Joey Logano Completes Ford Racing Sweep at Brisol Motor Speedway with Irwin Tools Night Race Win - USA Ford News - TalkFord.com

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Joey Logano Completes Ford Racing Sweep at Brisol Motor Speedway with Irwin Tools Night Race Win


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Posted 25 August 2014 - 07:16 AM

Ford Finishing Order:

1st – Joey Logano
2nd – Brad Keselowski
6th – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
7th – Carl Edwards
10th – Greg Biffle
18th – Michael McDowell
23rd – David Ragan
25th – David Gilliland
34th – Marcos Ambrose
41st – Aric Almirola

· Joey Logano’s win is his fourth with Ford Racing and sixth of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career.

· This marks the first time Ford Racing has swept a NASCAR Camping World Truck, NASCAR Nationwide, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend since 2006 when Mark Martin (NCWTS) and Matt Kenseth (NNS/NSCS) did it, ironically, at Bristol Motor Speedway.

· Ford Racing’s nine wins this season is the most for the manufacturer since 2008 (11).

· The win is Ford’s 627th all-time series victory and the 35th by Penske Racing with Ford.

· In addition, tonight’s win is the 35th for Ford Racing at BMS, which is tied for the most at any track currently on the circuit (Michigan).

JOEY LOGANO – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW – WHAT KIND OF MESSAGE DOES THIS SEND AS WE APPROACH THE CHASE? “That we can win the thing. What a Shell/Pennzoil Ford there. When I woke up this morning I wasn’t sure if we were a winning car or not, but Todd Gordon is good salesman. He pretty much sold me into thinking we had a winning car and we made some small adjustments on it all night and got our third win of the year. What a year we’re having. I’m having so much fun. The past six or seven races have been unbelievable. We’ve been running up front and it’s just been so much fun. I’ve got to thank Shell, obviously Ford, Sprint and everyone that helps out at Penske – Discount Tire, Hertz, Auto Trader. This is like one of the three biggest races of the year, I feel like – the Bristol Night race – and to have this in the record books with your name on it is really, really cool.” HOW IMPORTANT WAS PATIENCE TONIGHT? “Important and not important. On the restart there when we were sixth with tires I said, ‘I’ve got to capitalize right now.’ So I went as hard as I could, raced the 20 really hard and got everybody I could and then I was trying to keep up. The 20 was really fast and then there at the end I had something going wrong. I don’t know if it was the brakes or a hub failing in the rear, but it started vibrating really bad and getting really loose. I’m like, ‘Oh, come on. A couple more laps, a couple more laps.’ So of course there’s always added drama at the end that you don’t want, but patience didn’t come into play and then when I was racing the 24 there at the end it did come into play. We were able to make there at the end.”

RICKY STENHOUSE Jr. – No. 17 Fifth Third/EcoBoost Ford Fusion – “We started off not very good at all. Mike made a lot of changes. Our pit crew did an awesome job on pit road and gave me some fast pit stops, and Mike made a good call to take the wavearound to get back on the lead lap and then the caution came out quick and we were able to make our car a little bit better. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but definitely really pleased with how we finished with how the car drove, so we’ll get it better and we’ll keep working on it.” YOU NEEDED A RESULT LIKE THIS. “Yeah. Bristol is a lot of fun. When you’re able to turn your car all over the place, I was able to run in on the top, turn and drive across the bottom and make up a lot of ground and pass some cars. That felt really good to pass some cars. It was a great night. We needed it. We had a decent week at Michigan, so we’ll just keep trying to build on it.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – No. 43 STP Ford Fusion – “I’m OK, just disappointed. What an amazing race car these guys brought me – two of them – and to go out like that is certainly disappointing, but that’s racing at Bristol – you get caught up in other peoples’ wrecks.” WERE YOU MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO GETTING CAUGHT UP IN A WRECK BY BEING MID-PACK? “Yes and no. It’s still Bristol. We were catching a slower lapped car, I think it was the 7, and we were all starting to find our way to the bottom because the 7 was clogging up the top lane. The 55 started to cheat his way down there since I was already inside of him and the 42 got to his outside, I guess, and the 55 got together with him. It’s frustrating. It’s certainly not the way we wanted to end our day. I certainly didn’t want to wreck another race car. We’ve had a terrible six weeks since we won at Daytona. It seems like we’ve been kind of cursed or something, but we’ll get back on track. We’ve got to keep our heads up and look at the positives. We had some really fast race cars here at Bristol.” WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THE RACE PACKAGE AT THIS TRACK? “I thought it was typical Bristol from what we’ve had the last few years, so I didn’t think it was much different. I was surprised at how well we could pass. I know that other cars were having trouble passing, but, like I said, we drove from 42nd up into the top 20, so I thought we had a stellar race car and we were making a lot of passes compared to other people. I was happy with what we had and just disappointed in the finish.”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford Fusion -- "That wasn't a bad day for our No. 34 team. We started a little farther back than we should've, and that makes for a lot of work on a short track like this. But the guys made good adjustments that made our Dockside Logistics Ford pretty good at times and the pit crew did a good job. And when you leave Bristol without having to throw away a bunch of busted-up sheet metal, that's a good thing."

DAVID GILLILAND – No. 38 MDS Transport Ford Fusion – "That was a long 500 laps. Our MDS Ford was never quite what we wanted it to be, but we kept our eye on the big picture and it wound up being a good points day for us. I appreciate how hard the guys worked all weekend. I'm glad we got a little points boost to show for it."

MICHAEL MCDOWELL – No. 95 Thrivent Ford Fusion – “I feel like this is our first time putting together a full race. We had a really good car here in the spring and were about an 18th or 19th-place car here last time and lost my cool in the race and got into it and knocked the nose off of it and ruined the day. We worked all day today. We didn’t start our super-good, but were about a 25th-26th-place car and kept working on it. The guys did a great job. This is a good momentum builder. We had Thrivent Financial on the car this weekend so that’s cool for them and cool for us. I consider this our best run. We finished seventh at Daytona, but that’s a race where you can have opportunities to do that, but when you come to Bristol and run in the top 20. We were on the lead lap for a long time and the leaders are coming fast. It was hard in traffic to get around, but I’m very proud of my guys. It was a solid effort. With these new cars you hang it out the whole team. It’s definitely the hardest and most physical race I’ve done in a long time and I’m just so proud of everyone on this Leavine Family team. They do a great job.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 Hurst Ford Fusion – PRESS CONFERENCE – “That was a hard night. First off, the race pace here is really brutal and aggressive. With the cars having all the extra downforce this year and tires improving and some of the new rules compounded by grinding the track and the track’s high lane having a lot of speed, I swear this is the most grueling race of the year. So it feels good just to complete it and be able to kind of look myself in the eye and know I gave it all I had and it just wasn’t enough, but I didn’t fall out of the seat. I’m damn near as proud of not falling out of the seat as I am anything else, but it was a heckuva weekend for everyone at Team Penske. All three drivers winning races this weekend. I think that’s a testament to how bright the future is for Team Penske and I look for more big things to come and years to come, but certainly don’t want to lose sight of tonight’s accomplishments and accomplishments to date. I feel like Joey and I both have three wins. We’re entering the Chase strong in a lot of different ways, and I think we’re both legitimate threats to win the championship this year and I’m proud of that, and along with the Nationwide car and the success they had last night, then winning in the Truck Series just a huge weekend, not just for me personally but for everyone at Team Penske and hopefully we can keep that momentum rolling in weeks to come. As far as tonight and the rest of it is concerned, running second is certainly something to be proud of. I’d love to have that one more position, but it just wasn’t there. Everytime I’d get close to Joey I’d pick up a massive aero-push up off the corner and just couldn’t do anything. I lost too much speed to really even do anything. I couldn’t even get close enough to really do a bump-and-run. The last lap I just dive-bombed it in there on a prayer and kind of hoping it would stick or he would slip or something would happen for me, and made it look cool, but it really wasn’t that close. Still, it was a really good night. I think our two cars were really, really equal and whoever got out front and got the clean air first was gonna win the race and Joey was able to do that.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR MOMENTUM AND HOW MUCH DO THE 2 AND 22 SHARE? “The momentum kind of speaks for itself when you’re running well. I don’t really respectfully want to get into any of the other details about our teams and what they do. That’s kind of proprietary to our group and something we’re proud of and want to keep our cards close to our chest, but I think the results speak for themselves and we need to keep rolling. We’ve got two teams that are legitimate contenders by every stretch of the imagination, so I’m very proud of that.”

AT WHAT POINT DO YOU FOCUS ON WORKING TOGETHER OR INDIVIDUALLY IN THE CHASE? “I think that’s not really something I want to disclose in the media. That’s between Joey and I and we’ve developed a pretty good friendship. Certainly, we’re both hungry to be winners though and there’s a balancing act there. But it’s something I’d like to just keep between Joey and I.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED -- WHAT IS YOUR STRENGTH IN THE CHASE AND WHAT IS JOEY’S STRENGTH? “I think we ran really well at Loudon. I think that’s a track we’re very much looking forward to going back to and continue that success. Joey is really, really strong on the mile-and-a-halves and I’d expect him to be good at all of those. It’s hard to say because going into Kentucky I would have said that Joey’s style would have been better than mine, but we ran so well there. He certainly ran well, too, but it takes everything. It takes the car setup, it takes the driver, it takes the pit crew. The pieces that the guys back in the shop are doing, it takes all those pieces to be a contender. We’re out of the same shop, but it’s easy for one of the variables to be different, whether it’s the car setup or pit crew. Even if the actual car builids are the same just small details make all the difference in the world. It’s hard to say that either one of us has an advantage, and I think we’re heading into it pretty equal.”

WERE YOU BUMPING JOEY AT ONE POINT? “No, maybe Matt was. I saw a couple instances where Matt might have been, but I didn’t have any moments. We were just racing hard. One time I rubbed into him a little bit, but it was just minor. I didn’t think there was anything there.”

HOW MENTALLY DEMANDING WAS THIS RACE AND WAS IT THE MOST DEMANDING OF THE YEAR OVERALL? “I think it was as tough a race as I’ve ever been a part of. The pace is just grueling and mentally the lap traffic and the top and the bottom lane just keeps flying on you and there are a lot of laps too – 500 laps. It’s tough and the mental side always comes into play in racing, but tonight probably to its most extreme.”

DO YOU THINK JOEY HAS A LEGITIMATE SHOT TO WIN THE TITLE? “I think he has a tremendous shot at winning the championship and I don’t underestimate him. I don’t want to speak for my competition and what they think, I’ll let them speak for themselves.”

HOW MUCH HAVE YOU BEEN THINKING ABOUT THE CHASE VERSUS THE REMAINDER OF THE REGULAR SEASON. DO YOU VIEW THIS AS A PENSKE/HENDRICK SHOWDOWN? “No. To date in the season I think it’s been that way, but I think we’ve all got our eyes on Matt’s group and all the Gibbs cars and I just don’t see a whole season going by without them having a dominant race car in one section of time. I think we’re all fearful that will happen in the Chase when it counts the most, so certainly I wouldn’t say it’s Hendrick and Penske yet, but let the chips fall where they may.”

THOUGHTS ON BRISTOL GRINDING THE BOTTOM? “I just don’t think they should have changed the track at all. I think it was a mistake to do so, but it’s not my decision to make.”

NOTHING ON THE BOTTOM? “No. We don’t need to go grinding tracks – handed it to a bunch of engineers and told them to make the bottom lane the fastest land and, low and behold, they screwed it up and made the highest lane the fastest lane. I’m shocked.”

JOEY LOGANO – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion – PRESS CONFERENCE – “It’s a really big one. I feel like the Bristol night race is maybe the third or fourth biggest race of the year. Just the atmosphere before the race, if it doesn’t pump you up nothing does. It’s just the baddest mamma jamma race track ever built. It’s so much fun to go around and you have to hustle the car so hard, and it’s something we don’t typically have. We talked a little bit about it the other day I was in here about how hard you have to drive the car and wondering if it was gonna be like that in the race, and, yes, you had to drive the car that hard in the race to go fast. It just means a lot to be able to get this victory. Penske with the 1-2 finish there and all three Team Penske drivers being able to get a win with Brad in the Truck and Ryan last night and then ourselves trying to put the cherry on top here in the Cup race. All of us got a win, so everyone is happy. It’s definitely a very special weekend for Team Penske to be able to do that for Ford. Right now, the momentum that we have and the cars that we have, we’ve been fast at every type of race track, I wish we were I Atlanta tomorrow – maybe not tomorrow, I’m gonna enjoy tomorrow, but Monday sounds good.”

TODD GORDON, Crew Chief – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion – “It’s the epitome of short track racing, especially with the tire change that we had and what it did to the race track. It rubbered up so hard you had to execute at every level. 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 place to race and it brings you back to the roots of where you came from, where you can rub on people a little bit and you run hard. Joey did a phenomenal job of it tonight and this whole race team is definitely building momentum right now and at the right time, I believe.”

WALT CZARNECKI, Executive Vice President, Team Penske – “I think it was important. Mike Nelson and I had a little conversation tonight before the start of the race. I said to Michael, who is the general manager of our program, I said, ‘I think it’s really important that we continue the momentum that we have. 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. I think it illustrated again the place where we are right now the place we are right now in preparation for the Chase.”

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED – HOW MUCH OF A DISTRACTION WAS IT HAVING BRAD BEHIND YOU WHILE YOU WERE TRYING TO PASS MATT? “It’s not a distraction, it’s just something you have to put into the equation of when you’re catching him. I wanted to make sure I had enough room behind me. I made that pass and didn’t succeed at making that pass. I had a hole to get back in and I wasn’t going back to third because 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 awhile and waited for that mistake and waited for that golden opportunity when I knew I could clear him. So I waited and waited, hoping there wasn’t a restart because I was gonna be in trouble, but finally he got a little bit up in the rubber up high, up high he got a little free and I got a good run at the same time and was able to get up underneath him and get some good position in the corner to slide up. It took patience because if I didn’t do it, I was gonna go back to third and that kind of takes your shot at winning away. That’s the way we had to race all night was just look at how far behind the car is behind you, wait for lap traffic, and capitalize on it.”

BRAD SAID THIS WAS THE MOST GRUELING RACE OF THE YEAR. DO YOU AGREE AND DID YOUR YOUTH SERVE YOU WELL TONIGHT? “Yeah, it was definitely a very, very tough race. I feel like it’s the most physically demanding race track, not only for the driver but for the race car. You think about the loads these things are on there’s never really a break, you’re just always on the gas or the brake or in the turn, 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 like a minute and a half later and you’re like, ‘What the heck?’ It definitely was a tough race. That’s why we all train and try to be in the best shape we can to get through it, but whoever says we’re not athletes I disagree with that, especially today. 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. The focus you’ve got to have and, obviously, like we were just talking about with the thought process you have to have when you’re trying to pass cars and trying to communicate with your crew chief. There are a lot of things going on at a very small race track when you’re making 15-second laps, so it’s definitely a very tough race track for sure and that’s why it means so much to win here.”

DO YOU FEEL YOU’RE FLYING UNDER THE RADAR AS FAR AS THE TITLE GOES? “I don’t care what they think of us, we’re gonna do what we’ve got to do. They can underestimate us. They can overestimate us. I don’t really care. We’re gonna go out there and do the best we can do. Do what we’ve been doing. 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. We’re gonna keep doing that. 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. It would be really weird if we didn’t think we were. We’ve got three wins right now. We’ve got a really good shot. We’ve been fast at every single race track and that’s because this 22 team, and all of Team Penske, but in particular this 22 team is always looking for that next bit. No one is just doing their job and said I did my job and that’s enough. They’re always looking for that extra little bit and how they can become better and how they can make our race car better and that’s what it takes, so it’s definitely the best shot I’ve ever had at winning a championship I can promise you that. So I feel very confident going into it.”

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN FOR YOU TO WIN THE TITLE FOR FORD? “It would mean a lot. That’s kind of a dumb question. Of course it would mean a lot. 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. It’s a lot of pressure when you go into it, but we’re a team, we do it together.”

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED -- SHOULD THEY CONSIDER GRINDING THE BOTTOM OF THE TRACK? “It’s very hard to be able to do it because now the top had come in so well, but at the same time it does produce a pretty good race. It’s kind of like the old Bristol when everyone was on the bottom and you had to root and gouge to get people out of the way. It’s the same thing but up top, so it’s definitely different but similar and I think it puts on a good race. I think the fact that some of the lapped cars are a little bit slower that that’s your opportunity to pass – 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 to try to make the bottom work and then you have to find a hole to get back up top and just kind of let your car come to you and then wait for that opportunity to pass somebody. But we knew that going into it, so it was not very frustrating for a driver, and, like you said, my car was good so that probably keeps me from getting too frustrated also. But I feel like it was a good race tonight. I felt like there was some good passing, there was some good strategy going on and, yeah, we’re running up against the wall. It’s very fast up there, but I felt there were definitely some things you could do and there’s a few different lines you can do to make your car better or faster or whatever.”

WERE YOU CONCERNED YOU WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO PASS MATT WHEN HE STAYED OUT? “I wasn’t too concerned. I didn’t really think about it. I was just thinking about how I could have the best restart I can and make something happen out of this. I felt like I was in good position. Todd gave me four tires there and the pit crew did a great job in keeping our track position with the restart sixth, it’s better than fifth, and made sure I had a good start there. Pass as many cars off the get-go as I can and then settle in and start working on the 20, but I was impressed at how well the 20 hung in there on old tires like that. You’ve seen guys with two tires tonight that eventually would fall off toward the end of the run quite a bit and he kind of hung in there pretty well, so he had a pretty fast race car.”

HAVE YOU HAD A THOUGHT ABOUT HAVING TWO ATTEMPTS TO LEAD EVERYBODY IN THE CHASE AND WILL YOUR TEAMMATE BE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN THE CHASE? “I haven’t thought about it yet as far as getting that next win, but I do feel like Atlanta is a good race track for us, a place we were very, very fast, probably the best race car I ever had was last year in Atlanta, so I’m very excited about going back over there. That will be fun. Leading them into the Chase means something. It’s pretty cool if we were able to do that, but I’d much rather lead them at Homestead and do it that way, but I do feel like Brad is gonna be one of the top contenders to win this championship, along with us, and the guys that you see tough out there, but you never know. I know it’s a different Chase format from normal, but you’ve seen guys that kind of run so-so and then all of a sudden the Chase starts and they pick it up a notch and they’re kicking butt. You can’t really rule anybody out, and you never know what’s gonna happen. This is new for everybody with what’s gonna happen, but obviously fast race cars and being able to capitalize right now is what we need to do when we get into the Chase.”

TODD GORDON CONTINUED – HOW HAVE YOU SEEN JOEY GROW? “I think everybody at Team Penske does an awesome job of preparing great race cars. I think that shows with a 1-2 finish tonight, but you can’t do anything with great race cars unless you’ve got great talent behind the wheel. 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 this year from last year. 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. We battled through practice and did a lot of things, but we got to the end of it and lap average we were 11th or 12th in first practice and we looked at what we had, but the car was driving the way we needed it to drive to be successful come race time. I think that showed tonight that when we got to lap traffic we could really hustle through it, so to your original question of how much have I seen him grow, he came in here fairly confident. He owned the position when he came to the 22 Shell/Pennzoil car and that ownership and the relationship to not only myself but everybody on this race team has continued to grow. An often used word that never gets as much serious consideration is we have chemistry. There’s nobody here on this race team that doesn’t believe we can be successful and isn’t pulling rope together. That, I think, is what helps us to have speed every week and I think we’ll continue to build off that.”

WALT CZARNECKI CONTINUED – HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP THE DYNAMIC IN YOUR SHOP WITH A YOUNG DRIVER THAT HAS ALREADY WON A TITLE AND ANOTHER THAT IS COMING ON? “I think we’re probably candidly we knew we’d have a good team this year because, if you recall, coming off the championship we were going through some significant changes. Think about it, we switched from one manufacturer to Ford. That was a big enough change. There was a rules change, so we were starting with a new car. We had a new driver join the team. We had an incident at Texas early in the season that I think set us back for awhile. We got through season, I think things stabilized by the time the Chase rolled around last year and this past off-season we didn’t have those kinds of distractions. We had the opportunity to have everybody focus on how we make the best cars possible, how does Joey mature as a person and as a driver, and one thing he knows and I think he can speak to it – when he came on board with us we told Joey, ‘There is no number one. There is no number two. Everybody is equal. We all contribute. We all have the same access to information, the same access to resources,’ and I think it’s really demonstrated in the performance of the team this year with six wins. If you think about it, we might have even had one or two more along the way, so I think that’s probably a fair assessment.”

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED – “I agree. That was a good answer.”

HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE CHASE WITH BRAD? “I think at least from the driver standpoint, I think both Brad and myself understand that we need to work together to be able to run well. We’re a two-car team out there. We need to work very tight together to make it work, 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, and as a driver it’s our responsibility right now, to make sure we race each other right and make sure we still share our information because the moment we stop doing that and the moment we go away from each other the performance will go away. I think we both understand that, that if we grow apart from each other we’re not gonna be running first and second anymore, we’re gonna 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. That’s the attitude we’ve got to keep throughout this whole thing. Yeah, I see ourselves racing for the 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.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WIN AT BRISTOL AND HAVE THAT TROPHY? “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. I just scream. There’s just so much raw emotion that comes out of nowhere. The last 40 laps you’re waiting for the caution. You’re waiting for something. Brad is catching me. It’s so intense and to come across that line and get that checkered flag I don’t have words that can put that I can put that in to. It’s just the raw emotion of winning one of these races is unreal because you worked so hard. You dedicate your life to winning a Sprint Cup championship or winning races and that’s not just for the driver, that’s for everybody. 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 are able to beat them, you should be pretty proud of yourself.”

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED – COULD YOU ENVISION A SEASON LIKE THIS WHEN YOU WERE AT GIBBS AND HOW WAS YOUR CONFIDENCE WHEN YOU ARRIVED AT TEAM PENSKE? “My worst days over there I think about it and obviously just like anybody you’d be down in the dumps and you lose your confidence as a driver. That’s probably the worst thing that can happen is when you lose your confidence and I was in that boat. Thank goodness I had Nationwide races and we were kicking butt in Nationwide because that’s really what I had to rely on was to go out there and win those things and that would just help me get through it. At times it was really, really hard. 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. You’ve got to have your head in the right spot, but I’m happy I went through all that. It’s made me who 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 were a lot of good times over there, don’t get me wrong. Obviously the last year over there we were able to win a race and that was good for me. That was probably the big moment that was able to get me this ride, and then who would ever think. I felt like when I came over here at Team Penske, I don’t know what my goals were. I think I was kind of like just pick it up a notch in every single area, whether that’s on or off the race track. You get to walk in there as a new person and be who you want to be. 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, but as you start building that confidence up slowly you start to think, ‘Yeah, I can win everything,’ and as a driver you have to have that confidence in yourself to race well.”

TODD GORDON CONTINUED -- WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT THE CHASE LAST YEAR TO PREPARE YOU FOR THIS YEAR? “I would say you’ve got to experience it first to understand how to prepare for it and that was probably the thing I would take from last year. At this point last year we weren’t locked in. We were racing. We had a win but we were still right at that verge of points and didn’t know where we’d be and racing people for those wild card spots with points and whether we’d be in on points, whether we’d be in on a win and all that, so there was still a lot of stress at this point of just trying to get in. In this race we overcame a lot, came back from having to pit with 40 or 50 to go for debris on the nose and Joey drove his xxxx off – rated G today – but we drove back to fifth and it was a good thing for us. 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, and you couldn’t do any preparation. We weren’t as prepared how to go forward because we didn’t know what to expect. I think the bigger picture now is you’ve seen it, we know we’re in and we started conversations when we won Texas of, ‘OK, 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 on how Team Penske is gonna test for this Chase and those plans are already laid in stone and 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 the stress level come down and say, ‘OK, what do we have to do going forward.’ And it’s really changed how we’re gonna race the next two races as well. You want to be successful as much as you can, but you also want to make sure you keep your head on the big picture. You’ve got to keep momentum with a race team because there’s a lot of that right now – momentum going forward – but we need to make sure we maximize our opportunity at every race track in the Chase.”

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED -- WHAT’S SO DIFFERENT ABOUT THE CHASE THIS YEAR? “I think just to see it. How much everyone just picks it up a notch. We talk about that a lot, but everyone just goes harder. I feel right now like I’m going as hard as I possibly can. It’s like, ‘I’ve got nothing else left in the tank,’ 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 and we get to Chicago. That’s the moment I’ve got to find where is there a little bit left? Where can I become a little bit better? That’s my part, but the team needs to do the same thing. 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 that you’ve got more in the tank and we’ve got to find it and do it.”

DID YOU STEP IT UP IN THE CHASE LAST YEAR? “We were fast. We were able to step it up a little bit, maybe not as much as we would like. We battled some adversity throughout the Chase but for the most part we ran pretty good. I feel a lot better about our chances this year though already.”

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