Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang, was the fastest Ford in today’s only NASCAR Cup Series practice at Circuit of the Americas. Logano participated in a post-practice media call to talk about track conditions.
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang — IS THERE ANY WAY TO PREPARE FOR SOMETHING LIKE THIS WITH ALL THE RAIN? “I haven’t really ran many wet races in my career. I didn’t have much road racing background either, so it’s just kind of studying different races, watching rain races from here, whether it’s one of those Porsche-Lamborghini 40 car things and trying to learn from what we did in Daytona and the Roval and trying to figure it out from that. I don’t know. Go kart experience from up in Mooresville (laughing). I don’t know. Outside of that, that’s what you’ve got. It was a lot of fun out there. I had a blast. I was having a great time trying to find lap time, trying to push yourself. The whole thing is a head game. It’s a mental strain out there of how hard you can push, how hard can you drive in the corner and being able to see behind cars. That’s probably the hardest part is visually down that long straightaway between 11 and 12. The spray off the back of a car you can’t see. You just straight-up can’t see and you’re going really really fast and the car is hydroplaning through that section. I think it’s newer asphalt there or something. The water sits on top more and the cars just jumping out of nowhere on you. The first time is scares you and then really the third and fourth time it still scares you, but you kind of catch yourself really quickly. It’s entertaining, believe me. I could have stayed out there making laps all day. I was having a good time.”
ARE YOU OK IF IT’S LIKE THIS TOMORROW AND IT’S A POINTS RACE WITH 40 CARS ON THE TRACK AND YOU CAN’T SEE? “It’s racing. You watch an F1 race or sports car race in the rain and those guys can’t see either and somehow they do it, so we’ll figure it out. It’s sketchy, for sure. It feels very uncomfortable, but I think as you do it, maybe just because it’s new we’ll get a hold of it a little better. It’s not bad through the esses. Ninety percent of the racetrack is not bad, it just gets really bad in the faster sections of the track, which is that long straightaway, front straightaway and then a little bit through the carousel. I don’t know what numbers they call those, I guess it’s 18, 17, 16 maybe, so those are the ones that are the most challenging to see for sure.”
WHAT DO THE ELEMENTS MEAN AS FAR AS ADDITIONAL CHALLENGES OF SETTING UP THE CAR? “It’s definitely a challenge. I don’t think we know what to do. Paul and I were just talking about it. We’re like, ‘What’s the weather gonna be?’ I don’t know. It could rain and it may not rain. It may rain for a little bit and dry up. I don’t know. There are definitely things you can change in the car to make it better in the weather either way and that’s gonna be part of the game here, I think — which way do you want to go. It’s really hard to be a crew chief or driver in these situations where you have to be a weatherman to some extent. I don’t know if you guys realize it, but most of the time the weatherman is wrong, so I don’t know how to do this correctly, but that’s what it is. We’re all in the same boat. We all have the same challenge ahead of us, so it’s just how we all handle it.”
HAVE YOU GOTTEN ANY SENSE OF THE VIBE AROUND TOWN? “Yeah, it’s really cool. My wife and I came down Thursday and had a date weekend for the first time, I think, since we had kids. We had a little bit of fun Thursday night and Friday. We jumped on those scooters and drove around town for a while and explored Austin, which was fun. There’s a lot of really cool areas. You kind of just drive around and kind of run into some things. It’s a really fun area for sure. The racetrack is beautiful. You guys can see just walking around here in the media center it’s like, ‘Whoa.’ It’s next level. The garage area is incredibly nice. The thing is built out of stone, can you imagine what that thing cost to build? So, it’s just an incredible facility. The racetrack is fun as well. I’m interested to see how it’s gonna race. There are definitely passing zones and also some areas where it’s just gonna get tight getting through some spots, but there’s a little bit of everything here. They’ve got high-speed zones, heavy braking zones and they’ve got the slow tricky areas where you’ve got to be really careful with your car.”
WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE IT RAIN TOMORROW FOR CONSISTENCY SAKE SINCE IT RAINED DURING PRACTICE TODAY? “It’s the same for everyone. If it dries up and we’re all trying to figure out how hard to drive when it’s dry, it’ll be the same for everyone. I just had a blast a second ago, so I’m OK with it raining at this point. Before practice the unknown and the uncertainty that you’re thinking about as a race car driver saying, ‘I don’t know how hard to go in. I don’t know what to do. Am I gonna be awful at this? Am I gonna be decent? I don’t know. How is our car gonna be? Do we even know how to work on the car?’ I don’t think we’ve answered all of those questions yet, but we have at least a general idea to where I feel more confident if we line up and race at this point, so, whatever. Like I said, it’s the same for everybody.”
HOW STRESSFUL WAS IT TO DRIVE AROUND THERE IN THOSE CONDITIONS? “I think you have to approach it with kind of a fun attitude, where fortunately enough for us we have a win, we’re in the playoffs. You have to look at the challenge as something fun. Honestly, I put it in the same category as Bristol. Bristol Dirt Race we go in there and say, ‘Let’s just try to figure it out. We’ll have some fun figuring it out.’ We don’t know what the heck we’re doing and it’s a very slick racetrack just like Bristol was very very slick. Maybe that’s my wheelhouse and I don’t even know it, but I do see to enjoy the challenge of something different, whether it’s changing the grip level, throwing some dirt on it, raining, whatever — something different, for me, I’m able to adapt fairly quickly and enjoy it a lot trying to figure out the new challenge. Any time there’s a big change like that there’s so much low-hanging fruit. You can just make huge gains run after run, whether it’s in the car or yourself as a driver. You’re able to make gains where you can gain a second at a time. We’re past that on dry asphalt. We’re trying to find half-a-tenth, but in these conditions it’s kind of a new game and there’s a lot of easy finds that can pick you up a second.”
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