Ford Performance NASCAR: Daytona 500 Media Day (Logano and Custer)

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang – DID YOU AND BRAD TALK AFTER SUNDAY?  “We’ve talked and I think so.  We’ll see.  We’re gonna have different opinions on a lot of things all the time.  That’s part of racing and things like that, but I think we’ll be fine.”

SO YOU DIDN’T GO TO DISNEYWORLD?  “I did go to DisneyWorld.  We went Monday for the day and came back.  It was good.”

BUT YOU DIDN’T SEE HIM THERE?  “No.  We didn’t run into each other there.  It’s a big place.  There’s a lot of people there.  Oh my God, there are people everywhere there.  I figured we would run into each other at some point, but we never did.  It’s a big place.”

DID YOU NEED TO TALK TO BRAD IN THE SENSE OF THERE MIGHT BE SOME CONFUSION ABOUT THIS SITUATION?  “That’s all you can do is just try to explain your side of the story of what happened.  There are different perspectives on the whole thing and I had no clue.  I was like, ‘Hey, what are you mad about?  Let’s talk about it.’  There were things that I had no idea about and I just explained my side of the story.  That’s all you can really do.  I think once he understands the whole side of the story, and you know how it is, you get out of the race car, you’re frustrated, you’re mad, your emotions are running high, you haven’t re-watched anything yet and they stick a microphone in your face and ask you what happened.  You don’t really know until you go back and study it and figure it all out.  That stuff happens, but, like I said, we’ve been friends for a long time.  We’ve been able to figure stuff out before he said afterwards.  I’m not really that worried about it.  It’s gonna be OK.  We’re gonna figure it out.  Everything always blows by.  Everything gets better all the time.”

IS IT COMPETITIVENESS AMONG EACH OTHER WITH THE CREW CHIEF CHANGE?  “I don’t believe so.  From the outside looking in you could say that.  It’s easy to say that from the outside looking in, but I feel we’ve always been competitive with each other.  It’s something that makes a great teammate is someone that can challenge you, someone that can make you better.  We were talking about that the other day.  I think Brad’s been that person for me all the time and we kind of go back and forth.  One team runs better than the other for six or seven weeks and then it swaps and then it swaps.  That’s good to have someone like that, that can challenge you.  So that competition is always there either way, but the ability to work together also needs to be there.”

LAST YEAR OR THE YEAR BEFORE BRAD SAID SOMETHING ABOUT PEOPLE WHO BLOCK.  IS THAT STILL THE CASE TODAY?  “You should ask him, I guess.  I still don’t understand where I did anything wrong.  I made a good block to the 18 and got tagged in the left-rear.  I don’t totally get it, but that’s a question for Brad.”

AS FAR AS YOU’RE CONCERNED WHAT IS THE RULE FOR DRAFTING?  “Don’t make bad blocks.  Don’t make a block to where someone has already broken the plane of your back bumper.  That’s a bad block.  That’s what causes crashes.”

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED -- HAVE YOU TALKED TO NASCAR ABOUT THE 2021 SCHEDULE?  “I haven’t had much to do with that to be honest with you.  I get to sit in a lot of the meetings and involved in it pretty heavily, but the schedule piece doesn’t come up much and that’s OK.  I’ll race wherever you tell me to race as long as I have a place to race.”

PEOPLE WANT MORE SHORT TRACKS.  REALISTICALLY, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ADDED?  “The biggest thing to me is making it an event.  Like the Daytona 500 is an amazing event.  We need to make things like this very special, not just the Daytona 500 but we have a few of them a year.  You think of the Southern 500, throwback weekend, that’s a big event.  That’s a cool thing.  All-Star Race feels like an event.  It’s something different, something special.  I think that’s what we have to look at and Pocono did a good job with this year.  Pocono used to just be a race in Pocono.  It wasn’t a big deal.  Now it’s an event.  There are two races in one weekend and that’s a cool way of turning it into a big event.  We need to look at ways of doing that, whether that is like I’ve heard rumors about street courses and racing through cities or whatever it may be.  That would be a really cool event  We should look at things like that.”

AS A DRIVER WHEN YOU HEAR STREET COURSE DO YOU FAVOR THAT?  “It sounds cool to me.  I think changing it up and doing things like that is important.  I think it’s no secret that a lot of times where our races are sometimes in the middle of nowhere every now and again.  A lot of the younger demographic, the football type fans that don’t know much about our sport, are in the city.  Let’s go to them.  If you raced in the city they can’t get away from you.  You’re gonna have to watch and it will be something really neat and there would be some really cool pictures and obviously just racing like that down Main Street somewhere.  How cool would that be?”

WOULD YOU BE GOOD WITH GETTING THE SCHEDULE DOWN TO 30 RACES OR SO?  “The same amount or races, but less weekends?  I don’t really want to race less.  I like this.  Obviously, I’m excited about being here today.  I love what I do, so I don’t want to do it less, but I could understand shortening the schedule up, not the amount of races, but the period that we’re on and off.  I can see that being a good thing possibly, but this is stuff that’s kind of over my head a little bit.  This is for NASCAR to figure out.  There’s a lot of other players in the game than what the teams want or what the drivers want or what NASCAR wants, it’s got to be what TV wants as well.  That’s a big player in this sport as well, so it’s the same thing as all the other rules changes, everyone has to collaborate together to make the right move.”

DOES TJ YOU HAVE TO BE PERFECT FOR YOU TO WIN HERE?  “We all have to be perfect.  Yes, he has to be perfect.  I have to be perfect.  The pit crew, our strategy, everything has to be perfect and perfect means that you can still get caught up in something, obviously out there, but the way you recover from it you need to be perfect.  You need to control what you can’t control the best way possible, which means you’re gonna get caught up in something at some point it seems like out there and the better you can recover, look at Erik Jones the other day.  Did he have a perfect day?  No, but they executed the repairs,

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED – “getting back on the track and every opportunity that was around him he used perfectly to win the race, so those are the things you have to be perfect at.”

DO YOU TELL YOUR TEAM ABOUT HOW MUCH INFORMATION YOU WANT OVER THE RADIO?  “We talk about every day still.  It doesn’t stop.  You’re always trying to evolve.  What’s the next level of this?  The draft is always changing, so trying to figure that out together.  We’ve got to be on the same page of that, so we constantly communicate about how to be better all the time.  He’s a key player, especially more last year than ever before with the 550 rules.  You’re doing this style of racing more often than before and you would say these type of tracks the spotter is the most important than other tracks.”

A LOT OF DRIVERS HAVE THEIR CONTRACTS UP AFTER THIS SEASON WITH THE 48 BEING THE MOST OBVIOUS.  HOW CURIOUS ARE YOU TO SEE HOW THINGS PLAY OUT?  “I agree.  I was thinking about this the other day and saying I’m glad I’m not a part of this.  I get to focus on driving a race car, but, boy oh boy, there are a lot of big name drivers, really talented drivers that are up for grabs this year that can move around.  Interesting enough that they’re considered free agents at this point.  A lot of times team don’t let it get to this point before they re-sign a driver, so interesting that some of the drivers that are free agents, if you want to call it that, I guess.  They’re not yet, but they will be if nothing happens, is kind of an interesting take at this, especially with the 48 seat opening up.  There is an opportunity for someone that doesn’t have a great ride to get into something like that, so it’s really interesting.”

HAVE YOU RESOLVED THINGS WITH BRAD? “Everybody gets in a scuffle with each other.  Every friend has a disagreement with each other every now and again.  It’s all about how you work through it and we’ll be fine.”

DID THE KOBE BRYANT ACCIDENT CAUSE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY TO RE-THINK HOW YOU TRAVEL?  “It makes you think.  I never liked helicopters in the first place.  I’ve always been very timid about jumping on a helicopter and can honestly say I’ve probably rode on one three times.  I don’t know, they feel like they go straight down, they don’t glide, but that’s my own fear I guess.  But you’ve got to be smart and it’s hard to be because you’re not the one crawling underneath the airplane, but I have a great agreement with Wheels Up and I feel like they’re ability to not only have the best pilots, but be able to do the right amount of maintenance to the plane, make sure that it’s where it needs to be is very important.  I also fly on the team plane and I feel like if I’m gonna drive Roger’s car, Roger’s plane should be good too.  When you fly commercial, you hope that the right pilots are in there.  You hope that works.  There are a lot of lives on the line and the biggest thing that I see is the majority of the time when something like this happens – an air disaster – it’s usually pilot error.  It’s usually a human most of the time, so that’s where you just have to make sure you have people that are doing what they want to do.  That’s why I think Wheels Up is a great thing because a lot of pilots want to fly private aviation because it’s a better schedule and the pay is good as well.  To me, I feel a little better about that because you’re gonna have the top echelon of pilots.”

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED -- SO YOUR PLANS WON’T CHANGE?  “We’ve got to fly every week.  We have to.  To do this right and get home and prepare for the next race you can’t drive from place to place to place.  I’m not gonna drive to Vegas next week.  It takes too long.”

NEARLY HALF THE FIELD WILL HAVE A DIFFERENT DRIVER AND DIFFERENT NUMBER.  HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR GETTING THAT ALL STRAIGHT?  “That part we don’t talk about a whole bunch.  It’s more or less just how the draft works and runs and things like that.  We kind of know who is in which car.  It’s not that bad.  Honestly, it’s not like you shut off in November and you don’t look at any social media or anything that’s going on in our sport until you get here in Daytona.  You guys have been posting everything and, really, honestly, you keep up to date through that type of stuff or Race Hub shows or NBC shows. I watch that stuff, so I’m kind of up to date with it, so it’s not like a huge surprise who is in which car.  I talk more about the draft itself than specific people or things like that.”

BUT YOU WANT TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE DRAFTING WITH, RIGHT? “Of course you want to know, yeah.  That’s what you have the mirror for.  What also helps is they have the name over the back glass, so you know exactly who that is.  You can read it.”

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE JIM FRANCE’S LEADERSHIP STYLE?  “From what I know his leadership style and getting to know him is he’s a quiet leader.  He’s more of a I want to say behind the scenes.  He’s very in tune with what’s going on, but he’s not a flashy leader.  You obviously see him walk around in his blue jeans and a button down shirt and he’s a normal guy, and I like that.  There are people that lead from a global level and then there are people that lead from the ground floor right with you.  I’m more of a ground floor type of person.  I like people that will do that with you, someone that’s gonna sweep the floors with you at the end of the day.  That’s the type of person that people want to work for, that they’re not intimidated by, they can talk to and be a normal human.  That’s the type of leader that I see him being and being able to talk to him, he’s very open to talk to and he’s around.  He’s not like someone that doesn’t show up.  You see him every week and as normal as he is I don’t know if anyone has ever seen his bus.  He’s parked right across from me.  You would have never known it.  He’s got this old, I mean an old, old bus – like old – like seventies old.  So it just shows that he’s a normal guy that is running an amazing company and is doing a good job at it and making big changes at it right now.”

WHAT’S YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL WITH THINGS COMPARED TO TWO YEARS AGO?  “Confidence level in the sports direction is I like it.  I like that we’re doing things.  We’re changing up schedules or changing up the NextGen car.  Those things will change our sport in a huge, huge way.  Those two along.  There are other changes that will come along with this stuff, but those two alone will change the landscape of our sport quite a bit, so I’m excited to see where those go.  No one has ever gotten anywhere by sitting still, so we have to make changes even if things are the highest they’ve ever been, we still have to make changes to keep up and I’m glad that they’re looking at unique ways, things to make our sport better from fan’s perspective with the schedule and the NextGen car and also from the team’s perspective on trying to make the cost of running a race season better and making the business

JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED – “idea for a race owner work better for them so it’s more like the NFL is, where you really want to own a team because you can make a profit.  That’s what a business is about.  It’s about making money at the end of the day and it’s hard for owner’s to make money right now.  They don’t.  This is a way that hopefully it attracts new owners into our sport because, quite frankly, we kind of need that, so this could be a good thing for our sport as well from that angle.”

COLE CUSTER, No 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang – IS IT NICE HAVING THIS MANY ROOKIES IN THIS CLASS?  “I think it’s nice to just kind of have everybody in the same boat.  Everybody is in the same situation, but at the same time you’re racing 38 other guys out there, so it’s a matter of focusing on yourself and doing what you need to do to get better and focusing on your own plan.  I can’t be focusing on those two or those three trying to figure out what they’re doing.”

HOW DID THE FIRST WEEKEND GO?  “It was nice.  I think everything kind of felt a lot more normal once we got in the garage because every garage area is the same.  It’s guys working on the car and you’re trying to make your car as fast as you can. It was nice kind of getting that feel.  I didn’t do anything perfect, I’ll say that.  I want to do things better, but at the same time we had a solid weekend.  We didn’t do anything wrong and I think we can carry that into this weekend and just keep building it better and better and see where we can go in the 500.”

WHAT IS THE VIBE OF THE TEAM?  IS THERE SOMEONE YOU CAN GO TO?  A MENTOR?  “I’ve talked with Kevin a lot.  I talked with Kevin a lot through my XFINITY stuff also and he’s been extremely helpful and one of the most helpful people I’ve ever talked to, for sure.  But even in our post-practice meeting with Clint and Aric and ask those guys for advice they’re extremely open also, so if I can get advice from any of those guys it’s gonna be huge.  You just try to be a sponge as much as you can.”

WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST WORRY?  “I think the thing that you would say is the most different from XFINITY cars is probably the traffic.  There’s a lot more traffic.  In XFINITY you’re racing against maybe 10 guys, where here you’re racing against 25, so you’re dealing with a lot more traffic, the cars are harder to drive in traffic, so it’s just managing that I think is the biggest thing.”

WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTATIONS?  “I don’t know if there are any set expectations.  We want to make the playoffs.  I think you’ve got to take it one step at a time.  You probably start out just trying to make it in the top 15 and racing there and then you try to build on it and as long as you take it one step at a time and do the little things right, you’ll probably find yourself in a pretty good situation sometimes in races because we have really fast cars and a good team around me.  I think as long as we do the little things right we should be good.”

WILL WE SEE YOU COME OUT OF YOUR SHELL A LITTLE MORE LIKE WITH YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STUFF?  “I think so.  Why not?  I think some of that has been cool to show your personality because we’re all just normal people.  It’s just a matter of showing that to the world.”

COLE CUSTER CONTINUED -- HOW WAS YOUR OFFSEASON DIFFERENT GOING TO CUP?  “I think the biggest thing was just getting used to the whole team.  There are a lot of new people to look at and get used to and just trying to figure out what they fought in the past with this package and stuff like that, just trying to prepare yourself is the biggest thing.  On the XFINITY side I already knew what to expect.  I had been doing it for three years, so I knew what I wanted to do when I got to Daytona and all the other tracks, but now it’s kind of like all these other guys have a back story of how they got to this point.  I have to figure out and go backwards and figure out how to understand what’s happening and why we’re doing things and what I need to do on the race track.”

HOW DO YOU DO THAT?  “It’s just looking at notes and then also looking at a lot of past races and seeing what different guys did during the races and stuff like that.”

DO YOU KNOW WHAT KIND OF CAR YOU HAVE FOR THE 500?  “We tried to focus a little bit more on handling, but honestly, I thought for qualifying our speed was pretty good.  For 14th that was better than I expected, so I don’t know.  I feel like everybody at the shop has worked extremely hard.  They’ve put a lot of effort into all of our cars, so I think there’s no reason why we can’t be a contender late in the race, but it’s a matter of taking it one step at a time and just working up to it.”

WILL YOU RACE HARD IN THE DUELS OR BE CONSERVATIVE?  “The stage points are only at the end of the race, right?  So I think it’s just a matter of trying to make it through the start of the race and then at the end of the race you’re gonna go hard.  Up until then, you’re gonna want to be pretty clean because it’s a matter of you don’t want to take yourself out early.  I think you’ll get a little aggressive when there are points on the line though.”

MANUFACTURER ALLIANCES HAVE BEEN BIG AT PLATE RACES THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS.  DO YOU SEE THAT CONTINUING?  “Yeah, I think so.  That’s definitely another thing I’ve been trying to figure out too is how everyone works together and how that dynamic kind of works.  It’s been interesting.  There are so many moving parts in the draft that it’s hard to really have a set out plan of what’s gonna happen, but at the end of the day you push your teammates and you push your manufacturer and that’s what it comes down to at the end of the day.”

DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE IN THE DRAFT AND IN THESE RACES?  “It’s something you get better at as you go and you get more comfortable with it.  Starting out there are a lot of new things going on and things are moving really fast, but as it goes you get more and more used to it, so it’s just a matter of doing that as fast as you can so you can start making aggressive moves, but Daytona and superspeedways in general have not been good to me.  I think I have one top 10 in the XFINITY Series on superspeedways, but it’s just a matter of somehow avoiding the big wrecks and hopefully being there at the end of the day.”

COLE CUSTER CONTINUED -- WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR THIS TO BE A SUCCESSFUL YEAR?  “I think we want to make the playoffs.  I think be competitive is the biggest thing, run in the top 10, run in the top five.  It’s just going out there and we have cars that can be competitive and a team that can be competitive, and it’s just a matter of getting me there and taking it one step at time and building up to it as fast we can.”


Ron Fleshman

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2020, Issue 2, Posted 9:06 PM, 02.12.2020