On the heals of a solid season so far, Joey Logano heads into Sonoma Raceway this weekend hoping to keep the positive mojo going.
“I like coming here,” Logano commented. “It’s such a fun race track for us and obviously a change-up for NASCAR to come to these road courses. Sonoma, I always felt is kind of like the short track of road course racing for me. Tire wear is definitely very high too, so that strategy that comes into this race also with people talking about the two-stop or three-stop race, that comes into play there.
“So strategy, passing each other, keeping the fenders on this thing, keeping it on the race track, it’s just such a challenging place and makes it a lot of fun. Usually there about four or five guys that are smiling after the race and everyone else is really mad at each other, so I can’t wait (laughing).”
Over the years, Logano has had mixed success at Sonoma Raceway as he has a pair of top 10s, though he also has finished outside of the top 30. Logano reasons that to be part of the nature of racing on the road course as unexpected things happen, such as getting spun in turn 11.
“When you’re trying to slow down these cars – I’m looking at turn 11 right now – and think about the way you get in there and how fast you’re going to how slow you’ve got to get this thing whao’d up. There’s just a lot of wheel-hopping and something happens down there and you get a lot of issues,” he expressed.
Though while turn 11 may be tough, Logano enjoys going through the esses section of the track in repeated back-to back left and right turns.
“You’ve got to be really slow with the steering wheel and how you transfer the weight from turning to the left back to the right and then back the other way,” Logano explained. “It’s fun too to kind of set up your race car here because you can set up your car for the esses or you set up your car for 11, turn seven, turn four and those areas too and it’s gonna be something completely different. It’s cool when you’re racing cars and you’ve got to figure out where you’re better than them because your car might be good in certain areas and really bad in others and vice versa for them, so it’s hard.”
Usually throughout the day, there aren’t many issues in both spots. However, those issues typically increase as you get into the later stage and Logano attributes that to the fact that both equipment and temper are wearing thin due to breaking throughout the day and trying to keep on track.
“Everything just gets worse throughout the race, so at the end of the race when the intensity level is up and everyone’s car is not handling as well we run into each other,” he commented. “That’s a product of it. That’s why you want to be the guy that’s being aggressive and not the one that’s getting pushed around. That’s important. That’s why you want to make sure you have a fast race car and you’re good in those right areas.”
With the new chase format this year in that a win means you’re basically in, Logano anticipates perhaps more drama this year due to drivers beginning to get desperate.
“They’re starting to get desperate, I’m sure,” he commented. “They’re starting to get to that panic mode at this point in the season and if this is one of those race tracks where you feel you can capitalize on, and you’re close to it, they’re gonna be desperate and they’re gonna do some crazy things out there.
“So that’s why it’s so important to be on the aggressive side. Like I was saying earlier, I want to be the guy pushing. I don’t want to be the guy getting pushed around. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got a car you can do that with because it’s easier said than done. If you’re the guy running up front, and you look at the top three, four, five cars, they will be ones that won’t have many marks on it, so you’ve got to be consistently up there. You’ve got to be patient. You can’t get too fired up, but you’ve got to be the aggressive one and I think those guys that haven’t had the win are gonna get desperate and it’s gonna be either checkers or wreckers for them.”