Are Joey Logano and Scott Speed Ready For Sprint Cup Competition?

Richard DeveauCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2009

The competition level in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is no doubt huge as winning the championship or even making the Chase are both very difficult tasks to do.

Seems to me, with the competition level the way it is, you would need experience behind the wheel of a race car.

I look at the potential rookie of the year contenders, Joey Logano and Scott Speed, and I think to myself, "Are these guys ready for the big leagues?"

Logano is in some of the best equipment you could possibly have in NASCAR, driving the No. 20 for Joe Gibbs Racing, a car that has been champion with Tony Stewart twice, including two wins in the famed Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Logano certainly has talent behind the wheel of a race car, winning the NASCAR Camping World East Series championship in his rookie year. He also won his first ARCA Re/Max Series race by almost lapping the entire field.

Making his debut last summer in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, it did not take him long to find his way into victory lane, winning his first race at Kentucky and getting 14 top tens in only 19 starts.

But is he ready for Sprint Cup competition?

In my opinion, no.

This is not ARCA or the Camping World Series, this is the Sprint Cup Series. The competition level is too high, drivers need more experience from either the NASCAR Nationwide Series or the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

All Logano has, is less than half a season of Nationwide Series races; definitely not enough to be successful right off the bat in the Sprint Cup Series.

In three or four years, he could be competitive. But if he is unsuccessful due to the fact he isn't ready, his confidence will plunge into a deep hole, and it will be extremely difficult to find it back.

Same goes for Scott Speed.

Speed has proved to us that he is a very talented racer, but we haven't seen much of him in Sprint Cup competition yet.

As a rookie coming from the open wheel world, Speed started his stock car racing career in the ARCA Re/Max Series.

I thought this was a good move, to prepare to be a Sprint Cup driver one day and not rush him into the big leagues.

Speed had success in the ARCA Re/Max Series, leading the points most of the time, until Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s dirty driving cost him that championship.

He also did very good in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series(now known as NASCAR Camping World Truck Series) winning a race at Dover International Speedway.

So I thought to myself, if Scott Speed goes on a few more years racing trucks or in the Nationwide Series, he could do some serious damage in the Sprint Cup Series some day.

But the day Red Bull Racing announced he would drive for the Sprint Cup team, I immediately thought it was a huge mistake.

Not only did they hire an inexperienced driver, having only one year of ARCA racing and half a season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, but they got rid of an improving and upcoming contender, AJ Allmendinger.

Now one year of stock car racing experience is definitely not enough to be a Sprint Cup driver.

He may have driven in Formula 1, but so has Juan Pablo Montoya, which except for his road course win at Infineon, hasn't done much.

Speed ran the last few races of the 2008 Sprint Cup season, finishing lower than 30th in all races except for a fourteenth place finish at the Ford Championship weekend in Homestead.

Now a team that his doing this the smart way, is Hendrick Motorsports. Brad Keselowski, when he gets into a Sprint Cup Series ride for a full season, he will be a threat.

Keselowski currently has one and a half seasons in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finishing third in points last year. He is ready for another one in 2009.

This year he will run 10 races for Phoenix Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, just to learn.

He is expected to take the No. 5 car, after Mark Martin retires. He will then be more than ready for Sprint Cup competition and he will immediately be one to watch for.

Drivers I hope are never rushed in are Brian Clauson, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing prospect, and Justin Allgaier, developmental driver for Penske Racing.

In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the biggest level of stock car racing anywhere, you need experience to bump wheels with the big boys.