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Communication key to Logano's strong stretch run
11-17-2010, 04:33 PM
Post: #1
Communication key to Logano's strong stretch run
Relationship with Zipadelli has improved, as have finishes in second Cup season

Article by: David Caraviello

Source: http://www.nascar.com/2010/news/headline...index.html

Quote:AVONDALE, Ariz. -- A few months earlier, it could have ruined their entire weekend. Joey Logano qualified 20th last week at Texas, admittedly one of his most difficult tracks, and earlier the frustration over that one lap would have been capable of consuming the No. 20 team for the full three days. There may have been tension between the driver and crew chief, the crew may have come in the next morning still fuming, and a program trying to take the next step may have found itself in for another long, disheartening race day.

This time, though, none of that happened.

"We were fine," Logano said a week later at Phoenix International Raceway. "We kept our heads up, we were going to be OK. We struggled in practice all last week, and on the last run we finally got it. We had one of the best runs we've had all year. We led laps, had a shot at it and finished fourth. That's really all you can ask for is to have a shot at these things. It's fun to be able to do that."

Logano is having a lot of fun these days, enjoying his best sustained stretch at the Sprint Cup level as his sophomore season nears its end. Lost amid the furor of the three-headed championship race is the fact that the young Joe Gibbs Racing driver has been on a tear since Richmond, compiling seven finishes of 11th or better over that nine-race span, results many drivers in the Chase would be happy to take. The late surge gives Logano a shot at a top-15 final points finish -- right now, he's 12 behind Ryan Newman -- and at least raises the possibility of a breakthrough playoff appearance for the 20-year-old next season.

What's happened? Crew chief Greg Zipadelli says the cars are better, that the team isn't making the small mistakes that cost it better results earlier in the year, that Logano is growing a little more seasoned as he visits the same race tracks again and again. But so much of it goes back to the driver's seat, and the twin issues of communication and confidence. Toward the end of their second season together, Logano and Zipadelli are better learning how to push each others' buttons without shutting one another off. And Logano has discovered a measure of consistency at NASCAR's highest level as a result.

"His confidence is as good as it's ever been as far as over here [in the Cup Series]," said Zipadelli, who won two championships with Tony Stewart. "He actually runs better over here right now than he has in the Nationwide car."

Logano has been a part of the landscape for so long, it's hard to remember sometimes just how young he is compared to most other drivers in the up garage. Zipadelli had worked so long with Stewart that the two often joked their relationship was more like a marriage, complete with heated arguments and occasional blowups on the radio. They were both experienced, confident, thick-skinned men who knew how to let things roll off them. When Stewart left Joe Gibbs Racing to form his own team, Zipadelli was paired with a then-18-year-old Logano, who feeds off positive reinforcement. Figuring one another out took time.

"Maybe we found out what makes each other run, basically," Logano said. "He's a lot different person than I am, and we clashed for a while, to be honest with you. Now we understand what makes each others' wheels turn. For me, it's a lot different than what he would do. We have different personalities. It was a struggle. Now I feel like we get along great. Even off the track, our friendship is better, and I feel like that's a key thing."

They clashed to the point where Logano wondered if the relationship would survive the season's most trying weeks -- a long summer stretch of poor finishes marred by mistakes like a pit-road speeding penalty at Bristol, and a crash with Kevin Harvick at Pocono that prompted Logano's famous comment about Harvick's wife wearing a firesuit. At their lowest, they were 21st in points and the relationship between driver and crew chief was stretched to the breaking point.

"I think it got close to it," Logano said. "I think it was borderline throughout the summer. We were getting frustrated with one another. We had a love-fest [last week] at Texas. It was like, you're good, you're good. That's a big deal to me. I don't know if I take things too personal or what it is, but I need to be motivated. I need people telling me, you're all right, you're going to be fine. And apparently, it makes a difference. For some reason, that's me. That was never Zippy's way of doing it, and we're now all understanding what makes our wheels turn, and I think that's the biggest reason we're running better, honestly. Obviously our race cars are good, but I don't feel like they're any better than what we had."

Zipadelli has learned to adapt, to let go a little more, to laugh, to tell his driver even on tough days that things are OK and they'll get it figured out. Had the disappointing qualifying effort at Texas happened at say, Watkins Glen in August, Zipadelli admits he would have been upset over it. Now he tries to take the pressure off his driver, something he believes has contributed to improved results on the race track.

"I think I've learned, myself. I control my emotions a little bit better," the crew chief said. "I go up to the coach and be mad. He doesn't know that part, but it certainly seems to be helping him grow with his confidence. It's hard. He's 20 years old. You think OK, you made it to this level, it's all about men, you can just suck it up and be done with it. But it's not like that."

Logano has dealt with expectations his entire racing life, ever since he was middle-school aged and Mark Martin unearthed him as the next big thing. Now, as his third season at NASCAR's top level approaches, a different kind of expectation arises -- the Chase. His solid finishing kick to this year raises the natural questions about whether the No. 20 team is ready to contend for a playoff berth in 2011. Zipadelli isn't ready to go there, not yet. There are still some improvements yet to be made.

"It's too dangerous to go there," he said. "Honestly, big picture, I don't think we have any choice but to figure out how to be in the Chase. It's our third year, and we'll need to make some gains. But I think what we've learned, what he's learned about how consistency pays off, is important -- instead of finishing 28th, if you could have just finished 15th. There are a couple of guys in the Chase, we have as many top-fives and top-10s as they do. But we're not there, because we have a lot more 28th-place finishes. Their bad days were 15th, 16th. That kills you."

Befitting someone his age, Logano looks at things short term. He worries about that day, about that week's race, and doesn't move ahead in his thinking until the schedule allows him to. As for a potential Chase berth next year, well, that would be built one week at a time.

"I think I've become immune to pressure," he said. "I'm kind of used to it. I've been under pressure for a long, long time, I think since I started in that Nationwide car. I put a lot of pressure on myself as soon as I signed with Joe Gibbs Racing. A lot of people say, man, that's a relief. But I was nervous. I was 15 years old. Yeah, I've got a ride, I've got a good company behind me. But if I don't do good, I'm not going to make it. You can't say you've made it because you signed with a team. I think ever since I was 15, that was big pressure for me. I wanted to do good. I put it more on myself than Home Depot or Joe Gibbs Racing. I'm a competitor. I want to do good next year."

But he won't put any more pressure on himself to make the Chase than he did to perform in a developmental series at 15. "That's just how I am," Logano said. "I'll work as hard as I can, do the best that I can, and hopefully that's good enough."
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11-17-2010, 07:26 PM
Post: #2
RE: Communication key to Logano's strong stretch run
nice piece.....gws
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11-20-2010, 03:13 PM
Post: #3
RE: Communication key to Logano's strong stretch run
That is a great piece and thanks. I think it hits the nail on the head. Learning each other and getting to know each others personalities is the key and I think this is why we see great things coming in the future.
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11-25-2010, 12:17 AM
Post: #4
RE: Communication key to Logano's strong stretch run
I really enjoy these NASCAR.com articles. I used to read them all the time at work. Really great writing.
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11-29-2010, 06:13 PM
Post: #5
RE: Communication key to Logano's strong stretch run
I love going to NASCAR.com because they always have things on there about Joey and i get so excited reading them because he is a GREAT driver and i love it that eople are starting to relize that!!!

Joey Logano Heart
New year, New Crew Chief!
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11-29-2010, 08:55 PM
Post: #6
RE: Communication key to Logano's strong stretch run
very true. he did great in his rookie season in my opinion and EVEN better in sophomore year. Hope for a great Junior Year! haha
(11-29-2010 06:13 PM)Joeyloganolover20 Wrote:  I love going to NASCAR.com because they always have things on there about Joey and i get so excited reading them because he is a GREAT driver and i love it that eople are starting to relize that!!!
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11-29-2010, 11:59 PM
Post: #7
RE: Communication key to Logano's strong stretch run
Yes dont we all he is going to be a Champ one day and knock Jimmie Johnson off his HIGHHORSE

Joey Logano Heart
New year, New Crew Chief!
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11-30-2010, 12:13 AM
Post: #8
RE: Communication key to Logano's strong stretch run
I like Jimmie haha but if anyone was to beat him I'd like it to be Joey!
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