Logano: Passing Gilliland “not that big a deal at all”

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Joey Logano had the opportunity to speak Thursday, at NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup media advance at Chicago’s Navy Pier, for the first time since a potential controversy involving his team emerged Wednesday.

News broke then regarding radio chatter involving his No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford for Penske Racing and team communications from the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford, driven by David Gilliland.

The radio chatter was solely issued by Front Row, not Penske, and Logano hadn’t even heard anything about the situation until he landed at a NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup pre-advance in New Hampshire.

“I landed there and my phone started blowing up,” Logano said Thursday. “I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ It was all new stuff to me. There was no transcript on our radio.”

Logano said communications between spotters happens all the time, and he didn’t think much of the situation.

“That stuff happens week-in and week-out with spotters,” Logano said. “If we didn’t pass the 38 car, we were still 10th in points, so it had no change in the outcome. I don’t look at it as that big a deal at all, to be honest.”

Asked if he was concerned that any penalties could be coming, Logano said he wasn’t and was instead focused on trying to win this weekend. He won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race there early this year.

Furthermore, he dismissed suggestions that he and the No. 22 team weren’t worthy of Logano’s first career Chase spot on merit, forgetting what happened Saturday night when he and the team missed the setup.

“We have one win, eight top fives and 13 or 14 top-10s. If you look at those numbers, that’s every bit of top three or four this year,” he said. “I don’t feel bad about being in the Chase at all. We deserve to be in if you look at those numbers. Then the bonus points you get from being 10th. We’re in the Chase, we’re here to race, and we deserve it.”

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.