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February 23, 2020
Las Vegas, Nevada
THE MODERATOR: We're going to roll into our postÃ¢â‚¬â€˜race for today's NASCAR Cup Series race, the Pennzoil 400. We're joined by Joey Logano, driver of the No.22 Pennzoil Ford, and his crew chief, Paul Wolfe.
Q. This could go for either of you, but was it ultimately a miscommunication on the radio that may have led to you winning this race?
JOEY LOGANO: I don't think so. We talked about this scenario, whether it's at the end of a stage or end of the race, if it comes down to it, can we get clean air, or at what point are we comfortable staying out.
You know, so Paul came over the radio and said, stick to the plan. I said, okay, I'll stick to the plan. That was it. You know, ultimately it was a good call, obviously, and got us in position to have a good restart. I had a good push with Ricky behind me and had a good block on the 24 once I got the push.
At that point, once you get that clean air, you're in good shape. If I didn't have a good restart and got swallowed up by the field, I'd have had the backup lights on pretty quick. But the call and then the execution to go together is what we needed to do.
Q. Paul, on Friday Joe was talking about how he's just letting you do your thing, being the new crew chief for him. How much easier does that make your job knowing that he has the confidence to let you just do your thing right now?
PAUL WOLFE: I don't know if it makes it any easier. It's pretty hard at this level to win races. Put a lot of pressure on myself. Obviously it's good to have the confidence in the driver. He believes in his team and what we can do.
Obviously we've both been successful prior to this year, and we have certain things that's helped us get to where we're at, things that have worked for us in the past, so kind of like call it your comfort zone, if you will, but what we've really tried to do in the offÃ¢â‚¬â€˜season is communicate a lot and try to understand kind of the strengths and weaknesses of each of our programs in the past maybe, and just try to mesh it all together and just make ourselves stronger and win more races than we have with our teams prior.
Obviously it's early. This was kind of the first test. I mean, obviously Speedweeks is kind of its own deal. We had good cars, and I thought it all went fairly smooth. Obviously we didn't get the results we were hoping for, but I knew coming out on the West Coast Swing was really going to be where we were going to learn and try to understand what we need to do.
I thought practice went well on Friday. I wasn't quite as pleased obviously with how the car was in the race. I thought we'd be a little stronger. We fought through it all day. Obviously Joey did a good job keeping us up front, keeping our track position, and obviously in these races that's what it comes down to.
If you keep yourself in the top 5, you've put yourself in position, depending upon what happens, how it plays out. I've lost plenty of them being the best car. It just kind of all goes full circle. He drove a great race, and we kind of had a plan, like he said, coming into the race.
Like him, I try to communicate with him thoughts and get his ideas, and kind of have a plan, sometimes you have to change and adapt, but he stuck to what we had talked about, and obviously it paid off.
Q. Paul, what led to the decision to keep him on the racetrack because clearly Blaney is in the lead and you're either going to follow the leader or you're going to do your own thing and put yourself in position to win.
PAUL WOLFE: It's really about the clean air. If you can get clean air, it's worth so much. The tires obviously were wearing some. Obviously that's why we saw a lot of guys pit, obviously, from the lead. It seemed like it wasÃ¢â‚¬â€˜Ã¢â‚¬â€˜ the left side wear was more accelerated than what we've seen in the past, and I think that was making guys favor wanting tires.
But really still the falloff, if you look at the start of our run to the end, it wasn't extreme, and weÃ¢â‚¬â€˜Ã¢â‚¬â€˜ in practice we were out there on older tires. When they have a chance to cool down, seemed to reÃ¢â‚¬â€˜fire and have decent speed.
It's kind of what we had talked about. If you can get to the front row and get that clean air, then it's worth the gamble.
Obviously we had a lot of cars behind us. At that point I felt pretty good as long as he executed the restart, the guys on tires weren't going to catch you in two laps. Just not enough time.
Q. Joey, when did you realize the chaos was breaking out behind you? At what point did you kind of knowÃ¢â‚¬â€˜Ã¢â‚¬â€˜
JOEY LOGANO: On the last restart?
Q. Yeah, when did you know it was smooth sailing for you to the finish?
JOEY LOGANO: I actually never really knew it was smooth sailing. Obviously as a race car driver and you're in the lead, you're in the mirror more than you're looking forward. You know, and obviously the most intense moments were getting through the gears and trying to clear each lane, trying to gain control of the race that way, which we were able to do through Turn 1.
I saw Matt make a great move to go three wide bottom, which got him to second, which was good, but it's also even better for me, because it built some distance between the second rows as they were three wide back there just dragging each other down. I was able to set sail a little bit and get a little bit of distance.
You know, I'd say probably taking the white, because that's probablyÃ¢â‚¬â€˜Ã¢â‚¬â€˜ you know if they crashed at that point, as long as you take the white, you're good, and with the lead we had taking the white, I felt like no matter what run they can build through 1 and 2, it's not going to be enough to make a move in 3 and 4.
I felt confident at that point that we were in good shape to have a solid finish and win this thing, and then the caution came out anyway. I don't think it would have changed the outcome of at least winning, but obviously I don't know whatÃ¢â‚¬â€˜Ã¢â‚¬â€˜ I haven't seen replays, but you look in the mirror, and it looks like they're six wide back there, especially coming through this front triÃ¢â‚¬â€˜oval or dogleg, whatever you guys call it these days, how wide it is. It just looks like there's cars everywhere back there. It's just nuts.
Q. Joey, did you notice any difference in the Chevrolets with their new body and how they ran?
JOEY LOGANO: Well, they ran pretty good. You know, Paul and I were talking before the race after practice that it didn't really feel like there was a dominant car. The 9 was good, the 4 was good, the 12 was good, the 19 was good. But no one was ever like the dominant car that's going to go out there and just lead a ton of laps. There was different points of the runs where other cars were better back and forth.
You know, so I felt like we were in the hunt, and as long as we were in the hunt, we can try to fabricate something and get there, which is what ended up happening.
But yeah, the 9 was good, 24 was good, 48 was decent, as well. 88 was good and almost won the thing there towards the end of the race, as well.
I would say the Hendrick cars were fast today. 42 was decent, but it seemed like the Hendrick cars were a little bit ahead from that standpoint.
Q. All the Penske cars before the last caution were running I want to say either top 5 or top 10, so can you say that the crew chief changes all worked and was the right move, or how long does it take to kind of evaluation all those changes?
JOEY LOGANO: I think one race as a sample size is kind of tough. But this has been I think for Team Penske our best racetrack here in recent years. So not a surprise to see all those cars up front. You think about Blaney has led a ton of laps and has been close to winning for some time, I've won before with the team I had, and I've seen Brad win with Paul here before, as well.
So it's just been a good racetrack for Team Penske. Everyone running fast, again, not much of a surprise to me, but yeah, I mean, I think we made the move because we think there's a lot to gain from it. That's the reason why you do it. As Team Penske as a whole, not just one particular car.
You know, and I think time will tell, but it's a good start.
Q. You mentioned Blaney. I'm sure you don'tÃ¢â‚¬â€˜Ã¢â‚¬â€˜ you're happy that you won, but it would have been a really emotional win I think if he had won. What do you think today and running up front and leading laps will do at all for his psyche after last week?
JOEY LOGANO: I've talked with him. He seems to be okay. You know, I think Ryan Newman walking out of the hospital is obviously the best thing that could have been for both Ryans at that point.
You know, so like I said before, Blaney didn't do anything wrong last week. He was trying to win the race, and a bump ended up sending Ryan for a hell ride. So justÃ¢â‚¬â€˜Ã¢â‚¬â€˜ that's why I walked to Ryan last week. I said, it's not anything he can do, it's just a position that our sport puts us in sometimes, and everyone is racing for the biggest race of the year. I think everyone would get that and understand that.
You know, so I thinkÃ¢â‚¬â€˜Ã¢â‚¬â€˜ obviously that's a hard spot, and no matter what, however you look at it, it's a hard spot to be put in, thinking that way, and you're going to relive it in your mind over and over again no matter who you are and how mentally strong you think you are. You can't help but think about the wellÃ¢â‚¬â€˜being of somebody, especially if you're involved in it one way or another.
So I think the fact that Newman walked out of the hospital with his kids on each side, if that doesn't put a smile on the whole garage's face, nothing does.
Q. You were talking to Bob about the cars that you thought would be good, and Truex was the only Toyota you mentioned. Personally I was surprised to not see them, any of them, finish in the top 10 today, but it doesn't sound like they were really good the whole weekend. Were you surprised that typically at a track they're okay at that they weren't as strong?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, a little bit. You know, I'll say that in practice, it kind of looked like they weren't as quick as we would expect. But we also kind of thought the 19 was pretty good in practice, too. I would say it's no surprise from practice to the race on where things are at.
There's still so many decisions we have to make when you come to these racetracks, whether you want speed or handling or something in the middle, and it's pretty obvious the direction that teams choose and what works and what doesn't. It's crazy to watch it. The craziest part to me is they all run good, just different points of the run.
Q. Last year the Team Penske was oneÃ¢â‚¬â€˜two. You've won two in a row here now yourself. What from last year did you learn to help you prepare for this weekend?
JOEY LOGANO: Well, you learn something new every time you hit the racetrack. I can't tell you what I learned. That would be not smart. There's a lot of people listening to this right now.
But you know, I study this stuff as much as I can, trying to understand runs and what I need in the car and what the racetrack is going to do, how the rubber is going to affect the track. You know, all this stuff.
And as a race car driver, that's my job. So I'm going to take as much info as I can from my own experiences and try to learn from other people's mistakes, as well, and also the things they did well, and try to apply that.
There was a few moves that I was able to do today that was new for me, but that worked, because I learned from others, so you know, ultimately you just got to be a student of the sport, never stop learning. There's always somebody trying to push you and get ahead of you.
I was able to try some new things, and it worked out today.
Q. How much is Paul pushing you now?
JOEY LOGANO: How much does Paul push me?
JOEY LOGANO: I think we did a pretty good job of pushing each other so far. What I love about Paul is he's very competitive. So am I. He wants to win really bad, and I can see his frustration if we don't win. You know, you hear him up here a minute ago, we won the race, and that's great, but we're also looking at areas of our car where it was weak. There was obviously plenty of strength to our car, and that's why we won the race.
But there's always a weakness that we can make better, and I know that's on the forefront of both of our minds. When we get on the airplane home tonight, that's what we're going to be talking about. We're not going to be talking much about the win. Maybe some, and obviously we should enjoy it, it's important, but it's equally as important right now to figure out how we can be stronger early in the season right now.
Q. Last year you tied Terry Labonte on the allÃ¢â‚¬â€˜time wins list. 21 here. Now this year you passed Ricky Rudd on the allÃ¢â‚¬â€˜time wins list with your win today. Just your thoughts on passing another driver and being 35th?
JOEY LOGANO: I didn't know that. That's cool. How are you not a fan of Ricky Rudd? I was a fan of him growing up. Met him a few times, which is cool. But he's a hardÃ¢â‚¬â€˜nosed racer, is what he was, and really fun to watch.
You know, honored to say that I can be somewhere close to him. I've always looked to him as a great racer, and Hall of Famer in the future at some point I'm sure. Proud to say that I grabbed some wins, and honored to do that.
To me, that stuff is really cool to me because I'm a race fan at heart, and I remember as a kid watching those guys race, never thinking that you'd get more wins than one of those guys some day or even be able to compete with some of them on the same racetrack. When you think of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart, those guys that raced for a long time that I got to race against. That's super cool because I watched them as a kid.
So as a fan, that's the neatest thing in the world.
Q. Joey, longÃ¢â‚¬â€˜term question: There's talk out there about a 10Ã¢â‚¬â€˜year plan of NASCAR November. Charlotte for the Hall of Fame, here, because it's obviously the gambling capital, and congratulations, you were 5 to 1 to win this race, and the final race, a week Championship Series in Daytona with the cool part being that the championship, the Cup winner gets to be the pole sitter for the race in February Daytona 500. Your thoughts about that in the longÃ¢â‚¬â€˜term?
JOEY LOGANO: Whoa, that's all news to me. Whoa. Has anyone else heard this rumor before? Is that news to everybody? Whoa, I believe some of that might be a conspiracy theory. I'm not buying all of that. There's some of that that I don't know if I would be all in for.
You know, I think obviously when you think of next gen coming up with the cars, I obviously can't think of what happens 10 years down the road from now, but I think next year there's going to be a lot of change in our sport, whether what happens to the schedule, I don't know. I'm going to race when they tell me to race because I love racing in this series and racing stock cars and racing against the best in the world. I love that part of it.
I don't care where we race, I just want to drive, and I enjoy that part of it.
Like I said, a lot of gains with this nextÃ¢â‚¬â€˜gen car coming up next season. As someone that's driven it over the offÃ¢â‚¬â€˜season in Phoenix, was impressed with it. Obviously a lot of work to do to it still, but I think overall it's going to be great for the sport, for all included. I think the racing is going to be better. I think it's going to be better for the race teams, and I think the fans are going to make out great about it, too.
Q. Looking at Fontana, you've had five finishes of seventh or better including four straight top 5s. How do you think this car is going to react there? It was so racy today, I know that's a different track, but if it's anything like it was today, it's going to be crazy.
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, that's exactly what you're going to have. Auto Club Speedway has been a great racetrack for me in the past. Yet to get a win; that's the part that stinks. There's a big goose egg in the win column over there. Got to try to get the other side of that.
But yeah, Vegas, Fontana, Kansas, Chicago, the tracks that are wide are perfect for this 550 rules package. Really puts on good racing because when you get to the corner, there's room to get away from the car in front of you, to get clean air, and then you have these long straightaways where the draft really can kick in, and you can carry the momentum and make moves into the corners.
Yeah, you're going to have some cars on the bottom, you're going to have later in the run cars right up next to the wall, Kyle Larson, so there will be a few of those back and forth, and being able to move around will be key.
But great racetrack. Got bumps, you got tire wear, you have huge straightaways, and you can move wherever you want. It's a great track.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports