It’s getting close, NASCAR fans—the start of the 2009 season, which kicks off in nine days with the Budweiser Shootout.
Today is Day 27 of my 35-Day venture into the world of NASCAR’s top-35 teams in owner points.
Today, we look at who many have determined to be the next Jeff Gordon and the greatest thing since “Sliced Bread.”
Is anyone else tired of hearing about bread?
Joey Logano has a lot of pressure on himself this season. Not only the title he has to live up to, but he fills the seat of two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart.
While he has been wildly successful at every level he has competed in, Logano has yet to prove he can compete with the big boys in NASCAR.
Of course, he has only been in a couple races, but he didn’t fare so well. (Say what you want about the fact that he was in the No. 96, but it was more or less Gibbs equipment, and by the way—Tony Raines had no problem keeping the team near the Top 20.)
Joe Gibbs Racing now lacks the leadership role it once had with Stewart, and is left with three drivers under the age of 23. It will be interesting to see throughout the year how the three “young guns” can mature together and keep their cool under pressure.
Here is a look at NASCAR’s youngest driver:
Today’s Spotlight: No. 20
Team: Joe Gibbs Racing
Driver: Joey Logano
Driver 2008 Stats: Logano won $262,000 in three Cup Series starts last year. He managed zero top-fives and/or top-10s and averaged a finish of 37th. In the Nationwide Series, Logano started 19 races, had one win, five top-fives and 14 top-10 finishes en route to a ninth place average finish.
News: Much like yesterday’s preview of Kyle Busch, this team has no major news. Logano enters the 2009 season competing for Raybestos Rookie of the Year, and with a lot of pressure on his 18-year-old shoulders.
The only real news for this team is that Logano will run the season-opener at Daytona in the ARCA Re/Max Series. He will drive the No. 25 Venturini Motorsports car in a joint partnership with Gibbs Racing. In addition to the season opener, Logano will also pilot the No. 25 at Pocono in June.
My Prediction for 2009: Logano will flop in 2009 and the media will have a field day writing stories about how over-hyped he was entering the season. I’m not saying he will finish the season without a couple top-10s or maybe even a top-five here and there, but he won’t do what everyone is expecting him to do—compete for wins every weekend.
His learning curve is still too sharp and he will finish somewhere in the neighborhood of 20th to 25th in the points.
Will this team remain in top-35: Yes—if not, he’s so grounded!
Up Tomorrow: No. 11 Denny Hamlin
This story also appears on my blog: Sports 101
Reminder: Only 9 days until the Budweiser Shootout!