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NASCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
May 22, 2007
DENISE MALOOF: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the NASCAR Nextel teleconference. We're pleased to have three guests with us today ahead of Sunday night's 48th annual Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. First we'll here from Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers UAW Dodge, who won both 2006 events at LMS. Later we'll be joined by Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, who leads all active drivers with five wins there in 11 career starts. Finally we'll speak with Joey Logano, the 16-year-old developmental driver for Joe Gibbs Racing, who beat reigning Daytona 500 champion Kevin Harvick Sunday in the first-ever NASCAR-sanctioned event at Iowa Speedway.
Kasey, welcome. I know this year has been a struggle thus far. This week you might be at the right track at the right time. Is Sunday turnaround day, do you think, for your team?
KASEY KAHNE: I mean, we're working hard to get back to where we were. You know, hopefully sooner than later we'll start figuring things out. The guys are doing good. I think we made gains every week for the last month. You get off a little bit. It's hard to get it all back in one week. The Car of Tomorrow has got much better for us. I don't know what we finished the other night in the All-Star race, but we made a few gains there throughout the race.
I'm thinking we'll be better this weekend, hopefully have a shot at a top 15 at the end of the night.
DENISE MALOOF: Sounds good. We'll now go to some media questions for Kasey.
Q. Kasey, you kind of hit on it, you can't obviously get it all back in one week, but could you maybe talk about the sense of urgency. I imagine it's a lot greater than it was two, three, four weeks ago when you were being very methodical about it. I know you want to win every race, but as you mentioned getting a top 15, at this point is it just getting the consistency going, get the top fives, tens? That must be hard for a guy that won the most races last year.
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I think more than anything it's just the consistency. I mean, yeah, we want to win races. But you don't come from finishing 20th or 25th to suddenly winning again. Seems like you have to make your way up there, figure things out as quickly as you can. But it takes time.
I'm just hoping to get consistent again, get back in the top 10, top 15. Once you start doing that, then you'll have your opportunities as races unfold and work out for you.
Q. Is there that sense of urgency at the shop? Time is ticking. Is there a little more of that now?
KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, I mean, everybody's just -- you know, I think people can get frustrated or just focus and do the best job they can, not get down. You know, I was feeling like I was getting down a little bit a few weeks back. Now I feel like I'm where I need to be, just trying to keep the guys motivated, working on things that we need to work on. If we keep doing that, it will get better for sure.
Q. Kasey, how do you mentally prepare for a race where you're looking for a top 15 and not a win? How do you deal with that?
KASEY KAHNE: Well, it's tough. But, I mean, it's just NASCAR. It's so competitive. When you do get behind, you don't just -- it takes a little bit of time to get back to where you need to be. You go into the race. As long as you can go in with that train of thought where you just are looking at more the finish, looking at giving the right information, keeping the guys up, racing that way, it's easy to do. Once we do that for a long enough period of time, hopefully we'll be going back to the track going, Man, we're going to win, we're going to do everything we can to win a race tonight.
Q. Does that change your driving style?
KASEY KAHNE: Oh, definitely. I mean, you have to change your driving style. When things aren't as good, if you don't change your driving style, you just crash. I mean, you have to change your driving style, change the way you look at things, the way you do things when it's like this, for sure.
Q. You just talked about changing your driving style. How much do you have to change your driving style with the Car of Tomorrow? Is it a burden changing your driving style when you're not successful combined with the Car of Tomorrow?
KASEY KAHNE: I mean, you change your driving style, but you drive what you got. You know, if the car's handling in a certain way, then you drive it that way. If it's handling a different way, then you have to drive it that other way. I mean, you just learn that as you progress in racing, as you go from track to track, learn how to get used to tracks and cars quickly, certain tires. You just drive your car to what it's capable of, what you can do. If you cross that line, then you usually hit the wall.
Q. Any thoughts of Dover in two weeks?
KASEY KAHNE: Look forward to it. We ran good at Bristol with the Car of Tomorrow. Our Car of Tomorrow program has been getting better for about the last -- probably the last month or so. I'm definitely looking forward to Bristol, hoping to change some things around.
Q. You have Pocono coming up in a few weeks. Talk about what makes that track so unique, things you enjoy about it, other things that make it difficult on a driver.
KASEY KAHNE: It's a pretty long race. It's usually hot up there. That would be about it that makes it difficult. Other than that, it's just a different track. You have three different corners. You have to change your -- change what you do in each corner to go fast.
We've had some really good cars there. Ran up front, been pretty strong. I kind of enjoy it. I enjoy having a change every time you get to a corner, similar to Indy. Every corner you get to, all four different corners at Indy you have to change for. It makes it fun to always be thinking of that. Sometimes those are the -- sometimes Indy and Pocono can be two of the most boring races to watch as a fan, but as a driver they're both really a ton of fun to always trying to get better and work on each corner.
Q. Could you be specific in pinpointing the problems your team has had this year. If you look at your four years, strong rookie year, then struggled, strong third year, now you're struggling, if there's any reason why it's been so up and down like that in your career?
KASEY KAHNE: Odd numbers. Odd-number years haven't been good for me. I don't know why that is. Even look further back than that, if you want. Just haven't had as good of years.
We're just missing on setup. That's all there is to it. We have lots of power. I think we have really good race cars. It's just a matter of setup and getting the car to work around the tire that we're running. Last year we had it figured out. This year we haven't.
That's the main thing, just getting the car to work around the tire that we run. We're getting better. We've been making -- definitely made progress in the last month. I mean, there's no doubt that we have done that. But at the same time we're still, you know, not where we need to be. We'll just keep working.
It's a little disappointing. Hopefully everybody can stay together and work together and get through it. We'll be back where we need to be hopefully before this year's out. We can have some good runs in an odd-number year.
Q. Is it too late to start thinking about the Chase? Going into the year, everybody thought you'd be a lock in there. It's going to be a struggle to get there. Is that still a realistic goal?
KASEY KAHNE: It's something we can shoot for. It seems like it gets further and further away each week with the way we're running. But, yeah, it's something we can shoot for. If we can go on a big roll, get a streak of a bunch of top tens, consistent finishes in a row, lead laps, they're still definitely a shot to get there. It's a lot closer than I would have ever expected this late in the season.
Q. Is Jimmie Johnson still the guy to beat at Charlotte?
KASEY KAHNE: After the test in Charlotte, seemed like he was definitely the guy that was so much stronger than anyone else. Then this weekend, I was really surprised that he just kind of hung out around fifth to ninth it seemed like for a lot of the race. I was surprised from where I was watching that.
At the end of the race, he always seems to find his way to the front. He did it again. I wouldn't have been surprised if he would have pulled it off. He's just really strong there. He understands the racetrack. His team, they understand it, too. He'll be definitely the guy that you have to beat this weekend if you want to win the race. I don't think there's anybody else that is as strong as him there, for sure.
Q. In that respect, his run that he's had at Charlotte, how big does that make your victory last year?
KASEY KAHNE: It made both of them huge. We beat him in both of them. If we weren't there, he would have won two more. He'd have seven. I mean, it was pretty cool to beat Jimmie Johnson, beat that team, as good as they are there. Our wins were really big at Charlotte last year. I remember them very well, hope to do it again sometime.
Q. What do you do when the times are kind of challenging like this? Do you get away from the track? Spend more time at the Sprint car shop? Run?
KASEY KAHNE: I like running a lot. I like spending time at the Sprint car track, then just spending time with Kenny, talk about things, trying to make things better. Sometimes you just got to wait, do what you can to show that you're working hard, keep the team, the morale, as good as you can. Other than that, try to make it through each day and not get too upset with not running well. It's a tough racing series.
Q. Has the level of competition been raised so far by organizations like Hendrick, RCR and Gibbs that might have caught some other teams by surprise?
KASEY KAHNE: I'd say. I'd say the way that those teams are, consistent, up front, as strong as they are, it's definitely caught some teams by surprise. But, you know, I think Evernham Motorsports is doing what we need to do. Eventually we'll be with those teams. We got good people here. We got a lot of people that want to beat Hendrick. As time goes on, we'll get back up there and be able to race with them and hopefully eventually beat them.
Q. Everybody has been talking about the complete turnaround from a year ago, not only just for you but the rest of the Evernham teams. Is it the Car of Tomorrow? Is it the Dodge? What has caused such a turn of events?
KASEY KAHNE: Just I think a lot of things kind of thrown at us in one year. Change. I mean, I don't know. We just don't have the results that we need. The Car of Tomorrow, the new nose on the Dodge, there's a couple of big things right there. There was a lot going on, a lot of work involved to make them right. I thought we did the proper testing. We did a lot of testing. We did a lot of things to help our program out. It just hasn't paid off yet this year.
We're still early in the year. I think at some point we're going to be where we need to be.
Q. What are your thoughts, and if you know your mom's thoughts, during introductions at a NEXTEL Cup race when fans mostly cheer you while they cheer and boo some of the other top drivers?
KASEY KAHNE: I don't know. My mom, she doesn't say anything about it. My thoughts are I haven't won enough, I guess. That's pretty wild to see the way that some of the drivers -- it's loud because they're getting boos and yells. For mine, I'm pretty lucky. I haven't had as many boos. You get flipped off once in a while, but usually only once or twice a weekend. It's not so bad.
I rode with Jeff Gordon in the back of his truck a couple times around parade laps at racetracks. It's pretty wild to see some of the stuff that gets thrown or pointed at him.
Q. When you're going through one of these periods, how do you not kick yourself and say, It's all my fault?
KASEY KAHNE: I mean, you would if you hadn't won races. If you hadn't won 13 poles, seven races in the last few years, you'd kick yourself, probably think you couldn't drive. But we've had some great races. We've done a lot of good things. I think that's the same reason why the team can't kick themselves. We just have to keep working hard, trying to figure out what we need to kind of come out of this slump. When we do, we'll hopefully be back to where we need to be, back up front again.
Q. I know several drivers have their particular teams and certain songs or music they listen to throughout the race weekend or the actual race. What types of music do you listen to throughout the race weekend at the actual race in order to get you motivated and pumped up?
KASEY KAHNE: Man, mine changes pretty often as new songs come out, as I listen to different people. I like country music a lot. I think right now my favorite is a song called I Tried, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Pretty good song. Kind of gets you going. The kind of music I like. It works out good.
DENISE MALOOF: Kasey, that does it for you today. We appreciate your time. Thanks for joining us. Good luck on Sunday.
KASEY KAHNE: Thanks.
DENISE MALOOF: We're pleased now to welcome the reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie, 2003 you have finished either first or second in every Lowe's Motor Speedway event, and last year you were the runner-up to Kasey Kahne, who was our previous guest today in both 2006 races. No wonder you call that racetrack your house.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Well, it's been a great place for us. I'm not sure where the exact title came from. I think I may have said it just joking around on the radio one time and now it stuck (laughter).
It's been a great racetrack for us. We had a great performance in the All-Star race. I think that we'll be even better with our 600 car and the package we're taking over there. So I'm really, really excited for the race coming up.
DENISE MALOOF: Let's go straight to some media questions for Jimmie.
Q. Jimmie, being a partner of Jeff Gordon, what is it like going out to the track with him and then having to compete with him perhaps for the win at the end of the race?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Well, I mean, in some respects I think we look at each other as competitors and know that we're going to need to race one another for the victory. I think that's kind of the beauty of the 24/48 shops. We're both able to win races and compete for championships.
We understand that competitive spirit, but at the same time we have a lot of respect for one another. The teams are really one until we go to the track. They got to separate out into their own independent jobs. But, you know, we work hard together, but then we race each other hard as well.
I think it's worked out well for us. We've had some heated finishes, short-track bumping and banging. We've made it through all of that stuff. It's been a great relationship. I really put Jeff in the lead role for responsibility on that, the way he carries himself, the way he kind of put these teams together, the way we exist between the two teams is largely his part.
It's great to race with him and fight for wins with him.
Q. Do you think there's going to be much change with the Car of Tomorrow here at Dover compared to Bristol a couple weeks ago?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It's going to be challenging, a lot like Bristol. I think Dover, a lot of people say that it's just a bigger Bristol. I agree. I think it's going to be a tough exercise for all of us, especially without a test. The transitions into the corners are going to be real hard to figure out with the splitter heights and the bump stops that we have on the cars. It's going to be a big, big challenge for us.
Q. Pocono in a few weeks here. Can you talk about what makes that track unique from other tracks on the circuit? What makes it enjoyable for a driver and what makes it difficult? Obviously it's a pretty long race.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, it is a long race. I know you know the track, the three different corners that it has. That's the challenge, is to balance the car out and make that run consistently through all three different types of corners that we have.
It was a lot more fun when we could shift. Now that we don't shift, it's probably one of the more boring races from the seat unfortunately. It used to be one of the most intense and complicated tracks to get around. Now it's kind of boring, to be honest with you, from where we're at.
Q. Going back to the traditional car this weekend after running a few Car of Tomorrow races, any one or two particular things that you have to kind of tell yourself, remind yourself that are going to be different between the two cars?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Fortunately the tracks that we run the Car of Tomorrow on are pretty small in size. You don't have that feeling you're looking for from one track to the other. With the All-Star race under your belt, going into the 600, we're going to switch back into the current car configuration for the crew chiefs and also the drivers.
But I think it's harder on the Cup drivers that are running the Cup car on a Car of Tomorrow weekend and then going into a Busch car. I think -- it works out having enough time from week to week from a driver standpoint to know what car you're getting in, mentally adjust going to each track.
Q. I want to ask you about Kasey Kahne. When you went into this season, was he on your short list of guys you figured were going to be your main competition this year? How surprised are you that he's way back where he is these days?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, without a doubt I thought he was going to be a contender for the championship and race wins like he was last year. I know they're working hard, trying to sort out their stuff. I think it's been a shock to myself and I'd say most of the racing community, especially to them. I know they're not real happy with where they are right now and working hard to fix that.
Q. You're one of the few teams, Hendrick, that's able to be consistent year to year. Kasey is about as inconsistent as any. How hard is it really to maintain it year after year after year?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It's tough. I think it's more than just the race team. I mean, a lot of that falls back on the organization. As you get into chassis development, engine development, there's a lot of components that make up the effort that we have at the racetrack. From year to year with rule changes, body changes, they got a new nose and tail this year which has thrown them off. To stay ahead of the curve on that stuff, to really think those things through, takes a lot more than what you see with just Chad and I. It goes back through all of Hendrick, the manufacturer itself, a lot of work there.
I just think through time and experience, Hendrick Motorsports knows what they're looking for. They know how to maintain, work the relationships with the manufacturers, just making steady forward progress all the time.
Q. I hope you don't cringe if I ask a Dale Jr. question. Assuming he does end up with a team that has won championships and consistently does so, could you draw on your own experience when you joined Hendrick Motorsports and talk maybe even in general terms about the pressure that a driver faces when he steps into a first-rate car that everybody says, If he doesn't win here, he's no good, rather than slowly progressing with teams that people don't expect quite so much from?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, it just depends on the circumstances, to be honest with you. I think it depends on the personality type, kind of the luck that comes -- the luck that you have, the performance you have getting started.
In my situation, I certainly had a lot of expectations and a lot of people wondering why Rick Hendrick was putting this kid that just won one Busch race in a car. But from my perspective, I'd been living it year after year. I felt like I had what I needed to be competitive and to race at the Cup level. I was given the shot that I needed.
In my mind, I was excited for the opportunity. I knew that if it didn't work out, I was going to be in trouble. But I would rather have that chance, have that opportunity than anything. I had a positive spin on it.
Q. It wasn't like this crushing weight of anxiety or expectation?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: You have that crushing weight, but you can I think choose to have a positive feeling with it or a negative one. I was able to find the positive in it. The weight's there, the pressure's there. But I went to work with that pressure and smiled through it because, man, I was driving for Hendrick Motorsports, I was getting my chance. That's all I could ask for as a driver. Give it a shot. If it doesn't work, I'll go figure out something else to do. If not, I'm going to win races and championships, my dreams are going to come through.
I think it just depends on your personality type and then also we got off to a good start so it was easy to build confidence in what we were doing, what we had built. That helped.
I think if you get off to a slow start, the pressure starts working its way in, you're at this team, it hasn't worked, why. The negative side starts coming in.
Q. Given all the success you had at Charlotte, not winning the last couple races there, what sort of mindset do you go into this race with now?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Still the same. We've been unfortunately running second for the last three attempts at Lowe's Motor Speedway. I feel good. We've been there knocking on the door for a win. If we're putting ourselves in position consistently like this, we'll get back to Victory Lane there. I'm excited.
Q. Do you feel there's anything you have missed on in the last two points races there when you ran second to Kasey?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: We were a little too tight at the end of the night. We just didn't have the car loose enough for us. The track conditions changed. We worked real hard on that finishing mark for the setup of the race car during our test session. I think we'll be in good shape.
Q. Finishing second is nothing to complain about, but given how much you have won at that racetrack, is it a disappointment to finish second?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: No. I mean, of course we want to win. But to finish second against the competitors, the competition that we have, it's good to finish second, there's no doubt about it. A lot of hard work that goes into it. Running second is still a big thing, big honor. We want to win. We feel like this is one of our best tracks to win at. The statistics show that. We're eager to leave here with a victory. If we don't, end second, we still did a good job.
Q. This is an Earnhardt question, too. Can a race team have too many big stars on it?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I don't know. I think people have watched Jeff and I and have expected to see some type of breakdown in the way the 24/48 works together, our friendship, working relationship. That hasn't happened. I think it really depends on the people, how that works, how everybody buys into the program.
I have no clue if that situation would ever present itself at Hendrick. But if you think of Joe Gibbs Racing, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, he's going to be a big star, that situation could also be there. It could also be at Childress. I just think it depends on the people involved. It would be tough to predict if it would be a problem, whatever team he would end up.
Q. Not necessarily saying he would go to Hendrick, but how do you think your people would respond were somebody like Junior to come into the shops?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I don't have a clue. He is a hot commodity, we all know that. I don't know how he would fit in at a Hendrick. In my mind, I think it would be a great fit for Gibbs with the relationships with Tony and Denny that he has. Then Childress is a no-brainer for all obvious reasons. Again, it just depends. I think Junior's done a lot of soul searching and growing through this whole process. He's ready to buckle down and get to work. Regardless where he ends up, he's all in, he's going to make it happen.
Q. You're clearly dominating this season. Certainly raising the level of competition. What is it that you're doing differently this year than past years?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I don't think we've intentionally done anything different. We're prepared. We're putting good race cars on the track. We have our team behind us. Our focus is still the same. The direction that we're working in as a company is still the same. I think we've been in position and have capitalized on some victories, have shown some sort of dominance here. We've all been talking about the different cars that were so competitive in certain events, then a Hendrick car won. We've been able to close the deal here at the start of the season. I'm not sure it's going to continue that way. There's a lot of teams real close with times better than us on the track. We'll ride this wave as long as it's here.
Q. Talk about your teammate Kyle Busch. Seems to be wrecking every week. Is he too aggressive, needs to learn some patience?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: He's certainly aggressive. That's why he's a big help to Hendrick Motorsports, he's not going to leave anything on the table, if it's in qualifying or practice. He's had some difficulties here in races. But he's a young driver that's still learning a lot. He's winning races, so it's hard to argue too much when you got a guy out there winning races.
Q. Because of the way NASCAR has grown, you being one of the more popular drivers, years ago in NASCAR it used to be you'd race on Sunday, go home for a couple days, head to the next track. Now it's race on Sunday, do a hundred sports shows Sunday night, Monday you're on various television shows, Tuesday other commitments, finally get back to the next track. How do you keep up with all that stuff?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: It really just depends on the week. Some weeks are much more packed full of responsibilities than other weeks. In all honesty, it seems that when we get to the track and climb in the motorhome on Thursday evening, it's almost the part where we kind of -- my wife and I spend some time together, catch up. We shut the phones off, just kind of slow down and get ready for the race weekend because the week is so busy really starting with Sunday's race all the way back to Thursday, a very packed time for us. We get to catch up at the racetrack.
Q. You haven't been asked to star in any movies yet, have you?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: No movies. Not my deal.
Q. You're probably used to being cheered and booed at the same time during NEXTEL Cup introductions. When it happens, do you know what emotions your wife and mother feel?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think we're all getting used to it. I know from my own experience, talking to both my wife and mom, it's tough to hear the boos because they know me, know what I'm about. People that are booing haven't had a chance to get to know me and know what I'm about. Once we all got some experience and time in dealing with it, you realize they're just sportsfans, they're going to root for their guy, boo the opponents, everything's good. Just part of being in sports.
Q. Did it take you long to get accustomed to that?
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Not really. Driving for Jeff Gordon, there's certain parts of the country where they boo you just because you know the guy. Out of the gate I had to learn how to accept this at a fast rate.
DENISE MALOOF: Jimmie, that does it for you today. We appreciate you giving us a call and being with us. Good luck this weekend.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: You got it. Thanks so much.
DENISE MALOOF: We are now joined by our third and final guest on today's teleconference, and that's Joey Logano, who is the 16-year-old developmental driver for Joe Gibbs Racing. Joey had a very significant win this past weekend at Iowa Speedway. He beat Kevin Harvick in the first-ever NASCAR-sanctioned event at that track.
Joey, I know Sunday's victory in Iowa was your third NASCAR Grand National Division win in four starts. You out-dueled Kevin. That still has to be a thrill, even today.
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, it was definitely real fun to run with Kevin, especially after he won the All-Star race the night before. It was cool to be on the track with him. Beating him, it was pretty cool.
DENISE MALOOF: Let's go right to some questions for Joey.
Q. Is there any one thing that puts you in a position to shake off the fact who is actually stalking you around the racetrack in Iowa, racing you side by side? How impressed were you that this NEXTEL Cup start didn't come in, elbow you, go on?
JOEY LOGANO: It was pretty cool how he ran me real clean. I think he kind of expected a lot of us to run him dirty. Really, it was just the two of us out there. No one that had much for us. I think we swapped the lead 15 times. It was pretty cool. We ran door-to-door so many laps, it wasn't even funny. It was definitely cool, especially after he won the All-Star race. A lot of fun.
Q. Can you talk about the patience it's taken to come up through the ranks the way you are, what it's like to already be under a development contract. I'm sure you're antsy to go.
JOEY LOGANO: My whole life I really had to wait on my age. When I was nine, had to wait till I was 12 to run Legends cars. I was still running Legend cars on unsanctioned tracks. It's good to be with a team like Joe Gibbs Racing so I know I'll be ready to go when I'm 18. I'm just trying to get all the experience I can right now.
Q. How special was it for you after doing this door-to-door battle with a NEXTEL Cup superstar on the track, he came over and talked with you in Victory Lane?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, it was cool to be on the track with him for sure. He was a real fun guy to race against. We ran door-to-door for a long time. It was real neat to run against him. We had a blast. He came up to me at the end of the race, said he had a lot of fun. We ran so clean the whole time, I think we might have bumped each other once coming off a corner. I think he appreciated how clean we ran each other.
Q. In this form of racing, how much does it raise the level of your game when a guy like Kevin Harvick comes in and races with you guys?
JOEY LOGANO: It raised it a lot. Our fourth race of the year. We won two of them coming up to that. That was the fourth race, won three of them now. It was cool to be able to beat him. We knew he was going to step it up a lot. In practice, I think he was sandbagging a little bit. Went out to qualify, put it on the pole. We knew we had something for him the whole race. We took tires; he took tires at the same time. By the time I got to him, I saved a little bit on the way up, had a little bit more at the end than he did.
Q. You talk about your age, kind of how it's limited you. Where do you see yourself in five years?
JOEY LOGANO: Hopefully in the NEXTEL Cup Series. We'll see how it goes. Definitely got to keep doing what I'm doing right now: winning races. Just whatever I get in, I got to win, whether it's a go-kart or a Busch car, I don't care. Really I think winning is what gets you there. That's what I'm trying to do.
Q. Did this weekend change any expectations for you beyond five years from now?
JOEY LOGANO: It might have. I think it was a real big win for sure, just to be beating Kevin Harvick, especially after he won the All-Star race. Yeah, I think it definitely was a big step in my career.
Q. How difficult, if it is difficult, is it to maintain focus on what you're doing right now and not look ahead to that next career step? What you've done in four races, I guarantee someone is looking ahead. Who is the most critical guy in your race team as far as keeping your head straight?
JOEY LOGANO: I definitely just have to worry about what's going on right now, let that take place as it comes. Take one day at a time. I'd say my crew chief Mike is keeping my head on tight right now. He's a real down-to-earth guy. My whole family does real good like that, too. Definitely it's a lot of people that gets us here. Those are just some of the few guys that get me here.
Q. How do these Grand National cars relate to a Hooter's Pro Cup car that you've driven before?
JOEY LOGANO: They're real close. The Pro Cup car is pretty much the same thing as these are. Spec motors in these cars. I'd say the only real big thing is you have the biased ply tires on these, the Pro Cup car had radial tires. The horsepower, they say it's a little less. They both say they have 600 horse. Seems like the Pro Cup car is a little low on torque. The spec motor runs good down the straightaway once it gets going.
Q. Are they about equivalent in weight?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, they're the same weight. Basically even to a Busch car or a Cup car, they still drive pretty darn close to the same. In Busch East, you can run the 110 wheel base or 105. We've been running both cars. Both of them are pretty good.
Q. NASCAR this year lowered the age restrictions which enables you to get into the series and move up. When would you have turned 17?
JOEY LOGANO: May 24th. So a couple days from now I'll be 17. It definitely helped when they lowered the age. I definitely wouldn't be where I am today without them lowering the age, having a team behind me like this. Definitely helped me.
Q. How did you react to the news they had done so? Were you saying, Now is my time?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I mean, I actually didn't know why it was 18. It's still a short-track series. When they moved it down, Gibbs took notice of that. That's when we started talking about getting a Busch East program started. That's when we got a bunch of older Cup cars from the Cup shop, just started getting those ready for this year. It's paid off so far.
Q. In term was of the way the season has gone for you, have you have scripted it any better up to this point?
JOEY LOGANO: No. Actually doing better than I thought we would. I go to every race thinking I'm going to win because I'm probably the most competitive person in the world. I don't like coming in second. Me and second don't get along good. I didn't really think we'd be doing this good. I was disappointed at Elko when we didn't win and we had a fast enough car to win. Kind of blamed that on myself. I really couldn't have asked for anything else. I got a great car everywhere else we went so far. Won three out of four. Four out of four would be better. Right now I couldn't ask for much more.
Q. Have you been testing the Car of Tomorrow or any other cars for Gibbs?
JOEY LOGANO: I haven't gotten into a Car of Tomorrow yet, to be honest with you. I know we've been talking about it for a while now. I'm not sure when we're going to go test one of those. Definitely would like to.
Q. Are you getting to interact much with the Cup drivers at Gibbs?
JOEY LOGANO: We see each other once in a while. Denny works out at the same time I do. I see him a lot. J.J. is real cool. Tony lives up in Indiana. I don't get to see him a whole bunch. When I do, it's pretty cool.
Q. How did you end up at Gibbs Racing? Was there a little firestorm of people bidding for your services when you signed with Gibbs?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, definitely there was a little bit of something. We came back, we talked to Roush, Ganassi, Gibbs, all in one day I picked up three different contracts. Before I opened them, my dad said, Which one do you want to drive for? I said, Joe Gibbs Racing. That's the one I knew I wanted to drive for. I just like being here, the whole family atmosphere. I have no problem going up to Joe or J.D., asking a question, saying something. I feel like this is home for me.
Q. I've heard Mark Martin mention your name. Have you driven for him?
JOEY LOGANO: I've known Mark for a few years now. He took a liking to me a long time ago, running Legends cars up at Lowe's, the shootout. I drove his fast trucks two years ago I think, probably three years now, down in New Smyrna over the winter just a little bit to play around. It was fun. We won four races or something out of three, five races. We won a ton of races. It was pretty cool.
Q. If you're going to be 18 in a year, have you talked with the folks at Joe Gibbs about a specific plan? Do you think you'll be racing truck next year, maybe even Busch? There's the possibility of Mark Davis, them going to a fourth car with Cup. How do you plot out your future?
JOEY LOGANO: I know they've been talking about a Busch car next year sometime. Not real sure when or what car I'm going to drive yet. I know I have a long-term relationship with Gibbs. We'll see how it goes.
Q. Nothing specific other than you might drive some Busch next year?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah. I know they're talking about it right now. I'm not allowed to say anything yet. We'll see.
Q. You probably have grown about three or four inches since signing with Joe Gibbs. Do you know how much you've grown mentally in that time?
JOEY LOGANO: I've grown a lot. Every race I go to, I've learned a lot. Especially this last race, running behind Harvick, I was watching his line, watching how he gets into the first turn after a restart. I learned a lot there paying attention to that in the beginning of the race. I think that's what won me the race at the end of the race.
He would get into the first turn and wheel it in there, just drive it in so hard. I didn't know how he was able to do that. Last restart I just said, Heck with it. I drove it in as hard as he did. He was trying to clear me before we came out of that corner, kind of slide up in my groove. We pretty much drove in the same difference, got back on the gas way too early because he was trying to clear me. I heard him get back on the gas; I got back on the gas. We both knew we had to lift again before the corner was over. It got big coming off that corner. That's the corner that won the race.
Q. Can you talk about what it's like when you finally got your public driver's license.
JOEY LOGANO: Pretty neat. I don't have to bum a ride no more on anybody. It's been, what, a year now since I had it. Definitely nice I don't have to call everybody to go somewhere. It's nice.
Q. You're going to be celebrating your birthday. Anything special planned for that day?
JOEY LOGANO: No. Just another day for me. I'll probably go out and hang out a little bit. I think I'll probably go work out. Just another day for me.
Q. You had the three offers in front of you, Roush, Ganassi, Gibbs. Strong teams. What put Gibbs ahead of those two?
JOEY LOGANO: I'd say the relationship that we had right off the bat between me and Joe and J.D. I just felt real at home here. We did this contract in five days and it was done. They didn't mess around. That's kind of the way I liked it. Got done quick, I was able to keep racing. It was pretty neat.
Q. What about their equipment, the fact they put you in some pretty strong equipment? Has it borne out for you, you made the right decision?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, for sure. When they said we were going to move right into the Busch shop, run our stuff out of here, I couldn't ask for anything more. I knew I was going to get good equipment. That's what it takes. You got to run good with not good equipment to get good equipment. Once you get good equipment, you can run real good like we are right now. It's real good.
Q. Fans that may not know what a developmental driver is, besides being locked into a contract, what do you do for Joe Gibbs?
JOEY LOGANO: I drive the Busch East car for Joe Gibbs Racing and been doing real good this year. We won three out of four races. Just couldn't really ask for anything more right now.
Q. Do you do any testing for the Cup and Busch guys?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I do some of it sometimes. Last year I did quite a bit of Cup tests. This year I haven't done as many. I know some are coming around the corner here.
DENISE MALOOF: Joey, that's all we have for you today. Appreciate you coming on with us, participating. Thanks for your time. Congratulations again.
JOEY LOGANO: Thank you.
DENISE MALOOF: To all of you in the media, thanks for joining us today. We will see you next week.