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Penske Perfect: Attention to Detail Could Help Logano Learn IMS Road Course

Having driven for Team Penske’s NASCAR program since 2013, Joey Logano knew how to watch last year’s first NASCAR Xfinity Series road race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with an eye more towards education than entertainment.

Yes, the 62-lap Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard on the 14-turn, 2,439-mile circuit was entertaining – Logano will proclaim it to anyone who hasn’t seen it – but he realized in advance that the owner of the track, Roger Penske, probably had a long-term plan. Because, as most people in motorsport know, Penske always has a plan.

“You had to think that maybe it was a try (for the Cup Series),” said Logano, smiling, during Thursday’s media visit to IMS. “So that was enough for me to make sure I was watching.”

Logano didn’t only learn things from watching NASCAR Second Division drivers compete against each other, especially in the final laps when Chase Briscoe came out of the five-car battle, he loved what he saw. .

“You look at it from a racing fan’s perspective because that’s the most important thing, right? ” he said. “What is it that puts the butt in the seats or makes people watch and listen (on TV)? It’s a great race, and that’s what (this race) provided.

“How did he do that?” It offered good braking zones, which offered good overtaking opportunities. The tire wear (s) meant something because you’ve seen cars slide and slide with the track having some pretty slow sections, but you also have some pretty fast sections, and that adds a lot to that.

“You saw these guys go out three wide (turn 14) and go straight down the front looking at a hard braking zone (on turn 1). Who will drive the hardest?

“It was pretty cool.”

As Logano described, he looked out the window of the IMS Pagoda towards Turn 1.

“It’s a long, long braking zone, so not everything that happens at the start doesn’t mean that’s what’s going to happen when they get there (at the corner),” he said. “I thought it was some interesting stuff, a lot of crosses and mistakes, slips and cars in the grass.

“There’s a little bit of everything except altitude, which we have on a lot of road courses, but I don’t think that matters (because) it makes for a great run.”

As Logano has never driven on the IMS road course, he cannot determine the exact spot where he expects to start braking during practice, qualifying and in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard race, but he has a reasonable guess.

“You laugh, but it’s probably the (north end) of the pit wall,” he said. “It doesn’t look that far from here, but it takes a while to slow our cars down. Indy cars can go much deeper into it than we do. “

By the time Logano and the rest of the Cup Series field hit the track on Saturday August 14, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will have trained, qualified and had their warm-up on race day for the Big Machine Spiked Grand Prix. Coolers. The Xfinity Series will have trained and qualified for the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard.

Logano plans to witness this action as much as his schedule allows, but that does not guarantee that he will know for sure how he will attack the circuit or preserve his equipment, the tires in particular.

“I think we’re going to have to learn (do it) because I don’t know,” he said. “Before, when you were running here on the oval, the position on the track was everything. It was very difficult to pass, so you had a lot of interesting calls (at the pit stops), whether it was (taking) two tires or no tires or four tires. If you got out at the back (of the peloton), this is where you were (until the next stop).

“Now there are more opportunities to pass for sure. What does tire removal look like? We don’t know until we’re out on the track with our cars and our tires on. There is definitely going to be more stall than on the oval because there are more turns, more moments of deceleration, more moments of acceleration, more wear, more of everything.

“Once we’re done (the first practice) we’ll probably know better. “

This first practice session is a 50-minute session scheduled for 11:05 a.m. (ET) on Saturday, August 14. The 50-minute qualifying session will take place at 9:05 a.m. on Sunday, with the 82-lap Verizon 200 at the Brickyard scheduled for 1:00 p.m. this afternoon.

Logano, 31, has won 27 races in his Cup career, the 25 most recent and the 2018 Series Championship with the Penske team. His position with the boss is certainly secure, but he also knows that a good track performance Penske has had since January 2020 is as important as any race this season. Again, being around “The Captain” for nine seasons has taught him that, and it’s safe to say that Penske loves IMS more than anything outside of his family.

“You talked to him a lot, huh?” said Logano with the biggest laugh. “Yes of course.

“You don’t have to talk to him for long to find out how passionate he is about this race track and what it means to him, not only since he bought the track, but what it meant to come. here when he was a kid with his dad (first time in 1951) and winning 18 of those Indianapolis 500s, a Brickyard 400 (on the oval), all that. Now he owns it.

“I look around, and he really put the ‘Penske stamp’ on it. This is what you would expect from something Roger owns. Things are really pretty, nothing is out of place. It’s just cool.

Like everyone else, Logano has witnessed Penske’s enormous attention to detail.

“Oh, he told me about the bathrooms (IMS) he restored here,” Logano said. “Whenever I tell him about this place, he mentions the bathroom. He goes into all these details because he is in the details, all details.

“Everyone is surprised by this; I am not at all surprised. It’s Roger Penske.

And that’s why Logano watched last year’s Xfinity Series race so closely, looking for the details that will help him win the first road race of the Cup Series here. Amused by the action, of course. But also educated.


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