In the Hot Seat with Joey Logano

Another NASCAR Playoffs appearance makes Joey Logano smile. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Another NASCAR Playoffs appearance makes Joey Logano smile. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

For the past 13 years, Joey Logano impresses with his exciting, old school racing style in the NASCAR Cup Series. Indeed, the 31-year-old Middletown, Conn. native trades paint with the best in Cup as a consistent frontrunner.

In particular, Logano’s career truly skyrocketed once he joined Team Penske in 2013. Before this season, Logano averaged a championship standing of 5.75, a sign of remarkable consistency.

Certainly, Logano knows all about winning a championship when he emerged triumphant in 2018. Of course, like most young racers, Logano persevered through trials and tribulations before achieving NASCAR immortality.

Presently, Logano chases his second NASCAR Cup Series championship with his seventh Playoffs appearance. Moreover, the Nutmeg State racer pairs up with crew chief Paul Wolfe for a second consecutive season.

Above all else, Logano is one of the most accomplished stock car racers in today’s field. With 27 Cup race victories, including the 2015 Daytona 500 and 2021 Bristol Dirt Race, the sky’s the limit for this young racer.

Before last Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400, Logano took a moment to talk about his season, career accomplishments and more. Now, for the first time ever here with The Podium Finish, let’s get “In the Hot Seat with Joey Logano!”

Rob Tiongson : Ahead of the Playoffs, you scored a historical win at the Bristol Dirt Race. How would you evaluate your season to date in terms of strengths and areas of opportunities?

In general, Joey Logano showcases his versatile skills at Charlotte. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

In general, Joey Logano showcases his versatile skills at Charlotte. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Joey Logano : Any time you win at Bristol, it’s special. I’ve been able to win a Bristol night race a couple times, but winning a dirt race, yeah, it’s special obviously. It’s up there.

Can you compare it to the Daytona 500? I don’t think you really can. Daytona, Brickyard, Southern 500, Bristol, they’re all big races, right?

They’re all kind of crown jewels that we look at. Coke 600 I’d put in that as well. It’s definitely a big race to win, definitely one you want to have on your bucket list. Winning on dirt, that’s something special.

You say now I won on superspeedways, short tracks, and dirt tracks. That’s kind of a neat thing to put on your resume, I guess.

Our 550 stuff is a weakness. We need to continue to work at that to try to understand where we’re off there. I wouldn’t say we’re way off, but we’re not in contention to win yet with those races. Just got to keep looking at it and trying to figure out where that’s at.

Tiongson : You’ve now been a part of the Ford Racing and Team Penske family for the past eight years. What’s it mean to you to represent two prestigious brands so closely linked to motorsports and the automobile industries?

Logano : It’s great. You think of those brands and where we just were in Michigan. We were in the backyard of both of them. They’re both amazing brands and I think they’re both based on performance. And I think that’s what makes them so special. You look at Ford’s heritage and how they started, racing and expecting excellence.

You look at what Roger Penske stands for and all of his businesses as well and especially with the racing side. It’s all about performance. He wants to win and that’s what we have to do. I think when we you put all of that together, it’s kind of a match made in heaven for Penske and Ford. But also Joey Logano and Team Penske and Ford. It’s what I expect out of a team and what I’d want around me.

Tiongson : Entering your second season with crew chief Paul Wolfe, what has he brought to the table that you feel has made you and your team a consistent frontrunner each race weekend?

"He’s not afraid to take chances, make big swings at adjustments and that’s huge with the way we’re racing right now." - Joey Logano on crew chief Paul Wolfe. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

“He’s [Paul Wolfe] not afraid to take chances, make big swings at adjustments and that’s huge with the way we’re racing right now.” – Joey Logano on crew chief Paul Wolfe. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Logano : I feel like together with what Paul and his team bring to the 750 tracks, we’ve been able to make some significant gains, really, that’s helped the entire company. Paul was a racer. So he approaches things sometimes a little bit different than an engineering minded crew chief would.

I think it’s certainly been a struggle at times without having practice because we really never did get in the time together. So, we’ve had to have extra communication during the week to build a notebook together on what works and what doesn’t. But he’s not afraid to take chances, make big swings at adjustments and that’s huge with the way we’re racing right now.

Tiongson : The topics of mental health and mental health optimization gained momentum with various global athletes like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles speaking out about these. How important has optimizing your mental health been in a high pressure, high stakes industry like NASCAR?

"There’s really no losing that’s there. As an individual and as a team, you’re gonna be stronger." - Joey Logano (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

“There’s really no losing that’s there. As an individual and as a team, you’re gonna be stronger.” – Joey Logano (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Logano : I think that’s the name of the game. All of us have talent. All of us are physically fit. The difference is how you mentally engage with yourself, your team and how you handle the pressure that is the playoffs. And that’s different for everyone. And you have to find your own way.

Any advice I give or say doesn’t mean it’s the right way for you. It’s just what I’ve found that works for me. The only way you kind of find it is to put yourself in those positions. That’s the best part about experience. That’s what experience means. You’ve been put in those spots before and you know how to handle it.

You’ve become stronger because of it. And that’s what makes the playoffs so exciting is that you either win or you become stronger. There’s really no losing that’s there. As an individual and as a team, you’re gonna be stronger because you’ve gone through a high-pressure moment.

Tiongson : Having raced for two NASCAR Hall of Fame team owners, how has the Penske way changed your life on and off the track?

Make no mistake that Joey Logano appreciates the Penske way. (Photo: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

Make no mistake that Joey Logano appreciates the Penske way. (Photo: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

Logano : It’s cleaned me up a little bit. I shave my face more often. (laughs) We always say it’s the Penske way.

What does that mean? Well, I think just looking at us is kind of how you can tell – how we want to set ourselves apart from the others, whether that starts from the way we look, the way our cars look, the performance we bring, the integrity that we bring to the sport. Doing things in the right way and not taking short cuts. That’s the Penske way in my opinion.

Tiongson : During the pandemic, your foundation has still made a difference with children and young adults. As we’re looking toward the new normal, what are some initiatives that your foundation is working on this year and how can fans continue to help?

Logano : There are still a lot of families who are struggling from setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re focusing our efforts at the Joey Logano Foundation on raising money to help organizations in communities around the country who are already providing much needed relief to families and kids in crisis.

Stronger together isn’t just a feel good saying, it’s true. We’ve found great success partnering our resources with strong organizations who have great plans and missions.

Tiongson : It’s no secret that you enjoy classic and fast cars such as the Hertz Ford Mustang as seen a few years ago on Pawn Stars Among the ones you’ve driven or worked on, which are among your favorite?

Ultimately, Joey Logano likely loves his No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. (Photo: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

Ultimately, Joey Logano likely loves his No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. (Photo: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

Logano : I like fast cars, they’re fun. I’ve got a Ford GT and it’s a great car, but I do enjoy some of the older cars as well. I’ve got a Fox Body Mustang that I love driving, really powerful car. A Factory Five truck with a Cup motor in it, probably the fastest street legal vehicle I own, the power to weight ratio is ridiculous. The guys at Roush Yates Engines built me a great piece for that truck.

Editor’s Notes

Special thanks to Joey Logano for taking the time for this latest “In the Hot Seat” interview series on The Podium Finish. Also, thanks to Dan Zacharias and Campbell Marketing & Communications for making this interview possible. You can keep track of Joey Logano on his official website, Facebook and Twitter accounts and here on TPF!

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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