Joey Logano Advances to Contender Round of Chase to NASCAR’s 2014 Sprint Cup Series Championship

Joey Logano celebrates his victory in the Sylvania 300
Joey Logano celebrates his victory in the Sylvania 300

Ford Fusion and Team Penski sit in the drivers’ seat after third straight win

Joey Logano advances to the Contender round of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship
Joey Logano advances to the Contender round of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship

Joey Logano combined a quick pit stop to grab four new tires on Sunday during the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, with a great restart to take the lead with just two laps to go and then won the race down the stretch to the finish line. This victory punches his ticket to the Contender round of the 2014 Chase to NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series Championship.

Sports History Today was on hand after the Slyvania 300 to hear what Joey Logano had to say about his victory and the upcoming race at Dover International Speedway.

Joey Logano enjoying his moment of glory
Joey Logano enjoying his moment of glory

Did you know that four tires would be the call of the day?

“No, I thought we gave it away at that point, but four tires were good and we had some good restarts and were able to get ourselves back up there.  We worked hard.  This is my home race track, the coolest place to win for me.  I could never pick a better race track to win.  I watched my first Cup race here when I was five and I won that other Cup race here, but I just felt like I had to win one the right way here, and this means so much.  I’ve got to thank all the boys at Team Penske.  We’re doing what we’ve got to do to win this thing right now – both teams are – and I’m proud of that.  This is my home track so it means so much to me.”

What went through your mind when the caution came out with four to go?

“I had a lot of things I can’t say right now that came to my mind, but we were able to have some good restarts.  The guys did a good job setting this thing up and gave me something to win with today. I went to sleep last night hoping for a top five.  That would be good for me at this track because it’s not one of my key places, and that’s why it means so much to win here.”

How does it sound to be going to the next round?

“It feels good to go into the next one.  We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing though.  We’ve got to keep our eye on the prize and think about the big trophy at the end.”

How did you feel heading into the race?

“A lot went into this one, that’s for sure.  I’ll just take you back to when we unloaded we were OK and then yesterday in practice we were so-so.  I didn’t feel like we were great and towards the end of practice we made a couple changes and found some speed, started seventh today and was able to work our way up a little bit in the beginning of the race.  I felt like, ‘OK, ‘we’ve got something to contend for a victory with,’ if everything worked out right and we ran around top-three most of the day.  We came in and put two tires on and a couple cars stayed out, and at that point I had a bad restart third and another bad restarted when I was fifth and that put us sixth or so when the caution came out.  Todd put four tires on it and at that point I thought he was crazy because we came out 16th, and I was like, ‘Well, let’s just try to salvage something out of this and try to get a top-10 or top-5,’ because our goal coming into the race was to get to the next round.  We’ve got to get to the next round to win the championship.  That’s our ultimate goal is to win the championship and we had to get through this day the best we could and had some really good restarts.  Before I knew it I was sitting third and was like, ‘Huh, I’ve got a shot at winning this thing.’  I’ve got 30 lap newer tires than anybody and we were able to capitalize with that, and then of course it was caution after caution after caution and that was making me nervous for sure.  I don’t know if Todd and Walt were, but I know I was and we were able to capitalize and have some good restarts and be here in Victory Lane.  Too me, this is almost like Daytona.  It’s such a special place for me.  I watched my first Cup race here when I was five and started my first one and won my first one.  After the week I had in Connecticut doing some really cool fundraisers, to top it off with a victory is really neat.”

Does this increase your confidence heading to the next round?

“I would think so.  It definitely didn’t go the other way.  You get a win like that.  This is personally I consider my worst race track.  That’s terrible to say because it’s my home race track, but I’ve always struggled when I come here.  To be able to win at your worst race track that makes you feel like you can win anywhere.  It’s just special to be able to do that and the confidence is high with the 22 team right now and all of Team Penske.  We all feel like we’ve got some championships to win this year, not only on the Cup side but on the Nationwide side also.  Obviously, we’ve already got one with IndyCar so we’re just trying to catch up to them.”

Did you think you had a good chance to win with all of those late cautions?

“Restarts you never know what’s gonna happen, but Todd gives me a really good car that I can be aggressive with on restarts and I think that’s a big deal because the more in control I am the more aggressive I can be, and the more aggressive you are in restarts the more you’re in control of the restart.  You don’t want to be the guy going the wrong way.  Todd said a second ago about being on the offense and not on the defense.  It’s not just putting tires on that makes it like that, it’s having a car that’s capable of running in traffic and it’s something we work on a lot in practice and making sure that we have something that’s gonna be good in traffic and that can restart well.  We’ve seen it time and time again with these Sprint Cup races that it’s most likely gonna come down to a late-race caution, so you’ve got to be able to execute the restart and the first five laps around traffic.  That takes a good car and kind of knowing what to expect and trying to play it out in your head before it happens.”

How does it feel when you have a car that responds to your input?

“It’s nice when you say something about the race car and Todd is able to adjust it and fix it and it gets better. That’s what we get paid to do.  When we go to practice it’s, ‘OK, where we are on speed and what do we need to be better.’  We talk about it and be methodical about our adjustments and go from there.  I think Todd does a great job.  Todd doesn’t just make changes to make changes.  I know that’s how I would be if I was a crew chief.  I’d be like, ‘Yeah, yeah, just do that and do that and it will be fine and go for it.’  But Todd really understands and takes the time to talk it out with me, which I think is very important to dig out the deep information and then think about what the adjustment is gonna do and what the reaction to other parts and pieces of the car is gonna be when he does it, and understand why it changes a certain thing.  I think that’s what makes him very strong as a crew chief, and that’s why I wouldn’t be a crew chief because I would just go for it.  So together we work out.”

How much sweeter was it to win this race today compared to the last time?

“I didn’t know where Victory Lane was here actually, so I just made another lap.  I said, ‘I’m just gonna keep going around.’  I didn’t have any rear tires on it.  I think it drug the frame rails off the car, but I just didn’t want to come in.  I wanted to stay out there.  This is, like I said, how big of a win this is for me.  I never got out in front of all the fans on the front straightaway before but it was just too cool.  I couldn’t give up that opportunity.  Then I just wanted to keep going, so I just kept making laps out there.  There might not be much left of the car, but it was really special to win here and I wanted to make it last as long as I could.”

Has this track always been an outside line restart track or did weather conditions play a role?

“As far as I can remember, yes, the outside has been the preferred lane, but it’s kind of sketchy.  It is where you can get the momentum and most likely you come out in the lead, but the way you get in the corners here, it’s so flat just one lane down that the inside car gets loose really easily, so it’s dangerous being out there, but it is the preferred lane and that’s why when I was in the lane I did everything I could to make sure I had a good enough restart that I had position on him, that I didn’t have to race him through turn one.  That was my big goal on every one was just getting through the gear box as quick as I could.”

What happened on the restart when you and Brad were together and Harvick passed you guys for the lead?

“It’s exactly what I just talked about.  I got on the inside and we were both racing for the lead and I got loose and I started chasing it up.  Thank goodness he held onto it and we held onto it and we both ended up with good days out of it.  The important thing is that both of us have moved on to the next round and we can keep racing and working together and trying to win the championship.”

Did you think your shot at the win was gone at that point?

“No, it’s not over until it’s over.  I’ve seen these races change a lot in the late laps.  No, it’s never over until it’s over.  If I’m running fifth with four to go, I still think I can win this thing a lot of times.  I think that’s the attitude you’ve got to have.  If you get a late-race caution it’s like, ‘I’ve got a shot at it.  It might take a miracle, but I’ve got a shot,’ and that’s all I can ask for.”

What’s your attitude heading to Dover?

“Dover is a crazy race track.  It’s so much fun to go around it.  Right now, my focus is on Texas though.  We’ve got a test down there the next two days and we’ve got to make sure we make that test everything we can do out of it and make sure we’re ready for it when we get to Texas and try to win down there again.  Right now, I’m focused on that and then we’ll think about Dover.  You talked about being relaxed, it’s not really the case.  Walt said earlier our next focus is the next race and we need to keep doing what we’ve been doing.  We focus hard on each and every race track and we want to go to Dover.  Knowing that we’re in the next round is nice, but we want to go out there and win.  We want to keep the momentum going and you never know what’s gonna happen later on in this Chase.  There could be a time that we don’t make it to the next round and we’ve got to revert back to points.  It would be pretty nice to have a solid finish at Dover to try and get a good, solid points position at the end of the year.  Our goal is to win the championship though, so we have to get from round to round, but just because we’re in the next one doesn’t mean we’re gonna take an off weekend next week.” 

The next test for competitors is the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2014. Four drivers will be eliminated from the Chase for the 2014 Sprint Cup Series Championship next week. You can catch the race live on ESPN starting at 1 p.m. eastern time and the race begins at 2 p.m.

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Joey Logano Wins Fourth Straight Nationwide Series Race at Dover International Speedway

Joey Logano wins 2013 5-Hour Energy 200 Nationwide Series race
Joey Logano wins 2013 5-Hour Energy 200 Nationwide Series race

Dover, Delaware (September 28, 2013) – Joey Logano raced his way into the history books again on Saturday, winning his fourth straight NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Dover International Speedway in the 5-Hour Energy 200. Joey Logano is now the only NASCAR Nationwide driver to ever win four times on the Monster Mile of Dover and the only driver to win four consecutive events in any racing series at the mile long superspeedway in Delaware.

When asked about his historic day, Joey answered. “This has been my favorite place ever since I started here. Even when I barrel-rolled down the straightaway, it’s still my favorite place.”

With four straight wins at the Monster Mile, it is not hard to see why this track is his favorite place to race. The race on Saturday at the old track was recorded as the fastest ever in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, beating the previous record of 130.152 set in 1998 by Dale Earnhardt. Jr. by 1.082 mph.

The fast race was really due to the 160 laps they raced under a green flag. Logano had the pole advantage and due to this was ahead for the first 18 laps, before Kyle Busch made his move. By the time they reached the 26th lap things became a lot tighter on the track, when the caution flag was raised due to a spin by Brian Scott. The caution flag was raised again during Lap 37, when Donnie Neuenberger ran into the wall. By this time in the race, the race car of Joey Logano was running noticeably slower on the track. This prompted Joey to come into the pits for a long stop, during which time he had this to say.

“[Busch was] really fast in the beginning of the race and we were really loose,” Logano said. “I even wanted to stop at the caution before that. But we decided to stay out a little bit longer and got that next caution. We took that hit on pit road making these big adjustments. “These Nationwide races are short and you have to make big swings early. [Crew chief] Jeremy [Bullins] made some big swings on this thing and got it close, and we just needed the one more stop to fine tune it. I was just able to run my race and take care of the tires, and do the right things in the car.”

The extended pit stop worked wonders for the race car of Logano and Busch had elected to stay out on the track and gain ground, instead of pitting. When Busch eventually had to head into the pit during Lap 87, the rest of the field followed his example a few laps later, and this put Busch behind the rest of the racers on pit stops, and would mean he would need to stop one more time before the end of the race.

By this time the tires of Logano were 30 laps newer than the race tires of Busch and he started to rapidly gain ground on the leader. He caught Busch on Lap 141 and from that point on there was nothing but open race track between him and the finish line.

Logano “When your car drives good here and you have what you need, when you have lapped traffic it doesn’t even slow you down,” Logano said. “When you’re loose, you get stuck. In these Nationwide races, being able to get through the lapped traffic as quick as possible is key to winning these things.”

At the press conference after the 5-Hour Energy 200 Joey Logano had a few things to say.

Joey Logano – No. 22 Hertz Ford Mustang – We had a fast race car.  I don’t know what else I need to say.  This Hertz Ford was really good when we unloaded and then throughout practice the track changed on us a little bit and last night we made some good changes on the race car.  Jeremy and all the guys and girls on the team did a good job tuning the thing up for me.  We started the race too loose and they went for it.  These Nationwide races are short.  You’ve got to make big swings real early and I feel like Jeremy and I have worked enough together now that when I say loose and how loose he kind of knows how much it is and he made some big swings on this thing and got it pretty close.  Then we needed one more stop to just kind of fine-tune it.  After that second green-flag stop it was dialed in pretty good.  I was just able to run my race and take care of the tires, make sure I was doing the right things in the car, and get another victory.  It’s just really cool to get four in a row here at Dover.  That’s pretty awesome.  It’s been my favorite race track ever since I started here, yes, even when I barrel-rolled down the back straightaway it’s still my favorite place, and I think we showed it today.  Hopefully, my Shell/Pennzoil Ford tomorrow is just as fast as this one.  If that’s the case, it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”

The No. 22 Hertz Ford
The No. 22 Hertz Ford

The crew chief for the No. 22 Hertz Ford Mustang, Jeremy Bullins, also had few comments on the race and car.

Jeremy Bullins – Crew Chief -No. 22 Hertz Ford Mustang “It means a lot that we’re continuing to build good cars.  This is another brand new car that the guys at the shop built.  We just keep pushing forward and, like Joey said, the first race here we learned a lot about what the car needs for him.  I feel like we’ve learned a lot about, like what he says, when he says ‘loose’ we’re learning how to work on it and we’re getting closer with that.  We talked about it before the race, there were a lot of streaks to be kept alive today and I think we managed to pull that off, so it was just a great day on pit road.  The guys did a good job.  The whole team just did an excellent job today.”

When asked why it has been so hard for him to have success on the race track on Sunday at Dover International Speedway, Joey answered.

Joey Logano “I tell you what, on the Cup side I really do feel like I’ve had some strong cars here.  I’ve had a lot of misfortune in the Cup races, but I’ve had a lot of fast race cars here that are capable of running top five.  I’ve had loose wheels.  I’ve had flat tires.  I’ve had motors blowing up.  I’ve gone through a lot here at this race track and that’s why if you look at the stats like you did, you wouldn’t know that we ran as well as we did, but we have run really well at this race track on the Cup side.  I’m expecting tomorrow to be similar, I hope.  As far as the way the Chase has gone, Chicago, we were doing everything we were supposed to do.  We got the pole and we were leading laps, but unfortunately things break on race cars every now and again and that cost us a really good finish there and a lot of points, obviously.  Last week at Loudon, it’s probably my toughest race track that I go to.  I go from the place that I hate the most to the place I love the most this week and we came out of there with a 14th-place finish, which is not good, but, for me, is decent actually.  We come here this weekend and we know that we can still run up there.  We still have a lot of momentum on this team and we know what we did to get in the Chase and how good we are, and we’ve just got to keep pushing forward and keep fighting.  I always say that the 22 team over there never quits and they never die and that’s what we did to get here.  We’re not out of it yet.  We can still win it.  We’ve got a tough road ahead of us and we really can’t have a bad race in the next eight, but we can still do it.  We’re not out yet.  The fat lady is not singing yet.  She’s warming up her voice, but she’s not singing yet.”

Was it surprising to see this race run 160 laps to the finish line without a caution and were you surprised how easily you caught up to Busch after the series of green flags evened out? 

Joey Logano “Yes and yes.  They were really fast in the beginning of the race.  We were really loose, so I even wanted to stop the caution before that because we were hanging on.  We were pretty loose, but we decided to stay out a little bit longer and then got that next caution.  We took our hit on pit road a little bit making these big adjustments that we were gonna lose a couple spots and some guys took two, and then we were able to drive our way close to the front and then, obviously, he didn’t pit so he has to pit earlier than us, and then at that point we have newer tires so we were able to kind of run him back down.  I don’t really know what happened after that.  I was just driving in circles as fast as I could.”

“That’s when we just came out on new tires and I radioed in to Jeremy and said, ‘This car is right on.  It’s right where I need it to be,’ and I was able to carry really fast lap times.  When your car drives good here and you have exactly what it needs, when you get to lap traffic it doesn’t even slow you down.  But if it’s loose like it was, you get to a lapped car and you’re just kind of stuck and you can’t go anywhere.  He had it right where I needed to be that I was able to pass cars when I got to them and really make up that gap a lot because in these Nationwide races having a fast car is one thing, but being able to get through the lap traffic as quick as possible is key to winning these things.”

 

 

 

 

Greg Biffle Talks About the Chase

Greg looked pretty good during the practice session
Greg looked pretty good during the practice session

This weekend the NASCAR Sprint series will be at Dover International Speedway. Ford racing fans are looking forward to another great run on this track for Greg Biffle, who always seems to run well at this venue.

Greg Biffle is currently fifty in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings as we head to Dover International Speedway this weekend for the AAA 400. We asked him if he would drop by the infield media center after his practice session to talk about his chances of driving his way to the Chase championship in the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion.

Greg looked pretty fast on the track during the practice session
Greg looked pretty fast on the track during the practice session

What are your thoughts on the race this weekend?”

Greg Biffle “It’s been a great track for us, although as of late we’ve struggled a little bit here as an organization.  We’re looking forward to turning that around like we’ve been able to do at Richmond and some of the short tracks we’ve been a lot better on as of late.  We targeted this place to be a place we need to improve at and I feel that so far we’ve been a little bit better than we had been in the spring time here.  That gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the weekend and what we’re able to do with the car tomorrow.”

“Some think the Chase is really a three-man race this year. What are your thoughts on making it a four-man race? You always seem to have success during the Chase.”

Biffle “The Chase, from what I understand, is made up of 10 races and to be two races into the Chase and say it’s a three-man race already, to me, seems silly as to why somebody would want to put themselves in that position and say it’s a three-man race.  Obviously, you don’t have anything on the line.  It’s not like we’re making a wager in Vegas that it’s a three-man race.  It’s somebody’s opinion and everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but I can’t imagine with eight races to go that somebody would be willing to say, ‘Oh, this is a three-man race.’  Take for instance last week, we finished third and moved up six spots in the points to fifth.  I don’t know how one would say it’s a three-man race.  Now, if Kenseth goes on and wins the title does that mean it’s a three-man race or does that mean it’s a one-man race?  I don’t know.  I just think there are more than three cars in this thing right now.  Now, if we get past Talladega and there are four races to go or three races to go, I could see that.  But they could break for three races in a row and maybe not even go to Vegas and not even be in the top 10.  So I’d say it’s a little early is all I was getting at.  I wouldn’t be the one putting my name on the line to say there are only three cars in this hunt right now.  I wasn’t necessarily saying that for the 16 team.  I wasn’t making the case that it’s not a three-man race because of us, I wouldn’t count out Carl Edwards or any of those other guys that are right there in the hunt.  Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, I wouldn’t be counting those guys out just yet is all I was saying.  I wasn’t saying it just because of our case of one race we finished third and moved to fifth in points, that wasn’t the point I was making.”

“Ford racing hasn’t won a Chase in quite awhile. Are there any common reasons you can think of that would have caused this during the last decade? Do you feel a lot of added pressure, because of this, to win the championship this year?”

Biffle “I can’t really answer why we haven’t won a title.  You look at Carl and Carl tied for the points championship.  It doesn’t get any close than that and in 2005 we finished under the old point system 35 points behind Tony with a  major hiccup with three races to go.  Potentially, with not much in history changed, we’ve got two championships right there.  Some teams have probably done a little better job than we have and you look at Matt Kenseth for example.  He’s got seven wins on the season.  That might indicate some of the reasons why they’ve got more championships than we’ve got.  We’ve still got a little bit more work to do.  We’ve come a tremendously long way and I think we’re fairly competitive right now.”

There have been people who have suggested you Ford racers haven’t always garnered the attention other drivers get, even though you have showed pretty good, finishing in the top five year after year. Do you feel these comments are warranted?

Biffle “I think that’s just historically the way it’s been.  You talk about the guys that are having success and how great it is.  That’s sort of been the way it is.  Am I surprised they’re not talking about Carl?  A little bit.  Am I surprised they’re not talking about the 16?  Not really because we tend to slide a little bit under the radar all the time anyway, so it doesn’t bother me.  It gives you motivation to do well and compete every week and try to get what you can.  Like I always said before, if you’re winning races or you win the championship, they have to talk about you so put yourself in that position – put yourself in the position Matt is and they’re gonna be talking about you.”

Would you rather be in the position Matt was in? Can you think of any particular reason Matt didn’t have consistent success during his run with Roush?

Biffle “That’s a hard one.  I couldn’t pinpoint any particular reason why, but the other thing is I don’t mind flying a little under the radar.  It’s a little less pressure sometimes.”

How does it feel to have a teammate in the Chase? What things do you share with each other? How do you compete against each other?

“Carl and I have a lot of respect for each other.  We had an incident earlier in the season at Michigan where the whole organization sat down and I think we understand each other and appreciate each other’s abilities a lot more since that meeting and we kind of do what we can to help one another that doesn’t hurt yourself and that’s what came out of that meeting in Sonoma after the Michigan race and that’s the way we’ve really handled it since then.  Carl and I are parked next to each other in the garage and we’re talking about our cars and competition and how our car is in race trim versus qualifying trim, so we share everything and try to help one another with what we can.”