Logano, the reigning Cup Series champion, is the only Ford driver to win a race so far this season, claiming a victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is more like a superspeedway since its reconfiguration.
It’s in the more traditional “downforce” races where Logano believes Ford is most at a disadvantage to its Toyota and Chevrolet counterparts.
The root of the problem stems from the redesigned nose of the Ford Mustang – an area of the car all three manufacturers made changes to in the offseason.
“Everyone had the ability to adjust their front ends, cooling packages, and we didn’t maximize as well as we needed to. I think that’s the bottom line,” said Logano, who drives the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske.
“There’s no other way around it, so we’re constantly looking for improvements and how we can make our cars better, just like everybody else is, but we’re starting a little bit behind.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t win races. It just means we have to be perfect, and that means the teams are going to have to do their jobs to really overcome some of the issues.”
Joey Logano, Team Penske, Autotrader Ford Mustang
Photo by: Danny Hansen / NKP / Motorsport Images
With his win, Logano is the only Ford driver locked into the 2023 playoffs, but several others have performed well enough to remain high in the series standings.
“There’s still a long season. There are still plenty of races to win and plenty of time to turn the ship around a little bit, but it’s tough right now,” Logano said. “It’s probably going to be tough for the foreseeable future until we can make some adjustments, but we’re still in the hunt.
“When I look at the races that we’re executing perfectly from a car set-up perspective, pit road perspective, strategy, restarts – if we nail all of those – we can win. If we miss one of those, we can’t win.
“So, that’s just what it’s come down to right now is we have to strive for perfection, which we do anyways, but it really matters now in how we execute.”
The Cup Series’ move to the Next Gen car last season removed the ability of teams to design and manufacture improved parts for their teams.
Logano said that narrows teams’ focus to three areas – downforce, drag and horsepower.
“What you’ve got is what you’ve got for parts, so if you’re off on speed, there’s only three things you can look at to get faster, and we need to maximize our set-ups and stuff like that and understand the balance of mechanical grip versus aero grip and platform,” he said.
“I feel like we’re doing a pretty good job at a lot of that stuff. We just have to continue to look for the little things. It’s just going to take some time. It’s going to be kind of ‘grind it out’-type races and it doesn’t mean that when the playoffs come around, we ain’t going to be in the hunt.
“We are every year and I expect to be in the hunt again this year.”