Will Joey Logano's Nashville Nationwide Win Translate Into Cup Success?

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IApril 11, 2009

Joey Logano scored his first win of the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide season and hoisted the Nashville guitar over his head in victory lane.

Logano battled all day long in his No. 20 Game Stop race car, running feverishly against his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch. 

After many lead exchanges, Logano was able to finally get around Busch and take the coveted checkered flag in the Nashville 500.

As he stepped out of his car after doing some well-deserved burnouts and avoiding damage to his car as strongly instructed by his crew chief, Logano was all smiles, grinning in that funny way that only 18-year-olds seem to be able to do.

Logano did indeed seem to savor this victory, most likely made even sweeter by the challenges he is currently facing in his Nascar Sprint Cup ride.

Logano came into the Cup series with great and high expectations, stepping into the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota vacated by Tony Stewart. 

Even with the great hopes for Logano, some felt the teenager was too young and green to take command of this very visible ride.

But team owner Joe Gibbs saw something in the young driver that convinced him that the time was right to let Logano go Cup racing.  After all, Gibbs is the "coach" and is masterful at spotting and nurturing burgeoning talent.

Others also liked what they saw in this rookie driver, who had risen up from the ranks of the Camping World Series West, particularly showing off in that series' championship race, The Toyota All Star Showdown.

Dubbed the "best thing since sliced bread" after his meteoric rise, the nickname for Logano was shortened to simply "Sliced Bread" and has stuck with the boy ever since.

But in the Cup series at least, Logano has far from met the hype and the high expectations.  His best start in his Cup ride has been in the ninth spot at the Daytona 500 race. 

In spite of his good starting position, Logano was unable to seal the deal, finishing that race dead last in the 43rd position. 

So far, Logano's average starting position in his Cup car has been 24.6 and his average finish so far in the 2009 season has been 30.3.

Logano is currently in the 35th position in points, on the cusp of having to qualify his way into the races. 

Although running for the Rookie of the Year in the Cup series, he has fared only slightly better than his rival Scott Speed, who currently is himself out of the top 35 in points and even failed to make the last race.

So, will Logano's great performance and Nationwide race win this weekend help him on the Cup side of the house? 

It really is hard to tell, especially since there is little, if any, cross over between the Nationwide series and the Cup series, especially with the current differences in the cars.

This particular race did not even gain Logano the precious seat time that is so often critical for success, as the Cup series does not race at the Nashville Superspeedway.

The one area, however, that might translate from Logano's Nationwide win to his Cup program is the often overlooked but important area, that of the driver's confidence in himself. 

There is no doubt that Logano has lost confidence in himself due to his poor Cup performance to date.

There have also been rumors that others have lost confidence in Logano's Cup level expertise, with other drivers even being suggested to take his place in the coveted number 20 ride.

While Coach Gibbs and the Joe Gibbs Racing program have expressed their commitment to young Logano, the driver himself has recently seemed distracted and somewhat doubting of himself in his Cup car.

This Nationwide win, then, could be just the confidence booster that Logano needs to step up his Cup performance.  He most surely had fun in the car for the first time in many races, as evidenced by that ear to ear grin in Victory Lane.

And we should all look out for Joey "Sliced Bread" Logano if he does indeed start having some fun in his Home Depot Cup ride.