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NASCAR Cup Series

Logano Talks New Race Format, Aero Package, Manufacturer Battle Vs. SHR

PHOENIX — Since joining Team Penske before the 2013 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series campaign, Joey Logano has won 15 races and has come frustratingly close to winning his first championship twice.

New season, new changes, same approach

The Middletown, Conn. native is now entering his ninth full season of Cup competition in 2017 and is primed for that elusive championship. But with the new format that separates the races into three stages, how will he approach each Sunday?

“Our team will adapt, and we’ll approach races the same way we always do to win and maximize our day,” Logano told POPULAR SPEED. “Not maximizing our day will be a different obviously with the way the segments are going to be.”

He also noted how the new aerodynamic package plays a part as well. Spoiler heights are being reduced 1⅛ inches from 2016, so cars will have even less downforce this season.

“We have to be open to change this year and open to trying different things to evolve from a strategy standpoint and from a setup standpoint,” he said.

Penske has been the strongest Ford team since the inception of the elimination-style playoff system in 2014 with 25 wins. Logano was a Championship 4 driver in its first year and again in 2016.

Penske vs. SHR?

With Stewart-Haas Racing making a change from Chevrolet to Ford, there will be a battle to be the manufacturer’s top organization.

Logano said of SHR’s switch, “If I look at the way Brad [Keselowski] and I work together as teammates, we want to beat each other, but we also learn a lot from each other. We know that we need to share information to be successful. I think Ford realizes that and it will be a relationship similar to driver and driver as team relationships.”

Both Penske and SHR will use Roush-Yates Engines in 2017 and beyond, so data sharing will be inevitable.

“Obviously, we want to keep our secrets, and they’ll want to keep their secrets, but there will be some things that will be open to sharing and trading things off,” he said.

Logano and sponsor Shell-Pennzoil are both signed through 2018.

Your prediction?

Will Logano be one of the four championship contenders at Homestead-Miami Speedway this year? Will Penske remain Ford’s fastest team or will SHR rise to the top?

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By John Haverlin

John Haverlin is currently studying Communication at Arizona State University. He has been a reporter at Phoenix International Raceway for three years and has written news stories for the track's official site. Born and raised in Long Island, N.Y., Haverlin has lived in Arizona the past three years.