Joey Logano, the new driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota, has not had a very good Speedweeks thus far.
He wrecked in the Budweiser Shootout last Saturday night, has brushed the wall in almost every practice session for the Daytona 500, slid through his pit stall during the Gatorade Duel race, and has not held a pretty wheel all week.
That's when Kyle Busch got behind the wheel of the No. 20.
Busch ran the car during Friday's practice session to see if he might be able to give the Home Depot team more or better feedback than what Logano was telling them. Busch and his No. 18 M&M's Toyota team decided to sit out this practice session after winning yesterday's Duel race.
Fellow teammate Denny Hamlin also sat out the practice session, so they both worked toward assisting Logano. Hamlin was visible in the No. 20 garage using hand signals and leaning in the widow of the 20 car.
While showing the in-car camera on Logano, the broadcast team was comparing how Logano was constantly twitching the wheel back and forth on the straightaway, while Busch was holding it smooth and still.
"As awful as it sounds, we’re kind of feeding [Logano] to the wolves,” Greg Zipadelli said. “We just felt like letting Kyle run it and telling him [about what he thought the car was doing]…It helped him, let him think about things.”
Between Busch and Logano, the No. 20 only ran 22 laps in the session.
But it was enough for Busch to give Logano and his crew chief Greg Zipadelli some feedback about what he felt the car was doing. While on the track he reported that the car did not have much speed and it was horrible in sucking up to other cars.
He went on to say that it wasn't really bumpy but it felt like he had a "22 hundred pound spring in the right front." And that the car was constantly in a tire slide.
Tomorrow will be the last time that drivers will be able to diagnose their cars for Sunday's Daytona 500 when "Happy Hour," the final practice session of the week, begins at 10:30 a.m., which will hopefully give Logano more confidence.
Joe Gibbs Racing's senior vice president of racing operations Jimmy Makar said Logano did learn some things. "Kyle could tell him, ‘OK, that’s normal, you should expect this or expect that,’” Makar said. “Or ‘That’s not normal, we need to fix this.’ It was a big boost for his confidence to know most of what he felt was what Kyle was feeling.”
And both Makar and Zipadelli said there were some differences in what the two drivers were saying about the car. Logano was telling the team that the car wasn't handling well on entry of the turns while Busch said the car was tight in the center of the turns.
“I think that’ll help sort through it going forward,” Makar said. “Mentally, he [Logano]can say, ‘Now I just have to overcome that feeling and know it’s not a big deal.’”
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