Mustang and Joey Logano dominated the competition Saturday, putting the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang in victory lane, and there was never much doubt.
Logano led 176 of the 200 laps, besting Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick for the win, his second career XFINITY series triumph at Phoenix International Raceway.
“I was able to take off faster on restarts and get a nice lead and then Matt’s (Kenseth) car was looser than mine so that is why I was able to get a lead,” Logano noted post-race. “Once we started running a few laps I would get tight and he would start catching up to me because his balance was a little more free. I kept hoping for lap traffic because I was better in traffic and that is where I made up time.”
Logano led pretty much wire to wire after capturing the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day Saturday, only relinquishing the lead for 24 laps to Kenseth (14), Austin Dillion (4) and Brennan Poole (6).
The win marked the first for the 22 team this season and the firs for Greg Erwin as crew chief of the squad.
“I don’t know if it was handling perfectly,” Erwin said. “We came here working a lot off of everything that this team has been able to generate over the last couple of years and I feel like we have been knocking on the door the first couple of races and it was just a matter of time until we stepped through.”
The Roush Fenway Racing quartet all came home in single file, led by Elliott Sadler and his 12th place effort. Ryan Reed (13th), Chris Buescher (14th) and Darrell Wallace Jr., (15th) followed.
“None of us like running outside of the top-10,” Daytona winner Ryan Reed said. “We have the right people, we just have to put the right pieces together and go out there and run better. I am happy for Roush Yates and Ford to get a win today with the 22, so that is cool, but we want to be the ones putting the Ford Mustang in victory lane. It isn’t from a lack of effort. We will keep trying and we will get there.”
Dakoda Armstrong rounded out the Ford effort with an 18th place effort.
Reed leads Ford in the XFINITY point standings with 135, good for third. Wallace ranks fifth (132), Sadler eighth (114) and Armstrong 13th (97).
FORD FINISHING RESULTS
1st Joey Logano
12th Elliott Sadler
13th Ryan Reed
14th Chris Buescher
15th Darrell Wallace Jr.
18th Dakoda Armstrong
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW “We have been so close here the last four races or so, we have been so close to winning an XFINITY race and it is so great to get Discount Tire in victory lane in their home area. I have been driving this car for a few years but haven’t got Discount Tire in victory lane with me driving, so that is a big deal.”
DESCRIBE THE LAST PART OF THIS RACE.“I was able to take off faster on restarts and get a nice lead and then Matt (Kenseth’s) car was looser than mine so that is why I was able to get a lead. Once we started running a few laps I would get tight and he would start catching up to me because his balance was a little more free. I kept hoping for lap traffic because I was better in traffic and that is where I made up time.”
DID YOU NOTICE A DIFFERENCE IN HANDLING IN YOUR CAR, ONLY TWO TIRES THE LAST STOP? “There is always a little bit of a change there but I was able to make the right adjustments for when we put two on and Greg Erwin and all these guys did a great job for me today.”
GREG ERWIN, crew chief, No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – “I don’t know if it was handling perfectly but we came here working a lot off of everything that this team has been able to generate over the last couple of years and I feel like we have been knocking on the door the first couple of races and it was just a matter of time until we stepped through. I gotta thank Discount Tire, Ford and XFINITY and everyone back at the shop. Without all that work we can’t do what we are getting ready to do, celebrate in victory lane.”
RYAN REED, No. 16 Lilly Diabetes/American Diabetes Assoc. Ford Mustang – “None of us like running outside of the top-10. I am proud of the Lilly Diabetes guys. They battled hard all day. We have the right people, we just have to put the right pieces together and go out there and run better. I am happy for Roush Yates and Ford to get a win today with the 22, so that is cool, but we want to be the ones putting the Ford Mustang in victory lane. It isn’t from a lack of effort. We will keep trying and we will get there.”
CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 60 Roush Performance Products Ford Mustang – “We have a little bit of work to do yet. It was a tough day. Hard fought. The guys did a good job on pit road and we got what we could there. We just had a couple little mechanical issues that kind of held us back. We will have to go get ‘em next week.”
JOEY LOGANO POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE – CONGRATULATIONS ON GETTING BACK IN THE WIN COLUMN. “Yeah, it felt good. When I came across the line I thought, finally! It took a long time to get to our next win. We have been finishing second the last four races before this one and we were so close to winning them. Obviously we have a lot of poles and things are going well but we always just needed a little bit more speed. It was awesome to get it today and get Discount Tire in victory lane. I have been driving the Penske car awhile and hadn’t gotten that sponsor in victory lane yet. I learned some things for tomorrow I think, which is good and it is cool to get Greg a win. He has done a great job so far in the races we have worked together. We unloaded yesterday with a lot of speed and was able to fine tune and make adjustments for today’s race and keep our track position with the right strategy calls and be able to win it.”
GREG ERWIN, crew chief, No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – TALK ABOUT YOUR APPROACH THIS WEEKEND. “This has been a new year certainly for the 22 program at Penske. We have about four new people involved in the program and I will consider myself new to the thing. I was in a bit of a helper role last year. It was nice to get all those guys up to speed and I think really the most gratifying, or two things I will take away from today is that we have been in contention to win every race this year. Daytona, Atlanta and certainly last week in Vegas and it means a lot to me knowing how dominant Joey has been over the years in the Nationwide/XFINITY series to be able to kick the door down today. To come here and do it the way we were able to do it, it feels terrific and hopefully those fellas are going to enjoy this one.”
JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED – WHAT ABOUT TOMORROW? WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO BEAT HARVICK? “I wouldn’t say we are the only guy that has the speed to run with him. I wouldn’t saw we are the speed to run with him either. I feel like our last run in Happy Hour made a long run of 25 laps and I feel like we were okay. Then I look at the times and we were just a little bit off still. They have it figured out with that 4 car right now and I have to be able to catch up to them. At least we beat them today, which is good. We have a shot at getting them tomorrow starting on the front row and we will try to lead some laps off the bat there and maintain some track position and race them as hard as we can to beat them. This is his territory for sure so to be able to race with him and try to beat him is going to be a lot of fun and a big challenge but there is no reason we can’t do it. I feel we made some good gains today in practice and we are close. With a couple more adjustments we will be right where we need to be but I feel like in practice we were a top-five car and maybe a little better than that but I feel like we need one more step to be a winning car right now.”
YOU SAID ON THE RADIO YOU LEARNED SOMETHING IN THE MEXICO RACE LAST NIGHT. IS IT SOMETHING YOU CAN APPLY TOMORROW AS WELL? “I didn’t really learn anything. I went into the grandstands and sat with the fans last night and watched the NASCAR Mexico Series and I was laughing because every single lap they go down on the flat in the dogleg back there. I just renamed it the Mexico line. I thought it was hilarious. I don’t know how their cars can do it and not fall apart. You can only do that so many times before you have a concussion. It is tough back there. I thought it was fun just to watch them do that.
LAP TRAFFIC SEEMED DICEY IN THE BEGINNING OF THE RACE. WERE YOU CONCERNED WITH THAT OR DID IT GET BETTER? “There was definitely a lot of cars that weren’t up to speed and it was challenging for sure. You are able to catch them and then you have a hard time figuring out which lane to go because you catch them at such a quick rate, you try to figure out where they are going to go and as the race goes you start to remember what lane they are running and what they are doing and you are able to get around them. As soon as they get two wide in front of you it is kind of like, ‘huh’, there are only a few places to go. There was one point we were four wide into three as the leader and that wasn’t very smart but I did it anyway and it worked out. You have to be so aggressive when you come to the lap traffic. That is where we were able to beat Matt, in lap traffic and on the short run. We were able to check out a little and he started reeling me back in and if it was a clean race track I think he would have gotten to us. Would he have been able to pass us? I don’t know. But because of the lap traffic every time I got to them we were able to get more and when we got clean air he would catch back up. I was able to work lap traffic a lot because of the balance of my car and being able to be aggressive. It worked out well.”
WHAT IS IT THAT TRANSLATES FROM THIS CAR TO THE CUP CAR FOR TOMORROW? “The tire is a little different so to be able to get a run on it and see where it rubbers in and different lanes and the direction the car would go throughout a run. I feel like this track is a good track for me. We have had a lot of speed but we don’t completely have it figured out yet. If we did, we would win every time we were here. I feel there is still some question in my mind of what I need my car to drive like. The more I can race out here the more I get an idea of what I need in practice and what will be a problem for the race and try to work on that. The more laps and more experience I get here I can get faster and give my crew chiefs the right information to make the right adjustments. We are getting closer but it is still good to make these laps and be able to take some things for tomorrow.”
GREG ERWIN CONTINUED – WILL YOU TALK TO TODD GORDON? “I know Todd was probably watching almost every lap today. He is quite the student of the game as well. That is one of the reasons these two are so successful together. I think on our side the platform between the XFINITY cars and the Sprint Cup cars are so different that from a chassis side I don’t expect there is anything Todd will take out of what we did today other than maybe directionally he can look back at what our car and how our car was performing with the balance in practice and how our car fired off today. You can draw some conclusions there and some of the things we thought, now we all have very common adjustments. We can all adjust air pressure, track bar and wedge. Those are the three things that I am sure he is going to key in on and understand which way the track went as it rubbered in and got hot. That will help him. They will do well tomorrow I am sure.”
JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED – DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING AS A DRIVER THAT WILL HELP YOU TOMORROW? “I think the things we just talked about helps as a driver. As a driver I need to do more than just drive the car. I need to understand what makes a fast race car and that might not be the shocks and springs like Greg says. It isn’t all that stuff. It is the feel, the feel you have to have as a driver to make a car go fast and searching for that and communicating with your team. As a driver you have to learn that. I think that means more – I am not going to tell Greg how to set up a race car because that is his job and he is smarter than me thank goodness. We would be in big trouble if not. My job is to give him the information and together make the right decisions on the changes we put in the car and be able to help guide him in the direction I feel is what I need when it comes to the race. As a driver that is my job.”
HAVE YOU USED THE TRACK BAR ADJUST IN YOUR COCKPIT AND ARE YOU SHIFTING MUCH OUT THERE? “I tried it just for the heck of it but you don’t shift a whole bunch. We don’t have the track bar adjust in the XFINITY car but in the Cup race we will play with it for sure. I played with it in practice, yes, just to kind of get a feel for what it is going to do. It is nice to have it I think. I am not sure if Todd likes it that much. It definitely changes the way the race is played out I think a lot of times. I think of this race in the fall and we were up front leading and had an issue on pit road and lost our track position and our car handled completely different because our car was nothing like it was up front. Now you can adjust that to get your balance back to be able to maintain. There is good and bad about that. It can save you but also it kind of takes something different in the race because you don’t really have those cars that are going to be comers and goers and change as you get closer to the front. It takes a little out of the crew chiefs hands a little bit. It is just different. You don’t have to wait til a pit stop to make your adjustment obviously. Whether that makes a better race or not I don’t know. But you have to be able to play that game. You have to be able to work that thing and understand what it does.”
WHAT IS THE SECRET TO BEING THE STUD OF QUALIFYING IN BOTH XFINITY AND SPRINT CUP? “I don’t know. I think when you qualify up front it means you have a fast car which gives you a good shot to win the race and you have track position. There are a lot of good things that come from being on the pole and that helps you win races because you get a good pit stall, you are up front, you can tune to clean air like we just talked about and you are able to kind of dictate to where the race goes a little more than the race choosing for you and what will happen. I think those are all good things. That is probably why most my wins have come from starting up front. Obviously your car is fast to start up there.”