Penske Racing Media Teleconference featuring Joey Logano and Tim Cindric MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Merrill Cain with Penske Racing. We appreciate everyone joining us for this special Penske Racing media teleconference.
It was announced yesterday that Joey Logano will join the Penske Racing organization in 2013 as he will begin a multiyear agreement to drive the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Joey will join Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford team to form a potent Cup Series combination for Penske Racing next season.
We're excited to be joined by both Joey Logano and Penske Racing president Tim Cindric to discuss the announcement.
We'll begin by getting some opening comments from both Joey and Tim and then open it up to questions from the media.
Joey, please talk about the opportunity to join Penske Racing, as a driver that's experienced a lot of success at a young age with two Cup Series wins and 15 Nationwide Series victories at just 22 years of age, why do you think is a right move at this stage of your career?
JOEY LOGANO: I think it's a great opportunity to work with Roger Penske and have a great teammate like Brad Keselowski. He played a really big role in getting me in here, getting the meeting with Roger. I think working with the 22 team with Shell Pennzoil I think is a great opportunity for me to go out there and try to win some races and try to win some championships.
MODERATOR: Tim, Joey certainly seems like great fit for Penske Racing. Can you talk about what the organization sees in him and how you envision Joey fitting into the team's strong Cup Series program beginning next season.
TIM CINDRIC: First of all, it's a great opportunity to hire someone like Joey. He's presented himself well on and off the track. He's a proven winner at all levels. As we endeavor to continue to build a multi car team of winning cars, I think he's a good fit for us, for sure.
MODERATOR: Now we'll take some media questions for Joey and Tim.
Q. Tim, where does this leave Sam (Hornish Jr.) with Penske Racing and plans for the future?
TIM CINDRIC: Obviously Sam has done a great job for us, picking up where we needed to go from Daytona onwards.
I think we continue to see him grow in his abilities as a Cup driver, working with (crew chief) Todd Gordon and the guys. I think you saw that this weekend at Atlanta. I think we'll continue to move that forward.
He's going to continue to drive the 22 car for the remainder of the year. We've continued to work on putting a Cup program together for Sam; we just haven't been able to close that process yet.
I foresee Sam driving for us a full season Nationwide next year and hopefully some Cup races, as well.
Q. Joey, what was the relationship with Kyle (Busch) and Denny (Hamlin) like? How has it been this season? Throwing it ahead, joining a guy like Brad (Keselowski), can you match him on the track and out Tweet him off and on the track?
JOEY LOGANO: My relationship with Kyle and Denny has been really good. We've worked really good over there to help improve our cars. I felt like I've seen something just as good over here with Brad. I've had a really good relationship with him even before we were teammates. Talked about things, bounced ideas off him, what he thinks.
He was the one that called me and said, “Hey, you might want to talk about this. This is a great opportunity for you.”
That means a lot, to have a teammate that really wants you there, that you can work together with. He's been doing a great job. To come in here and see what he's been doing, try to learn from him, hopefully we can learn from each other and make each other better racecar drivers and make our teams the best we possibly can.
Q. Joey, when did you feel like that you were not going to stay at Joe Gibbs Racing, and when you knew they hired Matt (Kenseth) did it feel kind of like a kick in the gut, so to speak?
JOEY LOGANO: We had kind of seen it coming. There were rumors about it for a while. There's been rumors for the last three years. It's in my best interest to be proactive, look out there and see what's out there. It's a great opportunity for me to come here and have a fresh new start, work with a lot of people. It's going to be a lot of fun.
I'm excited for the opportunity and I think we're going to do great things.
Q. Joey has been successful in the Nationwide Series this year. Do you have any plans for him in that series?
TIM CINDRIC: We'd like to put together some races for him. We haven't gotten that far yet. I see Joey driving some Nationwide races for us next year as well. When you see he and Kyle race each other as hard as they have in the past, that's a good gauge for us as well to understand where he stacks up in that kind of environment.
I foresee that happening, for sure.
Q. How much did that play a role in you hiring him versus what he's done on the Cup side?
TIM CINDRIC: Well, it was certainly influential. Again, I think the fact that he's won at the Cup level puts him apart from a lot of guys that were available for the 22 seat.
He's someone I'd actually approached J.D. Gibbs about I don't know if Joey knows it or not last year when we were looking to hire a driver for the 22. So he was somebody certainly on our radar screen even before this situation.
Q. Joey, both you and Brad are really talented but relatively young. There's a good thing about combining two young guys, but challenges of a veteran to guide you guys. Do you think at this stage of your career that you two younger guys, that that works without a veteran player in another car on that team?
JOEY LOGANO: I think it works really good. Brad and I started our Cup careers at the same time, we’ve been able to grow and go through a lot of similar things.
I'm sure with him being in a different organization, we can compare notes and work together, I think being young is something in common that we have. We're able to work the friendship out through that.
Like I said earlier, we already have that relationship that we can talk and call each other, see each other at the racetrack, talk about whatever. Those relationships with driver teammates are more important than most people think.
Q. It is exciting to watch two relatively younger guys. Tim, can you comment on that as well. Is it exciting to see two new young guys? Do you feel like you need a veteran, that one older guy on the team?
TIM CINDRIC: To be honest with you, we didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the veteran versus the younger situation. I think we focused a bit more on the chemistry between the two. It was obvious.
Again, as I said before, Brad had come to us last year and mentioned Joey's name. It felt as though he was certainly somebody he could work well with. That chemistry I think is so important to not only have the crew chiefs and guys that can work together, but have the drivers that can communicate.
Off the track, they need to be the ones helping the team go forward together rather than forcing the other people internally to pick a side. It needs to be Penske Racing. Once they get out on the racetrack, they can obviously sort out who wins the race.
That's a big positive to this situation, the relationship that those two guys have developed.
Q. Joey, yesterday J.D. Gibbs was saying they approached you to do a full time Nationwide and partial Cup (program) with idea of you regrouping for a year and moving up to Cup in 2014. Was there ever any thought before this opportunity became available of accepting that or doing some plan like that? What was your thought about doing that?
JOEY LOGANO: Well, we had all of my options. I think it's the smartest thing to do. But I made it clear to him I wanted a full time Cup ride and I feel like I'm capable of doing that, going out there and winning races.
When this opportunity came up, it just seems like it's a perfect match, it fits in perfectly. I couldn't have chosen a better place to come to and continue my career.
Q. Tim, there's been so much turmoil the last two years with the 22 car. Working with a guy that's not been a troublemaker, how important was that in the figuring here?
TIM CINDRIC: Well, his character is proven. I think we're fortunate to have a guy like Sam as well driving the 22 for us with everything going on right now. I think Sam and Joey, they represent the brands very well and Penske Racing very well. It's certainly a positive and something that I think we certainly have to get right as we go forward.
It's our responsibility to ensure that that happens. We're confident that Joey will represent that as well as anyone else.
Q. Joey, did Brad call you first? Did Tim call you first?
JOEY LOGANO: There was a lot of back and forth. Like I said earlier, I think Brad and I had a relationship over the past few years that we've talked about things. It's all happened fairly quick, probably within a month, once I kind of realized what my situation was where I'm at now. Being able to talk to people and weigh out the options and come up with the best plan for my future, it came along pretty quickly.
Q. Tim, when you approached Gibbs last year, did you get authorization to talk to (Joey) then? Did you talk about the 22 ride last year?
TIM CINDRIC: When I spoke to J.D., he said it was true that he didn't have something after the next year, but there were rumors at that point they were possibly going to release (Joey) early or whatever else. He said that wasn't true at all.
His response to me was that he wanted to do whatever he could to keep Joey in the fold long term. He saw Joey at that time as the youth in the organization and wanted to be able to find a place for him.
I still believe that's true. It just didn't work out. So I think at that point in time we wanted to ensure that that wasn't something that we could pursue. That was really it. We respect the organization and didn't take it any further.
Q. Sam's future, is it possible you could put together a third Sprint Cup car for him next year?
TIM CINDRIC: That would certainly be our first preference, a third full time Cup car. It's pretty late in the season. The potential we had for that in terms of sponsorship, they haven't come to fruition yet. I think you'll see him in a couple (Cup) races for sure. We haven't been able to build on that. We haven't been able to get more than a couple races at this time.
As far as a full season Nationwide, that's what I envision happening for sure.
Q. Joey, before the 22 ride opened up a couple of months ago, did you have anything else besides Gibbs or was Gibbs looking like your primary option for 2013?
JOEY LOGANO: At that point it was still really early in the season. Even now there's still a lot of racing to go that we still need to be focused on, trying to win Richmond.
There were other options that I was able to look at, and more came up as time went by. There's obviously a lot of free agents out there this year. As one domino falls, the next one falls and everything becomes a bit clearer for you as the time goes.
Q. Joey, I was curious if there was ever a time when you thought you would not have a Cup ride for 2013? You see guys like (Brian) Vickers out there, (David) Reutimann. Did you feel like you'd be in the same position?
JOEY LOGANO: No, I felt fairly confident the whole time I was going to come up with something. You never know what's going to happen. Everything happens for a reason, for sure. I think this is the best opportunity for my career right now.
Does it cross your mind? It may have once. But really I was always fairly confident that for sure something was going to come up. I've been in a competitive Cup car going out there winning races.
Q. Tim, could you say how many drivers did you consider for this spot? Can you tell us how many years the deal is for?
TIM CINDRIC: The deal is multi year. Like anything else, it's not always the easiest way to go through it all, but it's multi year. That's pretty much all we say in those situations.
I think as far as other drivers, I think Roger (Penske) was pretty outspoken in the press about all the attention that the 22 car had been given from the driver community because it's obviously a great sponsor to represent. It's one of the few that is represented on a consistent basis throughout the year. I think there's good opportunity on and off the track there.
So I think from a consideration standpoint, we consider them all. We go and we look for what we think is going to be the most successful. But obviously as some of you guys have pointed out in this call, there was extra sensitivity that we had about having somebody with the right character in the car, as well.
Q. Joey, you came into NASCAR with a lot of external pressures on your shoulders. Do you feel that you met your own expectations at Gibbs?
JOEY LOGANO: I think the way I am personally, I think I work very hard and I expect a lot out of myself. I don't think I ever accomplished everything I always want to because I'm shooting for the moon. I think if you shoot for a top 10 finish, the best you're ever going to do is get a top 10 finish. You're always wanting more. They call me greedy, but I think that's the competitiveness in me, to always want to be better.
When I started in the Cup Series, I got thrown into it at a very young age with very, very little experience, not knowing what I was getting myself into. I learned a lot. I feel I am at a point in my career that I know what it takes to go out there and do it.
I feel like this gives me a fresh start to come here at Penske with Shell Pennzoil, try to put everything I learned to the best use I know how to, to do the best I can.
Q. Tim, did you sense a fresh start is exactly what Joey needs to become a consistent winner?
TIM CINDRIC: Well, I don't know. I think it's hard to understand someone's situation from afar. Really, we kind of know what we read and what we see.
But the dynamics inside the team are a lot different than what the perception is. It's hard to make a judgment on that.
I felt like, and obviously Roger did, Brad did, really the other members of the our team – Mike Nelson, Travis (Geisler) – what Joey just seemed like from the outside and from that point in his career we felt that we could hopefully provide him with an environment that he could be successful in and continue to grow his confidence.
We've been able to win with the Shell Pennzoil car before and we think we can continue to do that and feel like he's the right fit for it.
Q. Tim, what can you tell us about any possible changes with the 22 team for next year? Do you anticipate everything else staying in place, crew chief?
TIM CINDRIC: This is the first step, to determine who the driver is. I spoke to (crew chief) Todd (Gordon) and the team yesterday when we made the announcement. I think it's really a matter of trying to understand what the right chemistry is and the right fit. We're going to evaluate that.
Joey hasn't had an opportunity to know any of the guys. We have time before we have to make those decisions. I'm not prepared to say everything is going to stay the same, but I'm also not prepared to say we're going to change anything. I know that's probably not what you want in terms of decisiveness.
Todd, he's a team player for sure, has been since he has been here and continues to be. I think collectively we'll sit down and decide what the right steps are. It's going to be a little while before we get to that point.
Q. Joey, you've done well in the Nationwide Series. You haven't won as many races as you would like in Cup. Can you talk about what it is there? Is it a car thing? A team thing? Can you talk about the disparity that you've had there.
JOEY LOGANO: I think it's everything you just said. It's very different over there. Obviously the competition level is up there. A lot more guys out there capable of winning every week. I think that's some of it.
I think as a driver I had a lot to learn in the Cup Series on how to drive the car, go through the strategy, how to work with people, become a leader. I had a lot to learn there. I think on the team side, there was always some stuff there that we can always work out and improve on.
There's always improvements anyplace you look at. You just have to be smart about your decisions and make things the best you possibly can to go out there and win.
There is plenty of differences for sure. It is tough in the Cup Series because we're racing the best drivers in the country out there every week. It's not going to be easy, but it does mean a lot more when you do go out there and win.
Q. Joey, you talked about Brad having a big role. Can you expand on that? How did he help you as this process went along?
JOEY LOGANO: For the short time that I've been here, (I’ve) been able to listen to Tim and the guys, listening to how involved Brad is in the day to day stuff here at Penske is awesome. I'd like to be as involved as he is, be able to work together.
He was pretty involved in getting me here, for sure, as I think he is in most decisions that happen here at Penske.
Q. When you first met Roger Penske and talked with him, what did you think of Roger? Did he intimidate you at all?
JOEY LOGANO: He has a capability to intimidate you, for sure. Once we sat down and started talking, he's a great guy. It's an honor to work for someone that has won as many races on different levels and different types of cars. It's pretty awesome to see. Obviously the stuff he's done on the business side of his corporation is amazing.
He has the ability to intimidate you if he wanted to. He's a down to earth guy, somebody that is very involved in his racing stuff. He wants to know what's going on all the time. He's called me a few times. He called me last night to make sure everything is going smooth.
I think it's cool to have an owner that's that involved, cares, and knows what's going on.
Q. Joey, we've heard the term “fresh start” used a few times. It seems kind of odd that a 22 year old guy needs a “fresh start.” Can you tell me what that means to you?
JOEY LOGANO: I am 22, but I've been doing this for a while now. Like I said earlier, I feel like I've gone through a lot of stuff where I'm at and being able to learn a lot of things.
This gives you a fresh start to put those to use with no history behind you or anything. Like when I say, fresh start – you're coming in with your guns loaded, everything you know, making the best out of it right off the bat.
It's going to be exciting meeting a bunch of new people and trying to learn how things work and put my two cents in where I can.
Q. Putting your two cents in, having your opinion matter, do you think your voice was really heard or were you really able to express yourself at JGR? Do you think that situation is going to change for the better in the current situation you're going to be in?
JOEY LOGANO: I was always able to express my opinion and my voice was heard for sure. I think it will be even more here. I think being able to be as involved as they let their drivers be here, being able to work with Brad that much, I think my voice will be even louder here, which hopefully that's a good thing for them (laughter).
Q. Joey, I know you weren't feeling good last weekend. Once this announcement is over, is the weight off your shoulders? What are you thinking about rolling ahead to the next couple weeks?
JOEY LOGANO: Thinking about going out there and winning races. This is a do or die weekend for us in Richmond. If we win, we're in. If we don't, we're going to be going for a 13th place points finish. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do this weekend, kind of whatever it takes.
We'll see what happens. Richmond has been a good racetrack for me in the past, but our spring race wasn't what we wanted out of it. Hopefully with some notes that we learned there, Jason (Ratcliff) coming there for a second time with the Cup car, should help us out there some, too. Hopefully we can go out there and win this thing.
There wouldn't be a better way to complete this week. It's been a great week being able to announce this, getting that weight off my shoulders. If you can get in the Chase, it takes some weight off your shoulders, but puts some on trying to go out there and win the championship after that.
Q. Joey, any kind of distraction with all this going on leading up to the last two weeks? A little debate last week whether Jeff Gordon should have knocked Denny out of the way to get the win and get in the Chase. If Kyle or Denny were ahead of you, any question about what you would do?
JOEY LOGANO: Has it been a distraction? Yes and no. It's been tough not to talk about it to you guys. You guys do a great job asking questions.
But once this deal is done, it's really all about racing. I feel like I did a good job at the racetrack on being able to focus in on my racecar and not think about this and during the week being able to think about my future as much as I can. That was tough.
As far as going into this weekend and doing what we got to do to win, I think I answered that question. I've got to do whatever it takes to win.
Q. Tim, could you talk about in evaluating Joey, how much do you look at the results from the last four years versus potential and upside, comparing that upside versus other drivers?
TIM CINDRIC: Well, certainly when you go back to the overall situation, I can't say enough about how supportive Shell Pennzoil has been through a little bit of this turmoil we've been in over the last, whatever it's been, nine months. I think we had to be even more in concert with them than we've ever been with a sponsor in trying to understand what the steps are to ensure we get it right.
I think you have to look at the statistics for sure. Joey has won at the Cup level, that's a big help. When you look at his statistics and you compare them to guys like Brad that are moving up and have similar experience levels, Brad has hit his stride in a lot of ways. We feel like, going back to the word “potential,” Joey has a similar potential for progression in our environment.
I think we've been able to prove that both cars are capable of winning. We did that last year. We think we can continue to do that. It's the same people we had winning races with both cars. In a lot of ways we can continue to build on some of that success, but just needed the right fit.
When you do it with statistics, when you look at what Brad has done over the last three and a half, four years, you look at what Joey has been able to do, when you look at the average starts and finishes, that type of thing, I think that it just adds up to say, look, from an overall perspective, he was the right guy for us.
Q. J.D. Gibbs said yesterday that he didn't think there would be (a chance) that Joey would get in the 22 car at all this year. I'm curious if Joey didn't make the Chase whether you would try to make that happen?
TIM CINDRIC: It's not something we've really even considered. I think I'd probably have to agree with J.D. It would be a pretty complicated situation. I think all of our sights are set on starting 2013 fresh in Daytona. Obviously we're making the move to Ford, so we have a lot of things that are going to be different in terms of 2013.
We have a consistent group in Paul Wolfe and Brad. We can keep the consistency. Hopefully we're talking about a championship at that point in time, as well.
Q. Joey, you noted all those rumors you faced every year in Cup. What impact does that have as a competitor going into work hearing that you might be replaced?
JOEY LOGANO: I've become pretty tough over the last few years. I've been dealt a couple tough hands when it comes to stuff like that, hearing the rumors. Most of those rumors aren’t probably true that you hear.
You definitely learn how to be tough, how to stay confident. At first that was very difficult for me because I didn't know how to do that. I had some help with that, surrounded myself with good people to help me deal with that, dig yourself out of a hole. I feel like we were able to do that this year.
Going out there and winning those Nationwide races helps your confidence level a lot. That's personally why I love running Nationwide races. They're a lot of fun to run and you're able to learn a lot for the Cup race the next day, too. That had a big role in it, too.
MODERATOR: That will conclude this special Penske Racing media conference for this morning. We appreciate everyone's time today, and a special thanks to the members of the press that participated in the call, and to Joey Logano and Tim Cindric for being part of the call today.