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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: IRWIN TOOLS NIGHT RACE


August 23, 2014


Walter Czarnecki

Todd Gordon

Joey Logano


BRISTOL, TENNESSEE

KERRY THARP:テつ Let's hear from our race winner of tonight's 54th annual Irwin Tools Night Race, and our winner is Joey Logano, and he drives the No.22 Shell Pennzoil Ford for Team Penske.テつ He's joined by crew chief Todd Gordon and Walt Czarnecki from Team Penske.テつ Joey, big weekend as I mentioned earlier for Ford Motor Company and Ford Racing as they sweep all three races here at Bristol, dating back to Thursday morning, winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and then last night, Ryan Blaney winning in the Nationwide car, and then today Joey winning in the Sprint Cup car.テつ Joey, three wins now, you're right up there with‑‑ you were talking about that the other day ‑‑テつ right up there now with four other drivers with three wins with two to go before we set the Chase field.テつ Certainly I'd like to hear your thoughts about winning at Bristol.テつ Certainly this has got to be a big one for you.
JOEY LOGANO:テつ It's a really big one.テつ You know, I feel like the Bristol night race is maybe the third or fourth biggest race of the year, just the atmosphere before the race.テつ If it doesn't pump you up, nothing does.テつ It's just the baddest, mamma jamma racetrack ever built.テつ You've got to hustle the car so hard.テつ Something we don't typically have.テつ We talked a little bit about it when I was in here the other day about how hard you had to drive the car and wondering if it was going to be like that in the race, and yes, you've got to drive the car that hard in the race to go fast.テつ It just means a lot to be able to get this victory, and obviously Penske with the one‑two finish there and all three of Team Penske drivers being able to get a win with Brad in the truck and Ryan last night and ourselves trying to put the cherry on top in the Cup race.テつ All of us got a win, everyone is happy, so definitely a very special win for Team Penske to be able to do that, and for Ford.テつ Yeah, right now the momentum we have in the cars that we have, we've been fast at every type of racetrack, and I wish we were in Atlanta tomorrow.テつ Well, maybe not tomorrow.テつ I'm going to enjoy tomorrow.テつ But Monday sounds good.
KERRY THARP:テつ Todd, congratulations, certainly this race team is showing its championship form.テつ You guys have really been putting together some excellent runs here of late but got that win here tonight at Bristol, huge crowd.テつ This had to be a big win for you as a crew chief.
TODD GORDON:テつ Definitely.テつ It's the epitome of short track racing, right, especially the way the new tire‑‑ the tire change that we had and what they did to the racetrack, and rubbered up so hard you had to perform‑‑ you had to execute at every level.テつ We've had good race cars here through every race Joey and I have been here together, and we haven't executed at every level, but we got an opportunity to do that today, and just a phenomenal, phenomenal place to race.テつ It brings you back to the roots of where you came from, where you're going to rub on people a little bit, and you run hard, and Joey did a phenomenal job of it tonight, and this whole race team is definitely building momentum right now, at the right time, I believe.
KERRY THARP:テつ Walt, certainly a big weekend for Team Penske, one‑two finish here tonight, both of your drivers are secured into the Chase, both have three wins, both are going to be championship contenders.テつ Just talk about how the organization feels about all this at this time.
WALTER CZARNECKI:テつ Well, thank you.テつ I think that it was important, Mike Nelson and I had a little conversation tonight before the start of the race, and I said to Michael, who's the general manager of our program, I said, I think it's really important that we continue the momentum that we have.テつ It would be great to win one of these last three races before the Chase, not to back off and just keep the pressure on, and Joey certainly demonstrated that tonight, as did Brad.
And I think it illustrated, again, the place where we are right now in preparation for the Chase.

Q.テつ Joey, when you're trying to run Matt down, you look in your mirror and you've got Brad all over your back bumper.テつ How much of a distraction was that for you?
JOEY LOGANO:テつ It's not a distraction, it's just something you have to put into the equation of when you're catching him.テつ I wanted to make sure I had enough room behind me so if I made that pass and didn't succeed and made that pass, I had a hole to get back in and I wasn't going back to third.テつ Obviously second is a disadvantage on the restart, but third is even worse, so I wanted to make sure I definitely stayed in front of third, so I just kind of hounded him for a while and waited for that mistake and waited for that golden opportunity where I knew I can clear him.
So I waited and waited, hoping it wasn't a restart because I was going to be in trouble, but finally he got a little bit up in the rubber, up high, and he got a little free, and I got a good run at the same time, was able to get up underneath him and get some good position into the corner, slide up.
Yeah, it took patience, you know, because if I didn't do it, I was going to go back to third and that kind of takes your shot at winning away.
That's the way we had to race all night is just look at how far the car is behind you, wait for lapped traffic, and capitalize then.

Q.テつ Joey, Brad just said a while ago that he thought this was the most grueling race of the year.テつ Do you agree with that?
JOEY LOGANO:テつ Yeah.

Q.テつ And also, do you think your youth served you well for a physically and mentally demanding race like that?
JOEY LOGANO:テつ Yeah, I mean, I made it, but it definitely was a very, very tough race.テつ I feel like it's the most physically demanding racetrack, not only for the driver but for the race car.テつ You think about the loads these things are on, there's never really a break.テつ You're just always on the gas or the brake or in the turn.テつ There's always something going on, and as a driver you don't get a break inside the race car, either.
A few times the caution comes out, and you're like, thank God, and then you're going green a minute‑and‑a‑half later, like what the heck.テつ It definitely was a tough race.テつ That's why we all train and try to be in the best shape we can, to get through it.
But who says we're not athletes?テつ I disagree with that, especially today.テつ You've got to be able to focus so hard and drive your car so hard up against the wall, and one mistake takes you out of this thing.テつ The focus you've got to have, and obviously like we were just talking about, the thought process you have to have when you're trying to pass cars and trying to communicate with your crew chief, there's just a lot of things going on, and it's a very small racetrack when you're making 15‑second laps.テつ It's definitely a very tough racetrack for sure.テつ That's why it means so much to win here.

Q.テつ Do you feel you're maybe flying under the radar as far as this championship is concerned, and do you feel you can maybe be a surprise attack on the veterans going into the championship, and do you feel they kind of underestimate you not only going into Richmond but going into the Chase?
JOEY LOGANO:テつ I don't care what they think of us.テつ We're going to do what we've got to do.テつ They can underestimate us.テつ They can overestimate us.テつ I don't really care.テつ We're going to go out there and do the best we can, do what we've been doing.テつ Todd Gordon and myself have been working very good together and communicating a lot with our race car and we really understand what we need to race well, and that's the way we practice, and it shows up when it comes game time in the race.テつ We're going to keep doing that.テつ They can think whatever they want to think, but I know inside, this 22 team, this whole 22 team feels like we're contenders to win this championship.テつ You know, it would be really weird if we didn't think we were.テつ We've got three wins right now, we've got a good shot, we've been fast at every single racetrack, and that's because this whole 22 team, and all of Penske, but this 22 team is always looking for that next bit.テつ No one is just doing their job and saying I did my job and that's enough.テつ They're always looking for that extra little bit at how they can become better and how they can make our race car better, and that's what it takes.テつ It's definitely the best shot I've ever had at winning the championship, I can promise you that, so I feel very confident going into it.

Q.テつ What would it mean to win the championship for Ford?
JOEY LOGANO:テつ It would mean a lot.テつ That's kind of a dumb question.テつ Of course it's going to mean a lot.テつ Winning the championship is the biggest thing you can do in this sport, and doing it for Ford, yeah, doing it for Team Penske, doing it for everybody.テつ It's a lot of pressure when you go into it, but we're a team, we do it together.

Q.テつ Joey, we saw this year more than in previous years guys having to run the top.テつ Only one or two guys could make the bottom work.テつ Jamie was the only one tonight that could make the bottom work.テつ Aric Almirola mentioned earlier that maybe they should consider grinding the bottom like they did the top to open the bottom back up.テつ Any thoughts about that?
JOEY LOGANO:テつ You know, it's very hard to be able to do it well because now the top is come in so well.テつ But at the same time it does produce a pretty good race.テつ You know, it's kind of like the old Bristol, everyone was on the bottom and you had to kind of root and gouge to get people out of the way.テつ It's the same thing but up top.テつ So it's definitely different but similar, and I think it puts on a good race, and I think the fact that some of the lapped cars are a little bit slower, that's your opportunity to pass, right, so when you can pin a guy and stuff like that, that's your shot.
For us, we had a pretty good car that we were able to make passes throughout the day, but on restarts you have a few laps, you're trying to make the bottom work, then you have to find a hole to get back up top and let your car come to you and wait for that opportunity to pass somebody.
But we knew that going into it, so it's not very frustrating for a driver, and like I said, my car was good, so that keeps me from getting too frustrated, also.テつ I felt like it was a good race tonight.テつ There was some good passing, some good strategy going on.テつ Yeah, running up against the wall, it's very fast up there, but I feel like there's definitely some things you can do, a few different lines you can do to make your car better or faster or whatever.

Q.テつ Joey, when you pitted and Matt stayed out, were you concerned that you didn't have enough time or you just wouldn't be able to pass them?
JOEY LOGANO:テつ No, I wasn't too concerned.テつ I didn't really think about it.テつ I was just thinking about how I could have the best restart I can and make something happen out of this.テつ I felt like I was in good position.テつ Todd gave me four tires there and the pit crew did a great job on keeping our track position, and restarting sixth, it's better than fifth, and I made sure I had a good start there, pass as many cars off the get go as we can, then settling in and start working on the 20.テつ I was impressed with how well the 20 hung in there on old tires like that.テつ I saw guys on two tires tonight that eventually would fall off towards the end of the run quite a bit.テつ He kind of hung in there pretty well, so he had a pretty fast race car.

Q.テつ Joey, have you even had a brief thought about the fact that you now have two attempts to lead everybody into the Chase, and at the same time, do you believe that your teammate will be your biggest challenge in the Chase?
JOEY LOGANO:テつ Well, I haven't thought about it yet, but as far as getting that next win, but I do feel like Atlanta is a good racetrack for us, a place we were very, very fast, probably the best race car I ever had was last year in Atlanta, so very, very excited about going back over there.テつ That will be fun.テつ But you know, really, leading into the Chase does mean something.テつ It's pretty cool if we were able to do that.テつ But I'd much rather lead them at Homestead and do it that way.テつ But I do feel like Brad is going to be one of the top contenders to win this championship along with us, and the guys that you see tough out there.テつ You never know.テつ I know it's a different Chase format than normal, but you see guys kind of run so so and then all of a sudden the Chase starts and they pick it up a notch and all of a sudden they're kicking butt, so you can't really rule anybody out.テつ And you never know what's going to happen, and it's new for everybody, what's going to happen.テつ Obviously fast race cars and being able to capitalize right now is what we need to do when we get into this Chase.

Q.テつ Todd, Joey said in victory lane that he'd never won more than one race in a year and now he's won three.テつ How much of that is the equipment and how much have you kind of seen him grow into being a Sprint Cup driver and just mature and all that stuff?
TODD GORDON:テつ I think everybody at Team Penske does an awesome job preparing good race cars.テつ I think that shows with a one‑two finish tonight, but you can't do anything with great race cars unless you've got great talent behind the wheel.テつ I think as our second year has gone on, Joey alluded to this earlier, but we understand what we have to have in practice to be successful come race time, and I feel like that's something that's separated last year from this year.テつ We know the balance we're looking for, we know what we're looking for, and we're not necessarily the fastest car in practice, and that was true here.テつ We battled through practice and did a lot of things, but we got to the end of it, and I think lap average we were 11th or 12th in the first practice, and we looked at what we had, but we had‑‑ the car was driving the way we needed it to drive to be successful come race time, and I think that showed tonight, that when we got to lap traffic we could really hustle through it.
To your original question of how much have I seen him grow, he came in here fairly confident.テつ He owned the position when he came to the 22 Shell Pennzoil car, and that ownership and the relationship of him to myself and not only myself but everybody on this race team has just continued to grow, and I think an often used word that never gets as much serious consideration is we have chemistry.テつ There's nobody here on this race team that doesn't believe we can be successful and isn't pulling rope together.テつ That is I think what helps us to have speed every week.テつ I think we'll continue to build off that.

Q.テつ I'll ask Walt this.テつ Compared to the preseason, how would you sum up the dynamics in your shop right now with a young driver that's already won a championship and a young driver that's come on like crazy this year?テつ Where do you think you're at compared to where you expected to be at?
WALTER CZARNECKI:テつ I think candidly knew we'd have a good team this year because as you recall coming off the championship we were coming off some significant changes.テつ Think about it, we switched from one manufacturer to Ford.テつ That was a big enough change.テつ There was a rules change, so we were starting with a new car.テつ We had a new driver join the team.テつ We had an incident at Texas early in the season that I think set us back for a while.
We got to the season, I think things stabilized, by the time the Chase rolled around last year, and in this past off‑season we didn't have those kinds of distractions.テつ We had the opportunity to make everybody focus on how do we make the best cars possible, how does Joey mature as a person and as a driver, and one thing he can speak to it ‑‑ when he came on board with us, we told Joey, there's no No.1, there's no No.2, everybody is equal.テつ We all contribute.テつ We all have the same access to information, the same access to resources, and I think it's really demonstrated that in the performance of the team this year with six wins.
When we think about it, we might have even had one or two more along the way.テつ I think that's probably a fair assessment.テつ What do you guys think?
JOEY LOGANO:テつ I agree.テつ That was a good answer.

Q.テつ Kind of following up on that, you guys talk about the chemistry you guys have as an organization, not just the 22 team.テつ But when it comes down to it, you're going to have to battle Brad for the championship.テつ How do you approach that dynamic of working together as an organization but also‑‑ you're going to have to beat one another.テつ There can't be two champions in this deal.
JOEY LOGANO:テつ Well, I think, at least from a driver's standpoint, I think both Brad and myself understand that we need to work together to be able to run well, right.テつ We're a two‑car team out there.テつ We need to work very tight together to make it work.テつ And I think that's the same throughout all of Team Penske, you see that all the way through.
But we have to make sure, as a driver, it's our responsibility right now to make sure we race each other right, make sure we still share our information, because the moment we stop doing that and the moment we grow away from each other, the performance will go away.テつ I think we both understand that, that if we grow apart from each other, we're not going to be running first and second anymore, we're going to be racing for 15th and 16th, and we don't want that.
Brad says it all the time, and I say it, too, I'd much rather finish second to Brad than beat him and finish 14th.テつ That's the attitude we've got to keep throughout this whole thing.テつ Yeah, I see ourselves racing for a championship and I see that becoming tough, but I think we're aware of what we need to do to go fast every week, and we'll keep that throughout everybody.

Q.テつ Joey, what were you thinking when you crossed the checkered flag, your first win at Bristol, and what does having the Bristol trophy mean to you?
JOEY LOGANO:テつ You know, when you come across the line for a win like that and such a big win here at Bristol, probably the biggest win of my career, I'm kind of at a loss for words.テつ I just scream.テつ There's just so much raw emotion that comes out of nowhere.テつ The last 40 laps you're waiting for the caution, you're waiting for something, Brad is catching me, you're just so intense.テつ Man, to come across that line and get that checkered flag, I don't have words I can put that into.テつ It's just the raw emotion of winning one of these races is unreal because you work so hard, you dedicate your life to winning a Sprint Cup championship and winning races, and that's not just for the driver, that's for everybody.テつ I'm sure Todd must have the same emotions I would think.
Like I said, you put everything you've got into this, and when you succeed, it's awesome because you're not racing against Joe Blow out there, you're racing against the best race car drivers out there and the best race teams out there, and when you're able to beat them, you should be pretty proud of yourself.

Q.テつ Obviously the best season of your career.テつ It's not even close to being done yet.テつ Whatever your worst day was at Gibbs, whatever day that was, could you still envision a season like this, and when you came to Team Penske, what was your confidence like, and how soon after arriving did that improve?
JOEY LOGANO:テつ My worst days over there, I think about it, just like anybody, you'd be down in the dumps and you lose your confidence as a driver, and that's probably the worst thing that can happen is you lose your confidence.テつ Yeah, I was in that boat.テつ Thank goodness I had Nationwide races and we were kicking butt in Nationwide because that's really what I had to rely on is to go up there and win those things, and that would help me get through it.テつ There was times it was really, really hard.テつ To answer your question, no, I would never think that I'd have a year like this at that point, and that's why the mental side of this is just as important as the physical side.テつ You've got to have your head in the right spot.
But I'm happy I went through all that.テつ It's made me what I am now and has made me aware of how I have to mentally be to win these things.
Going through the tough times, you never appreciate the good times, and obviously there's a lot of good times over there, don't get me wrong, and obviously the last year over there I was able to win a race and all that, that was good for me.テつ That was probably the big moment that was able to get me this ride.
Who would ever think that‑‑ I felt like when I came over here at Team Penske, I don't know what my goals were.テつ I think I was just kind of like, hey, pick it up a notch in every single area, whether that's on or off the racetrack.テつ You get to walk in there as a new person, be who you want to be.テつ For me it was kind of that moment I grew up and took the bull by the horns and was able to be very fortunate to team up with the right people to help me grow and be sitting here today.
To answer your question, no, I never thought I would be.テつ But as you start building that confidence up slowly, you start thinking, yeah, I can win everything.テつ As a driver, you have to have that confidence in yourself to race well.

Q.テつ Joey, how did last year at this point leading into the Chase, what did you learn about preparing for the Chase, last year's Chase experience, that helps you better prepare for this period getting ready for the Chase and for what you've got to go through in the Chase?テつ How did last year's experience‑‑ obviously we get better with age, we get better with experience; how has it helped you get ready for the Chase and then get ready to make that next step up?テつ Obviously you had a good bit of success last year but obviously to win it you've got to take another step.テつ And Todd, what have you seen out of how he's approached things maybe a little bit differently this time around?
TODD GORDON:テつ I would say that you've got to experience it first to understand how to prepare for it, and that was probably the thing that I would take from last year is at this point last year we weren't locked in.テつ We had a win, but we were still right at that verge of points and didn't know where we would be and racing people for those wild card points, whether we'd be in on points, whether we'd be in on a win, all of that.テつ There was still a lot of stress at this point to just trying to get in.
And this race, we overcame a lot, came back from having to pit with 40 or 50 to go with debris on the nose and Joey drove his ‑ ‑ ‑ off, and we drove back to fifth, and it was a good thing for us.テつ But we had to focus on Atlanta, we had to focus on Richmond and what we could do to make sure we were in it.テつ We weren't as prepared how to go forward because we didn't know what to expect.
I think the bigger picture now is we've seen it, we know we're in, and we started conversations when we won Texas of, okay, how do we best prepare for the 10‑race grind and the new format, and I think the new format brings a whole new picture to what you've got to do and how you need to race each segment to be successful and trying to break that down.
We've got a good plan going forward of how Team Penske is going to test for this Chase, and those plans are already laid in stone going forward, and we're just trying to execute them.
Last year let us know what we needed to do, and then the success early in the season kind of let us let the stress level come down and say, okay, what do we got to do going forward.テつ It's really changed how we're going to race the next two races, as well.テつ You know, you want to be successful as much as you can, but you also want to make sure that you keep your head on the big picture.テつ You've got to keep momentum on the race team because there's a lot of that right now, momentum going forward.テつ But we still need to make sure we maximize our opportunity at every racetrack in the Chase.

Q.テつ Joey, what's so different in the Chase?テつ Obviously it's all about winning races every week.テつ That's not changed.テつ What's so different about the Chase that you've got to be good, that last year's experience helps you?
JOEY LOGANO:テつ I think just to see how much everyone just picks it up a notch.テつ We talk about that a lot, and I talk about that a lot.テつ But everyone just goes harder.テつ Right now I feel like I'm going as hard as I possibly can.テつ It's like, I've got nothing else left in the tank.テつ But when the championship is on the line, there's some more left in there, and it's my job to find what's left inside of me when it comes two weeks down the road here when we get to Chicago.テつ That's the moment I've got to find where is there a little bit left, where can I become a little bit better, and that's my part.テつ But the team needs to do the same thing.テつ Everyone needs to do the same thing to be able to race these guys.
We think we're running all out right now, but there's always something left.テつ There's always something more that you've got left in the tank, and we've just got to find it and do it.

Q.テつ Were you surprised how much you were able to step it up in the Chase last year?
JOEY LOGANO:テつ We were fast.テつ We were able to step it up a little bit.テつ Maybe not as much as we would like.テつ We battled some adversity throughout the Chase, but for the most part we ran pretty good.テつ I feel a lot better about our chances this year, though, already.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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