Joey Logano's Home Depot Ride Is Over, Next Stop Penske Racing?
Some secrets are hard to keep in the media-driven world of NASCAR.
One such secret will be unveiled by Joe Gibbs Racing Tuesday, but with the displacement of Joey Logano, we wait for the young driver's future to be announced.
There are a few cars that have become iconic in the sport with their color and number. Logano has been fortunate enough to pilot one such car at JGR, the Home Depot No. 20, made famous by Tony Stewart.
Matt Kenseth stunned followers of NASCAR with his announcement in late June that he would be leaving Roush Fenway Racing after a 17-year relationship.
He would not disclose where he was moving.
The formal announcement of Kenseth taking over the No. 20 Home Depot ride in 2013 is no surprise.
Logano may have lost his prestigious ride, but his future could look even brighter if he takes over as the driver of the Penske Ford in 2013 that is sponsored by Shell/Pennzoil.
Logano started driving for JGR when he was 16 years old in the lower series. He was moved to the Cup series and the No. 20 in 2009, when Stewart became the owner/driver at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Perhaps Logano was moved to the top NASCAR series a bit prematurely, but he has two wins to his credit, one of which was a win as the youngest Cup driver in history at 19 years, one month and four days.
His second win came this year, and he considers that his first real win being that rain was involved in the first one. This season he has two top-five and eight top-10 finishes, with an average of 17.8.
Logano is currently 18th in points and though he has not set the world on fire with a stunning record of wins in NASCAR's premier series, he has matured during his tenure at Joe Gibbs Racing.
J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR, was quoted in an article by Bob Pockrass of Sporting News.
He stated, "Our hope was really with Joey, we would continue with him. I think he's looking at some other possibilities, some other options."
It appeared JGR would not be able to field another Cup car for Logano on a full-time basis because of sponsorship. The driver would have been relegated to drive for the title in the Nationwide series.
Penske Racing is the other option Logano has apparently negotiated with for a 2013 deal. He may well wheel the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford next year.
Currently, that car has been driven by Sam Hornish Jr. who has done an admirable job, given the unexpected circumstances that put him in the car.
He replaced A.J. Allmendinger who was fired after a positive drug test.
Penske Racing dropped Dodge and aligned with Ford in a strong partnership that will start next year. They are expected to field a third car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Hornish will likely drive that car.
Driver potential is the key ingredient Penske Racing looks for in a driver. They tend to go with talented young drivers. Brad Keselowski is a prime example of how they expect their drivers to develop.
With the formal announcement of Kenseth driving for Joe Gibbs Racing on Tuesday, it would be awkward to not announce where Logano will be driving.
David Newton of ESPN.com reported that sources say Penske Racing will confirm that Logano will drive for them as early as Tuesday.
A move from Joe Gibbs Racing may be just what is needed for Logano to kick-start wins and top-10 finishes. He fits the mold of Penske Racing drivers and should fit in well with Keselowski and Hornish.
Once the cat is officially out of the bag with JGR, look for the other not so big secret to be revealed by Penske Racing. The future looks bright for Logano, especially if he gets the bright yellow car.
Opinions expressed are strictly those of the writer.
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