The drizzle and fog at Daytona International Speedway were refusing to lift, which left Joey Logano restless and bored. Stuck inside his team hauler and waiting out the delay during preseason testing, Logano was antsy and eager to talk to just about anyone.
Logano was so bored, in fact, that his public relations representative offered him up for a one-on-one interview in the hauler (which usually must be scheduled in advance). And Logano, sensing an opportunity to talk racing, happily obliged.
The 20-year-old with the easy laugh bounced down the stairs from the lounge and approached with a smile.
Joey Logano, it's clear, is happy to be here.
This year, though, he appears poised to take the next step. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has become more of a threat to run up front as his career has progressed, perhaps even to the point where he could qualify for the Chase in 2011.
Would it be wise to pick him for a Chase spot in the preseason predictions?
"Don't waste the pick," Logano said with a straight face, then broke into laughter again. "Nah, we're definitely strong enough. I feel like the last 15 races, we did a good job. This year, we just have to make sure we don't make those stupid mistakes throughout the summer months – and I feel confident we won't after the way we ended."
Logano has come a long way from the driver who struggled to stay competitive in the first half of his rookie season. Back then, he was admittedly in over his head and trying to learn about how to communicate with his team and navigate new racetracks.
It took time to figure it out, as it would for any new driver.
"I don't care how old you are – as a rookie, you don't have any experience with a lot of these challenges," he said. "It's a lot of headaches and a lot of hard work. It's easy to get down on yourself – and I did.
"But you've got to find a way to pull out of it. It's the good days that pull you forward, like when you've had a good run – (you say), 'OK, I can do this. I can do this.'"
Communication was one of the most difficult aspects of the learning process – a "biiiiig deal," Logano said, more than many fans realize. The communication with crew chief Greg Zipadelli is now where it needs to be in order to contend for a Chase spot, the driver said.
Logano continues to try and improve himself as a driver, too. In a boredom-fueled move in the offseason, he found himself watching races from 2010 and critiquing his performance all the while.
He'd view the replays and think, "Why did I do that?" about certain moves or passes.
"You watch yourself line up and prepare to pass a guy, but then ask, 'Well, why didn't I do that?'" he said of watching himself on TV. "That's just little mental notes you put in your mind.
"I enjoy watching the good races a lot more. In the bad races, they don't put you on TV as much! So that's kind of tough."
The conversation then turned to some non-racing topics. For example: Why did Logano decide to restart his own Twitter account (@jlogano) after deleting his old one a couple years ago?
"I was kind of getting into it a little more," he said. "It's a bigger deal than I thought it was. At first, I was like, 'Who the hell really cares what the heck I'm doing?' It's like, 'OK, yeah, I'm going to dinner.' Who cares?
"But I started kind of getting into it, reading some celebrities and stuff like that and was like, 'Alright, this is kinda cool.' And it's kind of cool to see how many fans you get. It's different, you know?"
Logano had a low-key offseason, filling the weeks with activities and trips within a three-hour radius of his Charlotte-area home.
He went to Georgia and drove his girlfriend around in a two-seat dirt Late Model car. He went four-wheeling in the snow and took trips to Asheville, Myrtle Beach and to Atlanta for a Falcons football game.
"I don't like planning much, and I like road trips," he said. "Everything is last minute things with me. I'm like, 'Yeah, let's do it!'"
Logano also tried hunting for the first time in his life.
"I decided I'm not a hunter – I can't sit still long enough to do it," he said. "I sat there for two hours and didn't see a damn squirrel."
And, on the last day of 2010, he attended teammate Kyle Busch's wedding – which he deemed "unbelievable."
"It was frickin' crazy, dude," he said. "I don't think a big Hollywood celebrity could top that wedding. It was the craziest thing I've ever been to."