Q&A: Roger Penske on Joey Logano, NASCAR’s Chase and aggressiveness

Roger Penske
Roger Penske

Roger Penske presides over a NASCAR Sprint Cup that has dominated this season’s Chase.

Team Penske’s Joey Logano has won the first two races in the postseason’s second round (at Charlotte and Kansas), heading to this weekend’s CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Brad Keselowski, the team’s other driver, was on the pole for last week’s race at Kansas Speedway and is seventh in the standings, with the top eight advancing. He’s been successful at Talladega before, winning last season’s fall race at the 2.66-mile track to advance to the third round.

Penske answered questions from reporters after Logano’s victory Sunday at Kansas:

Q. How would you describe Logano’s development as a driver?

A. Joey has stepped up his game tremendously. He’s got confidence, he’s a great driver, and I think that we’ve seen that. He’s won on the road course. He’s won on the big tracks, and there’s no question that we’re very fortunate to have him as one of our drivers. I think that he’s going to be in the sport a long time and win a lot of races.

Q. What was your take of how Logano got past Matt Kenseth to win at Kansas?

A. I saw a couple times Joey got squeezed off of (Turn) 2 and I think over in 3, and as they went down into 1, Joey had a fender up inside – he was on the outside of (Kenseth), and he got in the wall. I don’t know if you saw that or not, and then he turned down, Joey did, to take the lower lane, and there was another car up there, I think a slower car, and then Kenseth came down.

Unfortunately they got together. I don’t like to see that any more than anybody else does. It’s one of those racing accidents that’s real tough when it’s in this kind of a situation. But there was no question that Kenseth was doing everything he could to keep Joey from going by.

If you go back and you look at it frame by frame, I don’t think you can say that Joey just ran into him on purpose. I think there was movement on (Kenseth) coming down on him, and certainly when we got into the wall, we didn’t run into the wall in Turn 2 just because we wanted to.

Q. What do you think of the recently changed Chase format?

A. The Chase format was designed to create tension, to create competition, and certainly put pressure on the teams from the standpoint of the way they drive on the racetrack. You just have to watch the restarts and see that it’s elbows in and elbows out the window there every time.

Q. How do you prepare Logano for racing that will be more aggressive as the Chase continues?

A. I think that he’s got to race the guys around him. We don’t race the car. We prepare the car and bring it to the track. Each one of these drivers know what the circumstances are, and with that, they’re going to make the moves that are necessary to try to get ahead … that’s what’s going to be the pattern as we go for the next four or five races.

Q. Do you have any concerns about Keselowski advancing to the next round?

A. We have good transparency between the two teams. Brad made a big move (toward the end of the race), and I think that was because we’re sharing data up and down the pit road during the race, and I think (we) will get together and look at what are the things that worked and what didn’t. They’ll use that in their playbook as we go forward. Charlotte Observer