Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 10/14/14
Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion, comes into this weekend’s Coke Zero 400 having posted six straight finishes of 11th or better and has moved from 19th to 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. Logano, along with crew chief Todd Gordon, spoke about what has been the key to the team’s recent success and what it’s going to take to qualify for the Chase. JOEY LOGANO – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion WHAT HAS BEEN THE KEY TO YOUR RECENT HOT STREAK? “It’s hard to put a key to it, but I think it’s just the whole team. You can’t put it on one person. I think we’re all just fighting together and that’s the biggest thing is that we’ve got each other’s backs. There are no fingers pointing at anybody and we’ve been consistent. If there’s been one key, we’ve been consistent lately and we’ve been finishing where we should be finishing. We’ve been maximizing our finishes to where we’ve been running lately and that’s the most important thing, but being able to do that takes a whole team and that’s the tough part.” HOW DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM HAS REACTED TO THE ADVERSITY YOU’VE FACED THIS YEAR? TODD FEELS IT HAS SERVED AS A BOND FOR THE TEAM. “I think it did. There is a silver lining to everything, you’ve just got to find it. I think that’s what this team has done, they’ve found the silver lining to a lot of that stuff and was able to build a stronger, closer team. I think we’re all proud to be where we’re at right now considering everything that has happened. Some of the motivation is knowing where we would have been if it wasn’t for a penalty or if it wasn’t for one crash at Kansas or a hole in the radiator at Talladega. Everyone is gonna have that stuff, but this team is just strong and they are very capable of winning races and winning championships and I’m happy to be a part of it. It’s been a lot of fun for me. Todd has been doing a great job. He’s a great leader and we’re all in it together. Like I said earlier, we’re not pointing fingers. We’re all together as one team. We know we’re gonna make mistakes, but we’re like a family.” DO YOU FEEL THE LEARNING PROCESS AS FAR AS COMMUNICATION AND CHEMISTRY GOES IS DONE AND YOU’RE CLICKING AS FAR AS THAT ASPECT GOES NOW? “You’ve got to expect some time for him to get to know me, but we’ve spent that extra time together at the shop or after practice. We’ve spent extra time just being around each other and asking more questions. I feel like our strongest point right now is after practice we can sit down and really diagnose what’s going on with the car and come up with some good changes for the race when we start on Sunday. I think last week was a great example. We were a 10th-place car in practice, but when we started the race we were a third to fourth-place car. That’s the jump you need to make everytime after practice, making your car better, and then throughout the race keeping it good and making it better. The only way you can do that is to have some kind of communication and really understand what each other is thinking and what I need to go faster. Basically, I need to tell him everything that’s going on and everything that I’m doing inside the car and for me to understand everything and why he’s doing certain things. On both sides – I need to understand what his logic is on a lot of things and he needs to understand what I’m thinking, and when you get that, that’s that chemistry that you’ve got to have.” FROM A LEADERSHIP STANDPOINT HOW DO YOU VIEW THIS TEAM? “I feel like it’s my team. These are my guys and we’ve got each other’s back. I’m for whatever they need, but that leadership and that skill you have to learn, I don’t know how else I was supposed to learn it. I’m 18 years old when I started and even when you’re 21 years old it’s very difficult, especially when you didn’t have the results that you wanted and you’re working with guys that have been doing this for a long time is very hard. Todd and I we’re at the same level. We both want it a lot. We’re both willing to sacrifice the time to do what we’ve got to do to go out there and win these things and be successful, and this whole team has that same feeling. If we’ve got to go test somewhere in the middle of the week and they haven’t been home in forever, they’re not complaining about it. They’re out there working and if they’re working, I need to be working. There are a lot of different ways you can lead. You can lead by example, and I think that’s probably the best way, but you have to be somewhat of a motivator and somehow be the glue that holds everyone together.” HOW HAVE YOU GOTTEN BETTER AT THAT? “In every aspect I feel I’ve gotten a little better. You get to know the guys a little bit better. You understand what their jobs are and telling them they’re doing a good job every now and again or a thank you, that stuff goes a mile but it’s real. That’s the big thing. People can read through b.s. in a hurry. I know I can at least, and I feel like it’s real. I’m not gonna say anything that I don’t feel, and I think having those results rallies the team behind you. They want to be up there running up front and if we wreck and we’re trying to win the race, that’s A-OK. If we wreck and we’re running 20th, that’s kind of dumb and that’s where we’re all on the same page.” DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE A BIGGER VOICE WITH THIS TEAM AND HAS THAT GIVEN YOU MORE CONFIDENCE AS A DRIVER? “Oh yeah. The driver has a key role in making a car go faster because he has to say the right things, but it’s also up to the crew chief. When you make these changes and you’re working on a certain area of the corner and the car goes faster when they fix that, it’s a confidence boost for everybody on the whole team. It’s like, ‘Boom, OK, we found speed. We worked in the right area. Let’s keep going.’ That’s a confidence booster for the driver. That’s a confidence booster for the crew chief saying, ‘I made the right change. I’m in the right area.’ And the whole team is looking at the both of us saying, ‘Hey, we’re all right. Our two leaders are working together and making our car faster. We’re gonna be OK.’ I think that’s huge and what else I see in this team is when the race starts, say we are having a bad race and it’s starting bad, we’re not out of it. When I say we don’t quit, we don’t quit. At Sonoma we dropped like a rock all the way to the back and it was terrible. I didn’t get crazy. Todd didn’t go crazy and we made it better and we finished 11th. That’s not where we wanted to finish, but it looked like it was gonna be a 25th-place day for us, so we were able to not quit and never say die. When you look at Texas and all the stuff that happened there and we came home third, that’s a sign of a strong, strong team in the Shell/Pennzoil guys here.” YOU’VE GONE FROM 19TH to 10TH IN THE LAST SEVEN RACES AND NINE MORE UNTIL THE CHASE. HOW DO YOU KEEP THIS GOING? “Just keep doing what we’ve been doing. We’re right on the edge. We’re two points from being 12th, so it is nice to say we’re in it right now, but getting through Daytona is a big obstacle. There is a lot of stuff we can’t control here, but if something does happen, we have to be strong and figure out how to get the best finish we can like we’ve been doing. That’s the biggest thing we’ve been doing is just making sure we have the best finish no matter what’s going on. We’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing and if the opportunity comes up to win a race, we have to take that and take a shot to win it. Last week, we were close. We went for it and kind of got screwed up on a restart and then I was able to make it up some on the next restart, so, overall, fourth out of that day was a decent finish and that’s good. We’ve been stuck around eighth, ninth, 10th the last few races, so to crack the top five is important for us.” AT POCONO YOU WERE ADAMENT THAT YOUR TEAM COULD RACE INTO THE TOP 10 AS OPPOSED TO MAKING VIA THE WILD CARD AND YOU WERE RIGHT. “Yeah, and we can still race our way up in the top five. I’ve got that much faith in this team that we can get all the way up there. I want to be comfortable going into Richmond. I don’t really want to feel that stress of you have to finish here or you have to win the race. I don’t want that. It is cool to be involved in that and if you get in it, it’s gonna be worth it and it’s great, but you’re gonna lose a lot of hair that day. I want to be past that point by then, and I think everyone on this whole team does, so our goal is to get into this Chase right now. We’re doing what we need to do. We’ve got that consistency. We have a few race tracks coming up that are gonna be a little tough, but I think we’re gonna be fine.” TODD GORDON, Crew Chief – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion WHAT HAS BEEN THE KEY TO THIS SURGE IN THE POINT STANDINGS? “Keeping our head forward. It’s not looking back at what’s going on and trying to maximize everything we’ve got out of our race cars. I think communication and chemistry amongst everybody on this race team has been growing and growing and growing. It was a new situation to start the year and I think we’re finally clicking together and understanding the language each other uses, so I think everybody – from engineers to mechanics to driver to pit crew is all doing their best to keep the blinders on sideways and keep looking forward. I think a lot of it is just keeping an eye on the finish line and the checkered flag and not getting lost in between.” IS THERE ANY SURPRISE THAT IT HAS HAPPENED THIS QUICKLY? “Joey walked into the situation here and he’s been great. He’s together. Mentally, he’s all there and he’s invested in the race car the whole race and through all of practice. He never gets lost or sets off the course. It’s always ‘what do we need to do to get better?’ So as you continue to communicate that, I think we can continue to work on it and that’s been a definite benefit for our race team.” THROUGH THE COURSE OF 36 RACES JUST ABOUT EVERY TEAM IS GOING TO HAVE SOME ADVERSITY, BUT YOU GUYS HAVE PROBABLY HAD MORE THAN MOST TO THIS POINT. HOW HAVE YOU GOTTEN THROUGH THAT? “I think sometimes through adversity you grow, and I think it’s done that for the race team because it’s let us all see where everybody is at. Some of the stuff at the beginning of the year was bad in the sense of what happened if you look at the challenges of Bristol and California after those races, but I think there’s more bonding and togetherness that happens out of those situations, so that’s really helped our team chemistry. The situation at Texas forced us all to communicate more and plan a little bit more to have a better picture of what our weekends look like, and I think that’s been rewarded as we’ve gone past it.” HAVE THOSE INCIDENTS CHANGED JOEY AT ALL WHETHER IT BE MATURITY OR LEADERSHIP WITH THIS TEAM? “I think when he walked into this situation he had more maturity. It was a change in his life to make the switch over here, a change that was much different than what he had for the last seven years. So when he came over here you could see the confidence. I think he’s well mature past his age of 23. He’s very confident, not cocky, and that line can be tough at times, but he believes what he feels and believes what he speaks, and that’s great because that’s easy to work on from our aspect. You tell me we need this and we’ll go work on it. That direction has been great. The chemistry with everyone here has been good because it’s a bunch of guys that like working together.” WHAT’S THE KEY TO THESE LAST NINE RACES TO MAKE THE CHASE? “At Darlington we talked about how we just needed to put our heads down and continue to bang out top 10s. We felt like from that point we had 15 races to do it. We’ll continue to do that. I don’t think the game plan changes at all and that’s part of what we discussed last week on the plane ride home. We’ve made it to 10th, but we still need to execute the game plan that we have in process because it’s been rewarding. It’s worked over the last seven races and we just need to continue down that path. Obviously, every week you can change what your perspective looks like. There are guys like the 20 car for instance last week that’s in a position where they can gamble. I don’t feel like we’re in a position where we can gamble. We need to continue to slug races out the way we’ve slugged them out for the last seven races. At some point we may get to the point where we have a cushion and can do that. Obviously, we’re trying to win races every week, but you have to dampen that with we need to make sure we get quality finishes.” HE WAS OBVIOUSLY TRYING TO WIN LAST WEEK WITH THE WAY HE DROVE DOWN TO THE INSIDE ON THOSE FINAL RESTARTS. “I felt like one more restart would have been interesting. He’s done a phenomenal job driving our race cars and helping us to learn where we need to make our race cars better because we need to do that. That’s an every week process. It doesn’t matter. Every team in the garage has to do that.” AT POCONO THERE WERE SOME WHO FELT THE WILD CARD WAS HIS BEST CHANCE OF MAKING THE CHASE, BUT HE WAS ADAMENT THAT HE THOUGHT THE TEAM COULD RACE THEIR WAY INTO THE TOP 10 AND HE WAS RIGHT. “That’s been our focus and that’s the point that we tried to re-emphasize this week. Joey and I talked about that on the plane ride home from last weekend and also in the team meeting with the guys. We just have to continue doing what we’re doing because we’re points racing and we’re at a point where we’ve made great strides and we’re 10th, but we’re one point from 11th and two points from 12th and 13 or 14 from 13th. Looking forward your 10 points to ninth, 11 points to eighth and 21 to seventh, so our process and our plan through the last seven has gained us nine positions and has gained us points on the leader. We need to continue down that road and if we get to the point where we have a 20 or 30-point cushion, then you can go for the bonus point stuff. We’re not at that point, so we just need to continue on the path that’s got us here.” -Ford Racing PR  

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