DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Joey Logano, driver of the #20 The Home Depot Toyota, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver gives a surprising pick for 'cleanest racer' and offers a cautionary tale about autographs.
Our series of weekly NASCAR driver interviews continues with Joey Logano, the fourth-year Joe Gibbs Racing driver who has consecutive top-10 finishes to start the season. Logano fielded SB Nation's "12 Questions" at Daytona.
SBN: How many of your career races can you remember?
JL: The whole race or moments of the race?
SBN: Well, if I was going to throw out a random race like, "Hey, remember your second year when you ran at Pocono in June?" Would you remember that?
JL: I think that was the race I got dumped, so I think I do remember that one (laughs). But I might remember 50 percent – maybe. I remember bits and pieces of them for sure, but you even forget them throughout the year. Like a lot of times you'll be going back to the same racetrack for the second time and you'll be like, "Man, what happened there the first time?" Then once you start talking about it, it's like, "Ohhhh, I remember!" So it's important to write your notes down and do all that, because my memory stinks.
SBN: What was the first-ever win you got in any form of racing?
JL: I was in a quarter midget in Meriden, Conn. at Silver City Speedway. I don't remember it, though. Couldn't tell you what happened. I was like 6.
SBN: You don't remember it? Do you remember celebrating afterward or anything?
JL: I probably had some milk and cookies (laughs). I can't remember. I was 6 years old. I have the trophy, so that's kind of cool to have. But I don't remember what actually happened.
SBN: Who is a really clean driver you enjoy racing with?
JL: I'm probably going to surprise you: Tony Stewart.
SBN: Really? That is a bit surprising.
JL: Tony Stewart races me cleaner than anyone else on the racetrack – and he gets that same respect back from me. And he does that for a lot of people. But at the same time, when it's game time and it's time to go race hard, he will race you harder than anybody else, too. So I enjoy racing with him and I respect him for that. It's something that's hard to do, but he's a very smart racer about when he needs to go and when he doesn't need to.
SBN: On the flip side of that, who is a driver who always seems to hold you up or make it extra hard to pass?
JL: Yeah, I'm not gonna tell you (laughs).
SBN: I was wondering how many people were going to duck that question this year...
JL: Yeah, I'm not gonna answer that. I don't want to stir any shit up.
SBN: What's your personal code of conduct on the track?
JL: For me, obviously at the beginning of the race, you don't want to go too hard. But if you're around that guy who races you hard all the time, what happens is it's a never-ending deal. If he races you hard all the time, then you race him hard all the time; well, then he feels like you race him hard all the time so he's going to race you hard all the time. You never, ever break the cycle! So it's really hard to get through that.
But then some people race hard all the time no matter what. And those are typically the guys who are in wrecks the most, too. There's a time to go and a time not to. Restarts, obviously, there's not much give-and-take at all; you're out there racing hard. If it's a long green-flag run and someone's running you down and they're faster than you, what do you have to lose (by letting them go), you know? You don't want to piss someone off that's going to bite you later in the race.
On the other hand, if you're trying to stay on the lead lap or fighting for the lucky dog, you're going to race like it's the last lap. So, to me, it's just common sense. You just be smart out there and try to position yourself for the end of the race. That's what it's all about.
SBN: Do you keep a mental list of drivers who have wronged you on the track?
JL: Oh yeah. I don't think it's even a list; I think you just know. It's right there off the top of your head. For sure. I'm not telling you who, though! (Laughs)
SBN: But how do you decide when to exact your revenge?
JL: Well, it depends how mad you are that day or how your day is going. Every driver in this garage remembers just about everything that happens to them in a situation like that. They're not going to forget. We've got very good memories when it comes to that stuff. We might not remember all the races, but we remember what happened.
I think people are still paying back people from a couple years ago. I think it lasts that long.
SBN: Who is a driver from the past you'd like to team up with?
JL: That's a hard question. I think David Pearson is really cool. It'd be cool to be around him; he seems like he's pretty neat. And he was a pretty good race car driver, you know (laughs). Obviously, the Allison brothers are pretty cool. There's a lot of them.
When you meet them now, you wonder what they were like when they were racing. Like Cale Yarborough, they're nice as can be now, but I wonder what they were like when they were racing each other all the time. Everyone was mad, everyone didn't like each other.
I think it's a hard question to answer, because people probably change when they get out of the sport.
SBN: When is the last time you got nervous about something?
JL: I don't know if I get nervous, but I'm a worrier. I worry about everything.
SBN: Like what?
JL: You name it. Everything. I'm the guy who stays up at night worried about stuff: Racing stuff, being late. On Sundays, I get quiet; won't talk to anybody. Just thinking about different racing situations I've got to do. I don't know if that's being nervous or getting in your zone. You start cutting people out, which probably doesn't make you that nice of a guy, but you got to remember what you're here for.
SBN: Like all drivers, you do plenty of autograph sessions and appearances. Can you tell us about an awkward moment you've had with a fan?
JL: I'll tell you what makes me mad. You go to sign something and you do it nice, it comes out good – and then later on that day, the same person comes up to you and asks you to sign their hat. And you look at it, and you're like, "I already signed it!" And they had just completely forgotten. That makes me a little bit angry. It's like, "How do you forget? It doesn't mean anything to you?" That happens every once in awhile.
SBN: Wait, back up. That's happened more than once?
JL: Oh yeah. They ask you to sign it again, and you're like, "Gee, thanks. Thanks for remembering I already signed it." (Laughs)
SBN: When you're done racing someday and you could only choose one of the following two jobs, which would you rather be: A NASCAR broadcaster or a high-level NASCAR official?
JL: I think I'd rather do the broadcasting stuff. I could be myself. People want to see personality, so I could just kind of joke around with it, laugh and tell people what the real story is, tell 'em what's really going on. I think those guys who have been involved in racing have a little more of the inside story, because they know deep down inside what's going on. Like Ricky Craven and those guys, they do a good job of really knowing what drivers are thinking and feeling. I'd like to do something like that; I would enjoy it.
SBN: What's a question you get asked all the time that you're tired of answering?
JL: Actually, that question right there! I got asked that question about three or four times this week.
SBN: No way!
JL: Yeah! (Laughs hysterically)
SBN: Alright. Damn. I thought that was somewhat of an original question.
JL: You would think it would be. Everyone is thinking outside the box this year! They got you!
SBN: Each week, I'm asking a driver to provide a question for the next interview. This one comes from Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s 12 Questions: "What's retirement age for a guy like you?"
JL: Retirement age for a guy like me...hmm. I don't know. It's too far away. For me, it seems like forever right now. Because I don't know when to stop; I don't know when a good time is. I'm not married, I don't have kids. I just want to go race. So when my life changes, I'll probably have a better feel for that, but right now I'm single (at least in terms of marriage), happy and want to go race.
SBN: Now, can you give me a question for the next guy? Something you think is original, unlike my last question.
JL: Well, I did like your one question about who is the hardest to race, but I don't know who is going to answer it. Man, this is hard. It's tough to be a reporter all of the sudden. Hmm...
(After thinking for awhile and brainstorming with public relations rep Jeremy Troiano) How about a racing moment they regret?
SBN: You got it, thanks.
Coming next week: 12 Questions with Marcos Ambrose.