Joey Logano’s remarks about the negativity focused on NASCAR’s new rules package in his post-race press conference in Las Vegas last weekend stem from the fact he simply doesn’t have much patience for negative people. Or for those who take to social media and rant about something they don’t completely understand. But he also seems puzzled by what the critics are seeing, or not seeing, that they don’t like.
“For me, I want to look at the facts,” Logano told RACER while promoting Panini America’s newest NASCAR trading card product Donruss Racing. “I want to look at, was it a good race in my opinion or by the stats? How many passes were there? How many lead changes were there? Was the racing close? It being a couple days later now and you see the stats of how many green flag passes, how many lead changes there was, and then running 100 green flag laps at the end and it finishing on the last lap and no one knew who was going to win until we came off Turn 4. That’s a pretty good race in my opinion.”
Logano admits he likely comes off as biased because he did win last Sunday, but urges the critics to look at the race objectively.
“I thought when I was out there racing there was a lot of side-by-side; it was very intense,” Logano said. “My heart rate was going as high as it has ever been, and it’s because there’s so many other things you have to think about now because the cars are closer.
“As a race fan re-watching the race when I got home that night, I thought that, ‘Man, this is some pretty intense stuff.’ I saw three-, four-wide, bumping, banging, very aggressive moves on the racetrack. How do people not love that? So, I don’t understand (because) it’s really good.”
Logano explained what he meant by a driver having many more things to think about now. Previously, a driver could get into a rhythm about five laps after a restart when the field would start to get spread out. Now it takes a little longer before that happens.
“That restart moment and intensity (takes) about 15 laps before you fall into a rhythm and start moving around and finding things,” said Logano. “The cars are so close and forming runs and going different places you have to really be strategic on what lane you pick when you get to the corner and one, hold the car off behind you, but also use that car to help you pass the car in front of you. You’re thinking with more of a superspeedway mentality a lot of times mixed in with the typical mile-and-a-half stuff we’ve done on restarts. So mentally, it’s really strenuous.
“And the cars — by themselves they’re easy to drive, but when you put them in traffic, they’re unpredictable, and they are not easy to drive in any way. You see these big moments were cars get loose and you have these really aggressive moves where cars are making aggressive clearings off the corner. It’s not easier, it’s not harder, it’s just different, and we have to understand it’s going to be different, and I think that’s OK.”
Logano and crew chief Todd Gordon have been open-minded about the package. Coming into the season looking to defending their Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship, both felt the package would suit Logano’s style because of the aggressiveness expected to come with it. Logano admitted two weeks in, Atlanta and Las Vegas, things have been played a little as he and Gordon expected.
Friday’s have been the weak point for his No. 22 team. Sunday’s have been much better. Logano was in contention for the win in the season-opening Daytona 500 and was running well before a loose wheel caused an unscheduled pit stop in Atlanta. Logano and company then rebounded for the Vegas victory.
Because of the rules package being a big variable this season, it’s hard for Logano to forecast any future success for his team. He’s undoubtedly confident with what they have right now, though.
“So far speed-wise we’re close to an A,” Logano rated his team. “I don’t know if we’re quite the fastest car and being that dominant yet, the 18 [Kyle Busch] looked really good in Vegas, and you could make an argument for three or four cars being good there, so I’d say we’re in the hunt. I don’t know if there’s an A+ car right now, but we’re an A on speed. On execution, it depends on the race. Daytona went really well as far as execution, Atlanta went awful and then Vegas went well. So, it kind of depends on the week right now.
“But the performance is there — the speed’s in the car, we’ve proven we can win already, but it’s so early with the new rules package that when we get to Vegas the next time it’s going to be so different. Our setups won’t even be close to what we just raced.”
In the meantime, Logano’s immediate goals are clear: “Capitalize on the speed while you got it, and stay open-minded to finding new things because your competitors are going to be making big gains at a quick rate right now.”