In the week since he started working with Joey Logano, crew chief Paul Wolfe has had to revisit aspects of his job he hadnât had to worry about for almost a decade.
Thatâs the scenario he finds himself in after Team Penske announced Jan. 6 that he was moving from Brad Keselowskiâs No. 2 car to Loganoâs No. 22 as part of crew chief swap involving all three of Penskeâs Cup teams.
âDoesnât seem like a very big change because weâre all in the same company,â Wolfe said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radioâs âTradinâ Paint.â âThereâs so many little details and things that go along with the change. Itâs (made what would) typically (be) a calm January for us without any testing, itâs left us with plenty to do and plenty to think about.â
Before the shakeup, Wolfe and Keselowski were the longest active driver-crew chief pairing in the Cup Series, dating back to 2011. Before that they had one season together in the Xfinity Series.
Now Wolfe holds the role Todd Gordon had on the No. 22 team starting in 2012 before Logano took over the ride in 2013. Jeremy Bullins moves into Wolfeâs spot, while Gordon is paired with Ryan Blaney on the No. 12.
â(Iâm) just trying to keep track of which hauler Iâm supposed to walk into now,â Wolfe said. âWhen you walk into the 2 (hauler) for 10 years and the Miller colors. Now being on the 22, thereâs been plenty of confusion when guys are talking about cars and car numbers. Weâll have to get all that sorted out.â
Added Wolfe: âThe short time Joey and I have been together here, itâs only been just a week, it really gets you thinking about things that just kind of became natural for you when youâve been with someone, with a team for 10 years, just the way you go about business everyday and how you look at things and your approach into a race weekend.â
Wolfe said he and Keselowski were âfortunate enoughâ to have a decade run that saw them win the 2012 Cup title (Team Penskeâs first) and 29 Cup races, including the 2018 Brickyard 400 (Team Penskeâs first win in the race) and the Southern 500 (the teamâs first Cup win at Darlington since 1975).
âItâs tough when you have to leave something like that,â Wolfe told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. âYouâre always looking forward and trying to figure out how to be better. I think as I look at our company as a whole, I think the boss man (Roger Penske) thought this could shake things up. You know, maybe spark some new ideas and things mixing the guys up.
Wolfe cited Penske when he referred to how differently he, Gordon and Bullins approach their job.
âRoger always says we all have the same cars âŠ and everyoneâs got the same equipment,â Wolfe said. âI donât play golf, but he makes a reference to everyone holds their seven iron a little bit different. I think thatâs kind of the same way with the drivers and the crew chiefs. We all have the same tools and things to work with, but thereâs different thoughts and ideas and theories on how to make it all work and how to use all those things.
âTrying to understand where Joeyâs at on some of those things. Brad and Joey are both winning, championship drivers. But with that being said, they have different styles and techniques and ways they see the race play out. Trying to really understand and get the communication part down.â
Wolfe and Logano wonât be in a garage together until Feb. 8 for the Cup Seriesâ first practice sessions at Daytona International Speedway. In the meantime, the new duo is figuring each other out with the help of simulators.
â(You) try to understand Joeyâs level when heâs telling us a car is a one or a two or a three loose,â Wolfe said. âYou try to understand, âOK, how much of an adjustment is that for Joey or what do we need to do to fix that complaint?â Now we have simulators and thatâs the next closest thing weâre going to do to getting on the race track.
âThe simulators have come a long ways and they still could be better and weâre working with them to try and make them better. But thereâs definitely one thing that it is good for and itâs just that communication piece and making changes and trying things and just talking on the radio to understand a little bit of the lingo.â