Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion, earned his first-ever pole at Martinsville Speedway to lead the Team Penske qualifying effort for this Sunday’s STP 500. The pole is the 24 year old’s second of the season (Atlanta) and the 10th of his career. Logano used strong first- and second-round efforts to save laps on his tires, which helped propel him to the fastest time in the final round.

JOEY LOGANO – No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion – PRESS CONFERENCE – “It feels great to finally get the pole here. We’ve been close so many times and throughout my career I feel like we’ve always qualified well here, but was never able to get a pole. I caught a hard time about getting the track record here and not getting the pole, so to have a pole to back that up feels great. You win anything at Martinsville is a big deal. This is such a tough race track and it means a lot to say you’ve won something here even if it’s a pole. It’s a good start for us. To get out there, obviously, starting towards the front here is a huge advantage, probably bigger than most race tracks because it allows you the first run to be able to pace yourself a little bit and make sure you have some race car at the end of this thing. Obviously, the first pit stall is an advantage like it is every week, but we’ve seen a lot of people crash on pit road here, so it’s a little safer down there at the end also. Nothing but good things happen from starting first, so I’m excited about it. I was laughing. I talked to Todd when it was raining today and he said he wouldn’t be bummed out if practice and qualifying got rained out because we would start second. I said, ‘I don’t want that. If there’s a shot at it, I want to get the pole. Second is not good enough.’ So I got to say I told you so to him and that doesn’t happen very often when he’s way smarter than me, so it works out pretty good. I’ve taken every opportunity I can to say that, so we’ve got a good starting spot and I’m excited about the race.”

WHAT MAKES YOU SUCH A GOOD QUALIFIER? “Obviously, a fast race car is a lot of it. I think in the past qualifying the first rounds were always good for me and when all we had was one round before was kind of an advantage. I feel like I was just able to get the most out of the car really quick and I really focused because that was a weak point of mine early in my career was qualifying, and I focused really hard at trying to make myself better at it. I was laughing today because usually you only get like two or three laps would be as much as we’d ever run and that last run I ran four, five, I think I ran six laps. After the fifth one I was breathing so hard it was like, ‘I need to come in or I’m gonna pass out.’ It’s an amazing intensity level and I think that’s some of it – you have to have that intensity level and pushing the car to that ragged edge. In the race you think you’re running 100 percent, but there’s always that little bit left in the tank and when it comes to qualifying you’ve got to be able to push it that little bit more. When you’re running here at Martinsville you’ve got to be able to push it into the corner as hard as you can and on the exits as hard as you can. If you slip a little bit the penalty is huge. If you get loose, you lose a tenth pretty easy. We saw earlier that one-tenth is more than 10 spots in qualifying, so you’ve got to be right on the edge of this thing to have a fast lap, but a mistake is costly. I just think that intensity level has to be so high.”

WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE FOR YOU GETTING THE POLE? “I’m pretty sure we ran less laps than anybody going into the third round, so that was the advantage that we had going for us. We were able to see how many cars had run and know what we had to run to get into the next round. We got to the second round and all we had to make was two laps and we felt pretty confident about where we were, so keeping those laps off the tires was good because a lot of guys you see throughout our session they were up to nine laps. I think Brad started the last run with 14 laps on his tires. That’s a lot. Obviously, there’s gonna be some fall off when you’re talking about 14 laps. You talk about ins and outs and all that adds more to it, too. I think our advantage was we had less laps than anybody and a fast race car and it all kind of worked out, but that kind of seemed like what our advantage was today.”

YOU HAVE 1000 LEFT TURNS ON SUNDAY. HOW VITAL IS FOCUS? “You’ve got to get in a rhythm because at Martinsville there are straightaways, but you don’t really ever get to relax on that straightaway because that corner comes so quick and late in the run, by the time you get wide-open, you’re lifting – if you get wide-open sometimes on long runs. And you’re around a car all the time. It’s kind of like Bristol – you’re always around other cars. It’s a long race, no doubt. Timewise, I guess it’s probably pretty similar to other ones, but 500 laps around this place you think about how hard you’ve got to brake in the corners every lap and how smooth you’ve got to be back to the throttle and buzzing the rear tires once how big that penalty is and making sure you’re right on your mark every time. If you lose focus you can kill a whole run pretty quick by just running a couple laps too hard or trying to race someone too hard. Obviously, trying to keep your head cool for that long racing other cars there’s always someone mad at somebody at the end of this one. There’s just a lot thrown at you when you come to such a small, tight, slow race track. There’s gonna be a lot going on. You look at restarts here and how tricky and sometimes frustrating it can be if you’re on the outside and trying to get a hole to get down. Just thinking through all that stuff throughout the whole race you’re physically shot because you’re driving these things so hard, but you’re mentally wore out also because you’ve got so many things on your mind with no straightaway to kind of think about things and relax and process what you’re taking in.”

DO YOU VIEW SUNDAY AND TEXAS AS A TEST FOR THE CHASE? “I don’t think we approach these races any different than we normally do. I would never call a race a test. It’s a race because it’s a race. If there’s a trophy and one of those things (grandfather clock) sitting at the end, I want that thing really bad. I don’t care if it’s in the spring or the fall, I want one whenever I can. I’ll take it both times. I think typically what we always do is we try things throughout practice. We feel like we put in whatever is the best we feel that we come up with in practice and we race it. If it doesn’t work, we know what not to do so I wouldn’t call that a test, but that’s just kind of a typical weekend to say, ‘OK, on Monday morning what do we do good, what do we do bad, what will we do again, what won’t we do again,’ and just try to decipher what’s the best package when we come back to try to make ourselves better because it seems like it’s the same thing everyone else does, I think – you’ve got to keep getting better. You can’t ever stay still for a minute because they’ll catch you and pass you in a second. Martinsville has been an OK track for me for the last couple years, but they feel like we aren’t quite to the level of like Jimmie or Jeff or Kurt here last spring and I’m sure Kevin is gonna be fast again — the 11. Those guys are consistently fast at this race track and we’ve made progress, we’re getting closer. I feel like Todd and I have really looked into what that next step is and what that feel is that I need to look for and it’s just a matter of finding it and getting it. I feel like we’re making progress. Obviously in qualifying we have a fast car, we just have to make sure it lasts for 500 laps.”

WHAT’S THE TOLL OF 500 LAPS OF RACING HERE? “I breath in the race, but it’s funny because it just depends on the race track. California makes you breathe really hard when you run out there at Auto Club Speedway. Like I said, that intensity level has got to be so high. Typically, one lap and you’re done and, ‘OK,’ and I’m usually breathing hard after that, but you’re going for that long and it just seems like you find where your max is that you can just do as a driver and this is all I can do, this is 100 percent of your focus goes into make laps and making lap speed and doing what you can do out there. I guess you forget to breathe. I don’t know, but for some reason my heart rate is higher in qualifying than it is in any race situation. I just think it’s because you’ve got to hit it just right because it’s so close. A couple hundredths and we’re not on the pole. It’s so small that you have to be able to get it all out of it.”

WHY DO PEOPLE GET SO MAD AT EACH OTHER HERE? “I think a lot of time here you just think you have to slow down these cars. They’re so fast and heavy and you’re on the brakes all you can, you’re right on the edge of what the tire will give you. There’s a lot of mistakes that happen and to think the mistakes, even though it’s a mistake, it still makes you mad if you’re on the bad end of the deal. And then also it’s hard to pass, so then when you’re trying to pass someone for 20 laps or 30 laps eventually you get frustrated and then that guy gives you the bumper or vice versa and then that person is mad because you just got moved out of the way and it escalates from there. There are so many different things that make people mad when they come to short tracks and it’s just a hard place to pass because it’s one lane, but it is possible to pass. Obviously, we’ve seen great racing here, but there are a lot of comers and goers throughout a run, which creates a lot of passing here. So it’s been a great race track, but it just makes people mad for that reason.”

THE CHEVYS SEEMED FAST, BUT YOU’RE ON THE POLE IN A FORD. IS THERE ANYTHING TO THAT? “We had a fast race car and obviously a good motor and it all kind of worked out well. I think we’ve seen all year that the Chevys have been fast, but you can look and see why. They have great race car drivers. They have great race teams. They have a lot of cars out there. For us, there are only a few of us Fords out there. We don’t have a huge fleet, so the chances of us winning is not as great because there aren’t as many out there, but we do a great job to make sure to get the Blue Oval out there and trying to win every time we can. Team Penske has done a great job working with Ford with the Roush Yates motors. This has been a race track for Ford that has been challenging for them, so I feel like over the last few years we’ve identified where we’re weak and then you can start working on it. That’s the big thing – just understanding where you’re not good before you try to start trying to fix it.”

HOW IS YOUR TRUCK FOR BKR THIS WEEKEND? “It’s the first time I’ve ever run a truck here and they drive a lot different than what the Cup car does. It took a minute to get used to it because they’ve got the old ride height rule so the truck travels a lot more when you hit the brakes. With the Cup cars it’s down and when you hit the brakes it’s already there, so it takes a minute to get back into the old mode of Cup racing, so I think that was interesting. The less horsepower in those was interesting and what makes the truck go fast was a little bit different than what makes the Sprint Cup car go fast just as far as what I look for as a driver, the feel I look for – so different feels faster. I thought that was kind of interesting and I’m kind of interested to see how that plays out tomorrow. Hopefully, I’m going in the right direction with it. As the driver, you’re kind of leading the team in saying, ‘OK, this is what I need for the race to go fast,’ and never racing a truck here I’m just kind of taking an educated guess on what I need in a Cup car typically, so it showed a lot of speed in practice. It felt fast for sure and there are some other trucks that have some good speed too. The 00 and I think it was the 4 truck, and then it seemed like also the race is gonna be interesting because there are a lot of trucks off the pace and I think that will be interesting to see how that plays out because a lot of times if you run a truck race – every time I’ve run one it’s been on a bigger race track so you can move around and keep the momentum going. But here you’re gonna get stacked up behind someone. There will be some passes made because of slower lap traffic, so you’ve just got to be aggressive and make sure you make the right decisions and don’t get put in a bad spot with the traffic.