Although he's just 19 and in his second Sprint Cup Series season, Joey Logano has emerged as the top-running driver at Joe Gibbs Racing. Logano heads into Saturday night's race off a second-place finish at Martinsville, Va. He talked about improving and his goals for the future. Here are excerpts of the interview:
Q: You've said you're trying to mirror your driving style after Mark Martin. Now that you've come through two short-track races without any significant damage to your car, is that a fair analogy?
A: Yeah, I feel like I want to be a clean racer. I want people to race me the same way I race them at the same time. I think there's times you need to push back and there's times you need to be smart and finish these things. At Martinsville, we did have a clean-looking car at the race. The front bumper was used up though. Everyone saw at the end of the race, everyone was beating and banging. Yeah, it was pretty crazy. We were right up in there. I feel like there's a time to go and there's a time not to. When you think about a 500-lap race at Martinsville, you don't want to use your car up too early. These days you knock a fender in, that can ruin your whole day. It's going to screw up your aero package and you're going to get tight, or you have a chance of blowing out a tire. You have to be smart, but at the same time you can't get pushed around out there.
Q: You've still had your run-ins. Greg Biffle comes to mind. What do you have to do to earn their respect?
A: I've been trying to figure that out, to be honest with you. I don't have the correct answer. I've asked a lot of people what their opinions were. Everyone has a different one. You know, I think that's something when things happen, you just remember it. I've always been a firm believer of race people the way they race you. If someone races you hard, you just race them hard. Do the same thing they did to you. I think you earn that respect back.
Q: You were signed at a young age by Joe Gibbs and you've been under the media microscope since. What are the highs of lows of growing up like that?
A: I guess I don't really know a different way of it. To me, that's just the way it was. You know, I was fine being in the spotlight and all that. Like you said, I was 16 or 15 running Pro Cup cars. Everyone was always, Hey, this young kid, this and that, put the spotlight on you. You know, you look at that two different ways. It puts more pressure on you as a kid. I've grown to get used to that because it's only gotten more and more as it kept going. On the other hand, I think it's a really good thing, having that spotlight on you. It brings Joe Gibbs Racing, brings Home Depot, those big names in to help you. I think it's a real big deal to have. It's one of those things I was fortunate enough to have the spotlight on me.
Q: You've won a race and you've been consistent. When will you be considered a veteran?
A: I'm sure it's going to be a while. I'm still 19. I don't think I'm going to reach veteran status for a long time.
Q: Is the learning process a matter of you learning the tracks or learning how other drivers approach each track?
A: ... Every time you get to a race track, I'm sure that every driver has improved from the last time they've been there. Every team is trying to improve, trying new things, trying to make their programs better. A part of it is you're trying to keep up with them and you're trying to catch up that little bit that you're behind.