similar and things I think we'll need. I think Paul and I both do a good job at adapting quickly. It seems like the first couple laps on the racetrack, most of the time I can adapt really quick to at least get us in the ballpark. And then you kind of fine tune, find a little bit here and there. I think the first chunk of speed, usually we can figure it out fairly quickly.”

DO YOU THINK YOU CAN GO OUT AND BE A LEGITIMATE CONTENDER ONCE THE POSTSEASON ROLLS AROUND? “Absolutely. We always think we can win the championship. There's a lot of stepping stones and things you had to do to get there but you bring it up plenty of times. If you think of 2018 and I I've said it before, I remember having the conversation with my wife just saying gosh I hope we get through the first round of these playoffs because I felt that is where we were from a speed perspective and all of a sudden it got better. And we go on and win the whole thing and she reminds me all the time you just remember what you said in 18. I'm like okay honey I got you. But she's right. You just got to stay around, right? You got to be in it to win it. It's so real with our playoffs. Are we seeded the best going into the playoffs right now? No. We don't have enough playoff points. The cards are stacked a little bit against us from that perspective. But I've also seen plenty of times where if you can just be solid, get through the rounds, win the races that matter. If you're around long enough for the speed knob to get turned up. It happened to the 12 last year. He got through the rounds just as he needed to and by the time it was game time, boom, the speed showed up and he won the championship. We did that in 18, we did it in 22, hopefully we do it again this year.”

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John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2024, Issue 7, Posted 5:53 PM, 07.05.2024