In a one-on-one conversation with Rochester Motorsports on Tuesday, May 26, NASCAR Sprint Cup series driver and 2015 Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano advocated tire safety measures for consumers and said that Watkins Glen International is a “good place to go race.” The driver of the #22 Ford Fusion for Team Penske is participating in a public service campaign with the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) and fellow NASCAR Penske drivers Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney to advocate tire safety for motorists on the highway at the start of this summer’s vacation driving season.
“Watkins Glen is one of the two road courses that we have,” said Logano when asked about the historic track in upstate New York. “It’s a fast road course,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to go up there. It’s such a nice area, the lake being right there; it’s on top of the mountain. A lot of elevation change on the racetrack. It’s definitely a good place for us to go race.”
“Sprint Cup has been going there for a long time,” he added. “It’s a lot of fun. I’d like to get a win there some day.”
When asked, as primarily a driver of ovals, if he finds road courses particularly challenging, he replied that each racetrack on the calendar has its own difficulties to overcome. “They’re all challenging. Road courses are something we don’t typically do,” he said, “so it’s a little bit different for us.”
The real difference is not just between the Glen and Sonoma and then all the ovals, though. Logano explained:
“As a driver, as a team, to be successful at all these different types of racetracks the larger challenge is not just an oval or a road course; it’s a short track, different speedways, mile-and-a-half, and road courses. They all take something different as a race team, as a driver to make that all work out in the end.”
In talking about his mission of the moment to advocate tire safety for drivers on the highways this summer, Logano spoke about the importance of regularly checking the tread on tires. While he was speaking as part of RMA’s campaign, he did not miss the opportunity to mention one of his own sponsors as well. “I wanted to talk about when you need new tires,” he said and explained (or reminded those in the know) one of the simplest ways to check if your tires are wearing out.
“You stick a penny upside down into the tire tread of your tire,” he said. “If you see the top of Lincoln’s head, that means you need to go to Discount Tire and get a new tire before you go spinning out down the highway when it’s rainy out.”
“Also check your tire pressures once a month,” he noted. “The recommended tire pressure is usually on the inside of the driver’s door.”
The pro racer recommended checking tire pressures fairly frequently. “Make sure you check that as often as possible to make sure you’re safe going down the road and not causing any accidents and keeping yourself safe also.” Maintaining your tires “is very important,” Logano continued.
“Safety, for one.” Treads are important to regular drivers; not so much for Cup pilots, as Logano explained:
“You think about, when you don’t have treads, you start hydroplaning a lot when it’s raining, and it gets ugly really quick. For us on our race cars, we actually run slick tires with no treads. That’s because we don’t race in the rain. We can stop, but a lot of times, life doesn’t stop when it starts raining for people driving down the highway.”
Asked why NASCAR sometimes only changes two tires on a pit stop, Logano explained, “Sometimes we change two; most of the time we change four, but when we do two tires it’s basically because it takes less time going down pit road. Obviously, it takes half the amount of time to change two as it does to [change] four tires. We’re at a racetrack; we’re at the end of a race, and we’re trying to get track position. We can pass a lot of cars on pit road by taking two tires on pit road. It’s a strategy call. Obviously, also our car won’t be as fast with two [fresh] tires as with four tires, so it’s a strategy call as the race goes and what position we’re running at to try to win the race.”
Does the two-tire stop have much to do with the rate of wear the tires experience on one side of the car versus the other? “Sometimes, they do. It depends on our set-up on what tires would wear and what Goodyear decides to bring us that weekend for tires and how they wear out. It’s something that changes every week.”
With the Memorial Day weekend opening the summer recreation season just behind us, Logano also had suggestions for motorists getting ready for longer road trips. Summer is a popular time for driving vacations.
“Always check your whole car before you go on a long trip,” he said. “You don’t want to be on the side of the road at any point. I always recommend checking your pressures once a month, rotate your tires every 5,000 – 8,000 miles. Make sure your car’s up to good shape before you make a long trip, for sure.”
In thinking about the summer driving season, Rochester Motorsports asked Logano if his family took driving trip vacations himself when he was growing up and what his memories might be of them, if so.
“My family vacations in the car were usually racetrack to racetrack, growing up racing a lot, so we traveled around the country doing that,” the driver replied, laughing. “So, a little bit different family vacation than most, but we always enjoyed it and had a fun time going to racetracks, and racing with my family was a lot of fun.”
Joey Logano, at 25, one of the younger drivers in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series, was born in Connecticut and spent his early years growing up there. Rochester Motorsports asked if that posed any particular challenges to him in moving into NASCAR, a racing series that originated in the American Southeast but that has become popular all around the country in more recent years.
“I lived in Connecticut for the first few years of my life,” Logano confirmed. That’s where my family’s from. I still get to go up there three or four times a year. It’s just a lot of fun to see everyone and visit,” he said.
“It’s actually a pretty big racing community up there,” he added. He also commented:
“I think it’s pretty neat to be from Connecticut and be a Sprint Cup driver; it’s actually a lot of fun to say that. It’s always a good time going up there; kind of get that hometown feeling when you go back up there. There’s definitely a lot of good racetracks up there. Stafford and Thompson, some good short tracks, and it’s always fun to go up to Loudon [New Hampshire]; that’s the closest that we [NASCAR] end up racing up there.”
Logano has been racing for a long time now, even though he just turned 25 on May 24. At the moment, he sits at third in the Sprint Cup championship and has most likely secured a spot in the Chase with his Daytona 500 win. He also races in NASCAR’s Xfinity (formerly Nationwide) series.
Reflecting on his experience so far and what it has taught him, he said, “You learn a lot of different things just growing up at the racetrack. It’s hard to touch on one thing. When you start racing so young, you learn the basics of it. As you move up, you understand the race car a little bit more, how to race.”
“To this day, I’m still learning,” Logano said. “I think that’s something you have to do as a professional in anything; you always have to be open to learning more things.”
NASCAR comes to Watkins Glen International for the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen the weekend of August 7-9. The next race on the Sprint Cup calendar is at Dover International Speedway, May 31. For more information about tire safety, see the RMA website, www.betiresmart.org.