February 6, 2022
Los Angeles, California, USA
An Interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Now joined by the crew chief for the No. 22, Paul Wolfe.
Q. This was a unique event. You had one shot to make an adjustment or do something to the car. What was it, if anything?
PAUL WOLFE: Well, as we talk about the weekend in general, we had those three eight-minute sessions yesterday. First time we've ever been on a racetrack this small. You talk about a new car on top of that.
We were learning pretty quick, and we weren't exactly where we needed to be yesterday. A lot of teamwork, talking through things amongst our teammates. We were able to put something together really good today that fortunately we didn't adjust on it much. I did a small air pressure adjustment at the halfway break, but that was all we did. That was from our heat race and all.
We were obviously pretty pleased with how the car was in the heat race, to be able to win that. Joey just wanted to leave it alone to start the main event today. Today was pretty uneventful, went fairly smooth for us. That was not the case yesterday.
Q. What, if anything, surprised you this weekend working on the race car? Some teams had some mechanical issues. Did anything catch you off guard?
PAUL WOLFE: I'll first start by saying how the racing turned out. Let's just talk about that first, right?
As guys were working on the race cars, obviously we knew this was going to be a great event, and it was, there was a lot of hype around it. It's like, What is the actual product going to be, the competition on the racetrack, how are the cars going to race? Were guys that had better cars going to be able to move forward, or was it going to be follow the leader?
Probably a little biased at the moment, but was pleased with the actual on-track competition. I feel like our car was really good on the long run, and that showed. We were able to move forward.
There was a little contact obviously, guys would give you the bumper to let you know they were faster. But I thought the racing product was great.
As far as the car itself, I think the biggest thing with this small of a racetrack, I think you saw a lot of guys were having issues with the temperatures, the engine, because we don't get a lot of air movement. We're still trying to obviously understand how this car is going to work with the temperature piece of it.
We'll be a little smarter and better next time we do an event like this. That was a little bit of a concern for us. Then I think just evaluating some of the guys that had issues during the race, trying to understand what they were. I think we're still early on with this car obviously. We're going to continue to learn, hopefully evolve and make it better as we go on.
Overall I think it was a pretty successful weekend for the sport in general.
Q. You mentioned a lot of guys were getting into each other. We didn't see a bunch of cut tires, guys spinning out. What is it about the steering, setup, build of this car that made it so sturdy and raceable throughout the event?
JOEY LOGANO: I think the body, the composite body, is a good part of not cutting the tires down potentially. We've seen that a lot in the past. As you look at kind of the Xfinity Series with a similar body, it's shown to be able to take a little more beating there. I think that's a big part of why we didn't see that.
As far as the guys spinning out and that, that's kind of hard to say. The speeds are so slow I feel like at a track like this that you can have a little more contact probably and the car still has grip or can stay under control. We'll have to see how that evolves as we get to some of these other racetracks and stuff. I think speed was part of that today.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by today's Busch Light Clash winner, Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22.
We'll continue with questions.
Q. Before even getting to today, trying to work on the car, could you feel the vibe, the tone and the atmosphere the past couple days?
PAUL WOLFE: Yeah, absolutely. I think anytime you come to a new venue like this, something we've never done before, there's a lot of pressure to try to figure it out, right? Like I spoke earlier, we take a lot of pride in trying to be the team to figure it out first, all the opportunity that's out there this year.
I definitely felt it in the way our practice went yesterday. When you're off, getting going, you feel the pressure more in trying to figure it out and trying to get where you need to be.
Gives us a lot of confidence moving forward, though, that we have a strong team that was able to do that and put a car on the racetrack today that obviously was very fast and capable of winning.
JOEY LOGANO: I mean, obviously the hype around this, you watch football games lately, they're advertising the Clash as much as they're advertising Daytona 500. To me that kind of puts it into perspective a little bit on what this event meant to our sport, how big of a gamble this really was, right? This could have gone awful. It went great out there, right?
To answer your question, you can kind of see the buildup throughout the weekend a little bit. Under the lights last night was something pretty cool, rolling out to the heat race, seeing the stands starting to fill up. You start to realize this is going to be a big event.
I had the opportunity to sit in the grandstands and watch the last chance races. To hear everybody yelling and screaming over the race cars, these race cars are loud, you hear everybody screaming anytime something big was happening on the racetrack, how intense it was, the unknown, not knowing what's going to happen.
The race itself, the main event, had some longer runs, short runs, very intense moments throughout. I thought that really showed that we can put a race on in a stadium like this, it being the L.A. Coliseum, one of the most historical locations we can possibly go to, this makes it pretty special to say we've been able to come here and race, but even better to win in this stadium. Not many people can say they did it. I don't think anyone can say they did it in a race car before. It's a pretty special one for us.
Q. Given how tense the testing of the Next Gen car had been over the last two months, Steve O'Donnell said you had fun, everyone had fun, it was important to start this era on the right foot. How important is it for you as drivers and crew members to have a lot of fun?
JOEY LOGANO: I say we have fun when we win, so we had fun (laughter). I'm pretty certain not everyone had fun today. As competitors, we all want to have the trophy.
This Next Gen car is the busiest off-season I can ever remember having, whether we're testing or not. Just so many variables, so many unknowns as you try to build a car and be ready for the weekend.
You look back, like you said, the meeting in Nashville, I wouldn't say we were all having fun at that point, there were a lot of concerns. There still is concerns, don't get me wrong. There's a lot of what ifs in front of us. We've proven we can get through this. I'm certain the Daytona 500 is going to go well at the same time.
This is going to be a big move for our sport. Honestly I think the biggest win we saw today, with the car itself, is that we can bump and bang and not cut tires down. Very little cut tires down.
For as much cars were on each other's doors, think about when we used to do that at Martinsville, give each other a fender rip immediately. Next thing you know your car is spinning out, you have flat tires.
There was a lot of bumping and banging, and it was okay. That says a lot about the body on the car, but also the tire and wheel package that we were able to have really, honestly, full contact without being nervous about cutting tires down.
Q. You said earlier this week you were excited to come out on the West Coast, different culture, people, atmosphere. Did it feel different? Outside of winning, did it live up to your excitement?
JOEY LOGANO: It's definitely different. I forgot the number, but how many fans came here today that were first-time NASCAR fans.
THE MODERATOR: 70%.
JOEY LOGANO: 70? That's incredible. That's nuts. To know that only happened because we came to them, right? We were racing in the city. We've never been able to do that. Typically you got to go 30 minutes, an hour or so out of downtown to put a race on because we need such a huge area.
Today proved that, hey, we can race anywhere. That says a lot about our sport. That's the biggest win today for the future of our sport. It's so big.
Proud to say we were able to do that. A lot of hard work from everybody. The fans out west are really cool. Being able to see that. I was able to go out to the Ford stage earlier, talk to the fans there, driver intros, everyone yelling and screaming, chanting "USA" after the national anthem. That stuff makes me happy.
Q. Joey, you're here, so that means there's no baby yet. You didn't put her into labor, right?
JOEY LOGANO: I told my buddy Coleman, or spotter Coleman, whatever you want to call him, I said, If we win this thing, you say Brittany is having a baby, I'm running off the racetrack, straight to the airport. No media for me, I'm out (laughter).
No, baby is still there. Tomorrow is the big day. What a crazy couple days for the Logano family, getting a win and then obviously sleeping in a hospital tomorrow night (smiling).
Q. You are in the record books, winning the first-ever NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum. What does that mean to Joey Logano?
JOEY LOGANO: Like I said, of all the Clashes, this is probably the biggest Clash win you can imagine. First time coming to this historic venue, like I said, being able to do that together as a team.
Also some of the adversity we fought through, what Paul was saying earlier. We were 26th on the board. That was me trying really hard to go as fast as I could go. To see everybody come together, not just the 22 team, but Team Penske in general, to be able to all lean on each other, what we learned in practice, ultimately put together a really good package to where it qualified well, we were able to win our heat race, keep track position, be good on the long run, which was a bit surprising to me. I don't know about you, Paul. For me I thought it would be better on the short haul. Find our strengths, be able to play to them, win it.
Really cool. Last couple wins have been on some weird racetracks, so I don't know. Bring 'em on. Bring on the more weird stuff.
Q. What is it like as a driver knowing maybe a bump is coming? Are you mirror driving, looking out the front, not worrying about that?
JOEY LOGANO: It's camera driving now. Got the rearview cameras now.
You know it's coming. You're coming down to the end of a race on a short track, doesn't matter who it is, they're going to lay a bumper to you.
Here it's probably the only way to pass. Without laying the bumper, kind of tough to make passes. I did it to Kyle to get around him. You know it's coming back, it's only fair.
Assumed that was coming at some point, so was able to stretch it out enough. The last 30 laps there, I was able to get a decent lead. His car really turned on. They made some good adjustments in between the halfway break there. He really turned it on and closed the gap.
Then the last five or six laps, was able to get far enough ahead where everything was good. I was looking at those lap cars in front of me, oh, no. Just going to stack 'em right to me, then we're going to be in trouble. Was able to get out there kind of as much as I could.
Q. Winning is always awesome. Is it any more fun when you beat Kyle Busch?
JOEY LOGANO: I just want to win. I don't care who I beat. Doesn't matter.
Q. Austin Dillon said maybe part of the attitude from all the drivers somewhat enjoying this was the non-points race situation. He said he'd be up for trading some points races for more exhibitions. Could you see a scenario where you would be willing to trade points races on the schedule for exhibitions?
JOEY LOGANO: It's an interesting idea. Yeah, I haven't really thought about it. It's not a bad idea. You look at the All-Star Race, the Clash. There's a little less pressure because what a loss actually means is less, right? We talked about it before. It's all or nothing, right? Who cares about finishing second? It's go for the win or go home.
Points events, I mean, think about some of the stuff that was going on in the last chance races, what was going on there. If that's for points, I think that probably has some different effects and races will probably be quite a bit different.
I think everyone was a little bit more relaxed considering it's a non-points race. I think what we got's pretty good. I don't know. I don't know. I think what we've got is all right.
The points racing is intense as well, right? Think about what it means to try to make the Playoffs, then the Playoff system we have. Geez, can you ask for anything more? I don't think we can make it any more -- bring the intensity any higher or put more pressure on the race teams, me or Paul or pit crew. It's do or die a lot out there.
I think we have a good mix.
Q. What kind of things did you learn from all of this? The consensus coming in was that we weren't really going to learn anything from this race that we could apply to any other race on the circuit. Sort of had a Martinsville feel to it, at least visually. Did you get that sense in the car? Are there things from this weekend you can apply going forward?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I mean, there's things we can definitely make better on our race car. We talked about it even some before the race. There's some things that we could probably make better.
It's such a unique track, it's hard to say. I think anytime we're on the racetrack with this car we're learning at this point. Such a new car for all of us. It's underdeveloped at the moment as we're figuring things out pretty quickly.
It's the same for everyone. Maybe some of the stuff can go towards Martinsville. This place is brand-new, right, brand-new asphalt out there. Martinsville is not that. You definitely have some different variables you will have at Martinsville that you don't have here.
THE MODERATOR: Paul, Joey, thanks so much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports