Thursday, October 09, 2014

Logano Happy In Sprint Cup Catbird Seat

Joey Logano’s ever-present smile is beaming even brighter this week, after locking himself into the Eliminator Round of the Chase For the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a win last weekend at Kansas Speedway.

Coming home to Charlotte for Saturday night’s Bank Of America 500, the Shell/Pennzoil Ford, Logano said he does not miss the pressure of having to advance to the next round of NASCAR’s playoffs.
“It’s nice to know you’re in, because everyone was nervous about this round,” he said. “It’s not the round that’s going to win the championship, but it’s definitely the round that can keep you from winning it. When you think of Kansas and Talladega both being in this round, with Charlotte as your one somewhat-normal race track (where) you feel like you can really make a difference. 
“Our mindset now is basically the same as what we had; to keep going, keep attacking and keep the momentum going.  I feel like we can have a good showing here at Charlotte, and then we don’t have to worry about Talladega as much anymore. When we get to the next round, we’ll try to win Martinsville and hopefully be in the same shoes again.  For now, our mindset is to go out there and win, just like we’ve been doing.”
Despite having teammate Brad Keselowski hovering near the bottom of the Chase standings, Logano said Saturday night’s race will be business as usual for Team Penske.
We’re gonna do what we normally do,” he insisted. “We normally go out there and try to help each other. That’s our goal as a two-car team. We’ve got to work very tight together to make sure both of our cars are fast, and I feel like that’s something we applied to Team Penske a long time ago. 
“(The) main reason why I’m here today, working with Brad, is because we work well together. I think that’s very important to have.  If you’re already doing it, it’s hard to do it more. We’ll do the same things we’ve been doing, working together throughout practice and qualifying, sharing our notes, talking about our race cars as much as we can and then racing each other as smart as we know how to. 
“Talladega is a whole separate deal,” he said. “That’s a different way of working with each other to get to the front, but when you come to a place like Charlotte, there is only so much you can do on the race track to help your teammate.  My goal is still to win. I might be greedy, but I want to win.”
He admitted, however, that having Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on the brink of elimination bolsters his chances to win the Sprint Cup title.
“Everyone that is in (the Chase) right now is a contender for a reason,” he said. “Every one (of them) is someone that can win this championship. But obviously, you look at the guys who have been fast throughout the whole year and you see them in the bottom three right now. That’s pretty surprising.  I’m sure they’re all gonna have good runs this weekend and will rise to the occasion, but this is probably going to be a round that knocks somebody out that can win this championship.
“We’re fortunate enough that it’s not going to be us this time, but as Roger (Penske) likes to say, ‘You can’t trip over your own press clippings.’  I keep working really hard to stay ahead of it, but if you think of (Jimmie Johnson) or one of those guys getting knocked out… it does help your shot a lot.”
The Sprint Cup Series leader said he has not allowed himself to look ahead to the season-finale at Homestead Miami Speedway next month.
“I haven’t thought about it at all,” he said. “I am a race-by-race person and I think the way this Chase goes, you have to think that way. Right now, we’re thinking about Charlotte (and) we’re thinking about our Martinsville test we’ve got coming up this week. (It’s) all about keeping the momentum going, keep the ball rolling, keep everybody motivated, keep the team going and have a good test at Martinsville and hit those Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix races as hard as we can.
“At this point of the Chase, you’re still thinking about the upcoming races before Homestead.”

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