In 2007, Middletown, Conn.’s Joey Logano was racing in the NASCAR Busch East Series – it’s now the Xfinity Series – and the 10th race of the season’s 13 was the Mohegan Sun 200 at Lime Rock Park. Just a week before, Logano had graduated from his Skip Barber Three Day Racing School. Not only did Logano win the Mohegan Sun 200, he went on to take the 2007 title, winning five races. (Photo: Joey Logano in Lime Rock's Lefthander, 2007)
A couple years later, Skip Barber caught up with Logano and they had a nice conversation about road racing. Motorsports writer Shawn Courchesne, who now runs racedayct.com, wrote up the transcript.
Following you'll find some very interesting reading... and congratulations, Joey, on winning the Daytona 500, from all your followers at Lime Rock Park!
Skip Barber: You didn't do go karts. What do you think about that?
Joey Logano: I don't know, I go back and forth on that. I did the quarter-midgets because my mom wouldn't let me do karts. You don't do any road courses with quarter-midgets. Only did asphalt, not dirt.
SB: When it came time to do the road racing, was school first?
JL: Yes, I did a few things. Went to Bondurant first. And then ran Camping World in Sonoma, then did the Skip Barber School here... I wrecked! (LOL). Then the Lime Rock Camping World race. Then the Watkins Glen Nationwide race. Then Sears Point in Sprint Cup this year.
SB: How do you think you are as a road racer if you put yourself up against a Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Boris Said?
JL: I'm not where I need to be yet. I don't expect to be there. They have been doing it a lot longer. I felt like at Sears Point, I was closer to where I needed to be. Watkins Glen was ok, but I didn't run so great. Need to figure out the different tracks. Going to the Glen tonight to figure out the course...
SB: What do you need most? Knowledge? Set-up? Driving?
JL: There are differences between. Some of its tires, some of its drivers. The biggest thing is knowing what you want when you get to the track. Same thing applies to a road course. Where are you getting beat? What corners do you need to focus on? That's a big deal. A driver needs to know where you want to be, figure out the tricks of the track.
SB: Who can you talk to about all that?
JL: Watch old tapes, talk to Denny [Hamlin], Kyle [Busch], [Mike McLaughlin]. Ask a lot of questions. I play track video games. All the little things add up. It makes a big difference to be prepared. You must be on you're A Game.
SB: When you get to the Glen, try to do a couple of laps on the long course. It's great, it's complicated... So what are you doing tomorrow at the Glen?
JL: Not sure what I'm driving, maybe a Miata. It's all about learning the race track. I have to figure something out. Didn't run well there before.
SB: It's great that you ended up with Gibbs. Did that fall out of the sky?
JL: I was with Roush almost, trying to make a deal work. Looked around, talked to a few teams. Went to Gibbs, had a video, got his father involved, and thought it was great. A week later, had a contract signed, that was it. No agent, just me and my dad. That's how we still do it.
SB: That's great....What would you tell a new kid, you a couple of years ago, coming here to Lime Rock with no road racing experience?
JL: If you've never seen a road course, the Skip Barber Racing School helped; the biggest thing is the cars are so different. Indy-type car to a big stock car. Talking to a lot of different people. Learning different techniques on a road course. Then try to learn the race track. Take in good and bad advice. Sort through and take what you can use and apply to your main game plan. It's not easy and it makes it tougher for an oval driver to come over and do that especially when it's not often on the schedule.
SB: In the School, a long time ago, we saw the difficulty wasn't oval to road course. It was dirt to asphalt. What do you think the biggest surprise is on a road course? Do you get in trouble if it's a slow corner?
JL: If you're a short track racer, you will be used to it. I relate road course racing to short track racing. You're always right up on each other. Swinging the car back and forth. Different feeling then a speedway. I ran dirt a few times and it's completely backwards from everything else I've done. I'm sure that's difficult.
SB: Those guys are all about car control, not thinking about the line. Example: I saw Tony Bettenhausen going down the Downhill. It was great seeing him going sideways, but he wasn't even near the apex!... Where is NASCAR now about racing in the rain. Is there going to be any road racing in the rain?
JL: I did the one in Canada, Montreal. That was in the rain. Nationwide car. I was at the Nationwide shop today and they were getting ready for the rain, putting on wipers.
SB: You know Joey, there are guys that actually like running in the rain!
JL: I don't want to say it was fun, it was wet, odd and crazy. Every lap the track was different. You can't let your confidence build up. Being able to see, that was a big deal. It's hard when you're not ready. Wipers didn't do anything. And the rain line is different from regular line.
SB: Yep, you have to avoid the puddles... One time at Watkins Glen, on the front straight, I didn't see a puddle. I hit it with one side of a sports car, completely spun and ended up going in the direction I was supposed to go, like nothing happened...
JL: Oh yeah, it's nuts. What happened to me in Canada, I was running third. Rain was so bad, the car in front of me had no brake light and I couldn't see it. Finally saw it going at 55-60 and ran right into the back of him – running third! – and finished 20-something.
SB: Joey, in the Montreal race, did you talk to someone about the rain line? Or did you have to fend for yourself?
JL: The only thing I heard, if you run in the rubber where the typical line is, it's too slippery and there is not a lot of grip.
Shawn Courchesne: Joey, if you could ask one question of Skip...
JL: If we were at the race track, I would ask you a million questions. You wouldn't be able to get away from me! All that is on my mind is about racing.
SB: Yeah, join the crowd...
JL: Lime Rock is really fun. The Uphill was great. I enjoyed that area of the track.
SB: We're fancy here at Lime Rock. We have clever names. The Uphill. And that's before the Downhill...