Sunday, May 27, 2018
Sports

All you need to know about NASCAR's Joey Logano

He has won a bevy of championships at various levels in earning his first NASCAR Nationwide series start today at Dover. So did most of the drivers who made it to the highest levels of racing. The difference: He hasn't raced against a field comprised of drivers his age since he was 8. Much of the time the field was twice his age and experience level. But Logano won his second start in the USAR series at 15 and a title in the NASCAR East series at 17.
Joe Gibbs Racing, which hired him in 2005, could eventually add a fourth Sprint Cup car for him, or he could replace two-time series champion Tony Stewart if he leaves for another team after 2009. Mark Martin has predicted glory, so the kid's worth watching.

How daunting is it to be 18 years old and bringing the weight of so much anticipation and expectation into your first Nationwide series start?

I went in the Camping World East series, the same thing. You've got to have that confidence. I think I can run up front here right off the bat. I don't see why not. I've got a great team behind me. I've got no excuses, that's for sure.

Are those expectations fair, though?

It's something I've been through before. When I was 14 and running ASA cars, I had to run clean with everybody to gain their respect. That's a big role. I'll be running against these guys for a long time. You've definitely got to treat them right. You've got to stick your head down. You get a lot of respect running people hard and running them clean, and they think that's cool. You can't just roll over and die for them, though, that's not a way to do it either. That's just something I've done my whole life, learned about it and know if you race them hard, they'll have fun with you. They won't wreck me.

Do you miss being a regular kid?

Nah, I'd rather drive race cars. I still think I'm a regular guy besides all this stuff. I'm a racer. I wouldn't do anything different, ever. I wouldn't trade this for anything. I'm home-schooled. I'd rather go racing than go to a regular school. All my friends are the same way — Chase (Austin), Corey Lajoie, Brandon McReynolds — all those kids, racing is their life.

What was it like to have Mark Martin anoint you one of the best NASCAR drivers ever … at 15?

It's cool. I promise you that. When I was 15 and he said that, it definitely was a big confidence-booster. You've got to take it one at a time and go to win every race. When Gibbs says I'm ready, we're going to go.

Is it hard to be patient?

Yeah, but my birthday (May 24) is exactly the wrong time for racing. I've always had to wait. I had to be 14 for ASA, 15 for Pro Cup, 16 for Camping World East, so I'm kind of used to waiting for May, but it kind of stinks because you can't run for points or rookie of the year for that. But it's nothing you can change.

What they're saying about Joey Logano

Mark Martin said in 2005 that Joey Logano, whom he had seen race against his son, Matt, would be his pick to replace him at retirement. Logano was 15 at the time.

"I am high on Joey Logano because I am absolutely, 100 percent positive, without a doubt that he can be one of the greatest that ever raced in NASCAR. I'm positive. There's no doubt in my mind."

Bill Venturini, who owns the team that helped Logano dominate in winning his first ARCA race at Rockingham, N.C., said Logano is "ready to go Cup racing." Venturini had tried to sign the teen at 15 before his father, Tom, committed to Joe Gibbs Racing. Venturini said the perception that Logano benefited from Gibbs equipment is false.

"The only thing Gibbs did was give me money to put their name on the quarterpanel," he said. "Gibbs had nothing to do with it."

The age issue

NASCAR president Mike Helton suggested that if the series ever institutes an age minimum for Sprint Cup (21 was widely speculated about before the season) it would likely be done in a way that would not curtail Logano's progress.

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