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Transcript: Team Penske's Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski look ahead to 2017 season

Feb 05, 2017 Hit: 1052 Written by 
The Penske team looks to contend for another Cup title in 2017, with Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski once again behind the wheel.
The Penske team looks to contend for another Cup title in 2017, with Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski once again behind the wheel. Photo courtesy of Team Penske

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion

YOU AND BRAD AND RYAN REALLY GET ALONG TOGETHER. WHEN AND HOW DID THAT CHEMESTRY COME ABOUT? “I think the three of us have a lot in common and we just naturally get along. I think we all really get the big picture and I think that is hard to find a lot of times. When you get teammates that all can see the big picture together and understand what we are there to do. Yes, we all want to win. Each one of us wants to win the race and have the trophies and all that but we also realize if we don’t work together none of us are going to raise the trophy up. I think everyone at Team Penske sees that, drivers included. You might see some of that throughout teams but then drivers don’t see it that way, but I think we have showed it a lot, especially superspeedway racing and the way we are able to work together and get ourselves up front and ultimately win races. It is important that Brad and I have grown into having a great friendship at this point. We talk about a lot of things outside of racing. I think that is valuable. I do the same thing with my crew chief Todd (Gordon) and I think those relationships are very valuable when they become more than a business relationship. It makes it easy to talk things out. I think it is hard to have that but I think it is very important.”

YOU HAVE RECEIVED YOUR FAIR SHARE OF BOO’S DURING DRIVER INTROS. DOES THAT BOTHER YOU? “I secretly love it. Don’t tell anybody. In all honesty, yeah I would rather be loved than hated but I would rather them say something than nothing. In all honesty, Martinsville is the race track that I think they dislike me the most. I can tell usually by the pick-up truck ride and counting the number of birds I get. All I can think of is how cool it would be to win there and do a big burnout. That would be the coolest. That is motivation to me. I do like that people like me and my fans that support me as a person and as a race car driver. I feel like they have gotten to know me, my personality and what I stand for. I also respect that some people don’t and that is okay. I am who I am and I am not going to change anything. Also I appreciate the passion that our fans have. Love it or hate it, love or hate me, they have passion and I think that is very important in sports. You see that in football, you see that in baseball and basketball. You have a team you like and you have a few teams you really dislike. That is part of it. I think that is good. I think that is healthy for our sport. As long as they are making noise.”

HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY DIFFERENCE AT ALL NOW THAT STEWART-HAAS RACING IS UNDER THE FORD BANNER? WHAT CAN THEY BRING TO FORD THAT WILL ULTIMATELY BENEFIT TEAM PENSKE? “There are definitely a lot of different avenues where we can work together. It is always an interesting relationship because we still have to race each other but we want to see how we can both grow and make Ford a powerhouse manufacturer and get them a manufacturer’s championship and have both of our organizations win more races. That is the ultimate goal. Teaming with SHR is a smart move and impressive move by Ford. It shows their commitment to what they are trying to do and their investment in our sport. I think there are a lot of different avenues we can work together with. There has already been communication and some things are already underway. It wil be interesting to see how that relationship grows over the next few years and how it works out. So far so good. I think as far as the drivers over there, I get along with them. Kevin (Harvick) and I usually see each other on superspeedways quite a bit and end up helping each other randomly. I think that relationship has grown a lot. I really think it is a good move and an impressive move for Ford to do that and I look forward to seeing what it can bring this year.”

QUESTION INAUDIBLE “Both, I think it is some directly and some within Ford. Ford wants us all to work together as much as we can but we still have to race each other so there is that line there for trading out assets.”

THE FORMAT CHANGES, WE KNOW BRAD WAS HEAVILY INVOLVED, WHERE DID YOU FALL INTO THOSE DISCUSSIONS? ALSO, CAN YOU COMMENT ON NIGHT RACING AT MARTINSVILLE THIS YEAR? “I was involved in the meetings and it was pretty cool to be a part of that. The first one was in Las Vegas when we were out there for the banquet and it was a very impressive group. A select number of drivers and folks from NBC and FOX with commentators and NASCAR with very open ears to hear any options. We all threw it out there in the open for discussion and then you had team principles there as well. It was quite the conversation to get things going and ideas were all over the place. You kind of leave there with a knowledge that there were ideas but no real direction. As the meetings kept moving forward we started honing in on what it was going to be and I got more and more excited about it. I know it is the right thing for the sport. It is what the sport needs. Every lap just became way more important. Every race became way more important. That is good for the whole sport. If you are a race fan going to the Martinsville spring race and your driver already won a race before that, he isn’t really racing for anything. He is thinking about the Chase in the fall there. But now there is something to watch that race for and something for him to race for. I think the way this whole format is structured is for a reason. It is for a reason for everyone to race hard and put on a great race for our fans. It makes us feel like we are racing for something as drivers and as teams. I don’t see anything but good things coming out of this. I am thoroughly, really excited about what is coming up for the sport with this change along with the aero changes for this year which I think have been lost in the shuffle of all this. That will be a big deal. There are a lot of stories going into the season.”

“Your second part of the question, Martinsville night races. Sweet. That sounds like fun. Short track night races are tough to beat. I don’t know if that is what we are doing. Are we doing that? I haven’t heard that. I know they have lights now. They are racing something under the lights there but I don’t know what it is. Late model races? Cool.”

GOING INTO THIS YEAR, DOES THIS NEW FORMAT PLAY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE? “It plays to the person’s advantage who takes the opportunity to get ahead. There is a lot of opportunity when there is change. Brad says that is the best. When there is change like this the first person who figures it out is going to have a huge advantage. Right now, the way the new format is, if you can get some bonus points at the beginning of the year it will help you get all the way to Homestead and the Championship 4. Figuring it out early is key. For me, I have one gear and it is wide-open. It doesn’t really change the way I race as a driver but as a team and how Todd will call these races is obviously going to be different. That is going to be interesting to see how that evolves throughout all the races and the season and what everyone is trying to do. That will be very interesting. It will affect some drivers as well where they will be racing with more intensity and taking more risks and I think that all makes a better race, in my opinion.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion

YOU ARE PART OF THE FORD DRIVER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM.  HAS THAT BEEN MODELED AFTER TOYOTA’S PROGRAM?  “I think you look at the Ford driver lineup and there is certain aspects to where having a development team can be very helpful, and I think Ford sees that, so we’re excited to help them.  We’ve already had a program that could facilitate those needs, and it just seemed like a real natural fit for everybody.  I think there’s a lot of excitement towards it.  I don’t know if I would say that it’s modeled after any program because I don’t know that there’s a program that exists like it.  Toyota certainly has some things that they’re doing, for sure, and they’ve done an incredible job.  They’re bringing in waves of talent, but this sport it’s tough on people, it’s tough on drivers, it’s tough on crew members, it’s tough on you guys, it’s grueling so I think we’re seeing a lot of turnover and we’re gonna see a lot of turnover in the next few years and there’s nothing wrong with being prepared and I think Ford making the move they’re making with the driver program really positions them in a key and strategic way in case that wave hits them.”

WHAT WAS THE GREATEST DEBATE IN THE ROOM WHEN DECIDING THE NEW RULES?  “The greatest debate or discussion, I don’t know, there’s a bunch of them but I can only answer for myself.  Probably the greatest debate was on the whole playoff points situation and what should carry over and how long it should carry over.  I felt very strongly that we needed to have the ability to connect the regular season to the post season, so that you didn’t see teams win early in the season and kind of get into test mode, but trying to figure out how to do that in a way that wasn’t overwhelming, but still effective was certainly a pretty strong point of conversation.”

HOW MUCH OF THE FORMAT CHANGES WERE THINGS YOU PERSONALLY PUSHED FOR AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ROGER PENSKE STORY?  “The format changes, I’m not looking to take any credit publicly or otherwise for getting anything changed here.  There was a lot of collaboration.  There were certainly some things that some people pushed for harder than others, but I don’t want to get into the credit and blame game of what works and what doesn’t work.  I was just proud and happy to be in the room and to hopefully been helpful in the process.  With respect to a good Roger story.  I have some that aren’t for public consumption, so I’ve got to find the right one that won’t get me in trouble.  One of my favorite Roger stories was when we were going for the championship in 2012 and Roger is a very polished man, and I like that about him.  Some would use the word stoic, and he does things with so much class and elegance that it’s really inspiring to you.  But one thing that sticks out to me was when Roger got his first iPhone.  He was a Blackberry guy, a longtime Blackberry guy, and the iPhone came out and he wouldn’t use the iPhone.  I remember the day he got his first iPhone, and Roger is about to have a birthday to where he leaves the seventies category, but, either way, he got it while he was in his seventies.  He got this iPhone and he was trying to learn how to use it and he had just got it when I saw him at a race a couple years back.  He picks up this iPhone and was like, ‘How does this work?  How does that work?’  If you know Roger, you know the face he makes.  He puts it in front of you and you’re on the spot.  You want to show him, but you don’t want to show him up.  So you show him a few things and he’s learning how to use his iPhone, and you’re like, ‘He’s got a long way to go.’  Normally, you see people – I think to my dad, you give him an iPhone and he gives you a couple sideways look and says, ‘How do I turn it on?’  The next time I saw Roger about a month later at another race he was using it and he was using it proficiently – almost as good as I could use it.  And it’s my favorite Roger story because I think it’s kind of the story that explains why he’s so successful.  He’s willing to pick up new technology, new things even as he’s in his seventies and beyond, and continue to expand and get better.  Most people get 30, 40 years old and are like, ‘Alright, I’m just gonna cruise.’  Hell, he’s in his seventies and he’s still climbing and still learning and still growing and it’s just such a testament to him to who he is and what makes him successful that he’s always willing to grow, always willing to learn, always has an open eye and developing skill set.  That’s my favorite Roger Penske story.  The next time you pick up some new technology and you don’t know how it works, you’ll know how I feel because he makes me feel so guilty when I can’t figure out how something works.”

YOU’VE BEEN CRITICAL OF NASCAR’S CONCUSSION PROTOCOL IN THE PAST AND SAID YOU WOULD HAVE AN OPEN MIND ABOUT IT.  HAS ANYTHING CHANGED IN YOUR THINKING?  “I read this great article, I think it was Northwestern University that has made some huge studies and potential breakthroughs with respect to coming up with a definitive tool to diagnose and that piece, to me, is potentially the future of this sport and the path that we need to go down and explore – not just for our sport but for all sports.  But as the program stands right now, my opinion hasn’t changed and it’s one where I feel like the program is extremely deficient.”

WHAT HAS THE REACTION BEEN TO THESE CHANGES ON THE FORMAT?  “What stood out to me is when people don’t like something it’s like 100 percent negative feedback, but when the majority likes it, and the minority dislikes it, it’s about 50 percent, so what stood out to me is the feedback has been about 50 percent, which tells me the majority likes it and is gonna give it a shot.  That’s extremely encouraging to me.  Of course, there is always a resistance to change.  I think a lot of people want to see it in action, and that’s great.  The people that want to see it in action, I am 100 percent convinced they’re gonna like what they see and it’s gonna work out well.  The people that are willing to give it a shot, I think are gonna fall back in love with NASCAR.”

AFTER HOMESTEAD YOU SAID THE FORMAT KIND OF RISKS YOU EVERYTHING.  IT’S STILL THE SAME AT HOMESTEAD, BUT DO YOU FEEL LEADING UP TO HOMESTEAD IT ENCOURAGES MORE OR LESS RISK?  “I think until Homestead you’re seeing that the points leaders, the guys that are transferring through to Homestead, have some kind of connection to the regular season with this new format, which I think is so important.  It’s important on multiple levels.  It’s important from the team side and the driver side because it keeps us honest, it keeps us pushing, it keeps us from taking races not necessarily off, but races that we would have looked at before and said, ‘Let’s save our best car. That race isn’t important.’  The propensity to do that is gonna go down.  As drivers, I think what you’re gonna see is a desire and maybe more of an anger factor when things don’t go your way in the regular season it didn’t exist.  I think back to an example being Kyle and Carl at Richmond with the bump-and-run, which is really one of the biggest moves in our sport.  It’s really what NASCAR racing was built on and it really didn’t do anything.  It didn’t make a big splash.  It didn’t make a big headline because it had no connection to the end.  It had no connection to the pathway with Homestead, so what I see now is this connection being re-fostered from the regular season to the post season, which is so critical to driving the emotions of the drivers to have a connection and that emotion doesn’t stop there.  I think that emotion carries over to its fans.  I want to know that if you go to the first Loudon race and a driver wins a race that that made an effect that you will see in the second Loudon race.  Our fans deserve that.  Our fans deserve that reasoning and that rationale to know that whatever they see on any race weekend is guaranteed to be important for the entire season, so I think that’s what I see in this balance with the format.  There’s still the Homestead scenario, which isn’t ideal, but I understand and respect it.  But I think the pathway to Homestead makes a lot more sense and will be a lot better for our sport.”

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT CHASE BRISCOE?  “Chase Briscoe.  How can I sum Chase up?  Chase, to me, I hear this all the time and I want to be really clear on this – I hear this all the time how all the NASCAR drivers are these rich millionaires that grew up with daddy’s money.  Look, I’m not complaining.  I didn’t grow up with big check to write to get a ride to where I am now.  I did have some help from my family along the way, for sure.  They taught me how to race and everyone I think that makes it has a little bit of help from someone, but what I see in Chase that I love about the guy is this is a guy who moves to North Carolina just a handful of years ago, slept on couches, pushed brooms, worked in the shops, didn’t have a ride, and somehow convinced other people to let him drive their race car and was successful.  He went out and won and he earned it.  He earned the opportunity.  He went to the ARCA level and won races, won the championship.  He’s earned his opportunity.  He’s eaten the humble pie.  He's done the things that you would want a driver like that to do and that I think of when I think of a real stock car driver back to his roots, and for that I think he’s gonna be very successful because it’s that work ethic that carries you to the next level of success when you do get to the Cup level.  He’s got a great base.  He’s got a great future in front of him.  Of course, he’s got to keep executing.  He’s got to make the most of this opportunity to get another one.  I think he knows that.  I think he’s appreciative.  As far as how well I knew him beforehand?  I didn’t know him personally, but I knew a lot of people that did and it was those stories along with his success that drove me to make him a part of our team for 2017.”

-- Press release courtesy of Ford Racing

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: www.autotechreviews.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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