Joey Logano Could Be Next First-Time Winner

Mark RudiCorrespondent IMay 25, 2009

CONCORD, NC - MAY 21: Joey Logano, driver of the #20 Home Depot Toyota, waits in his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 on May 21, 2009 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Joey Logano came into a difficult situation at the beginning of the season.

When Tony Stewart announced that he was leaving Joe Gibbs Racing to form Stewart/Haas Racing, Gibbs decided to turn to the then-18-year-old Logano.

Logano, who's nicknamed "Sliced Bread" by two-time Busch Series Champion Randy LaJoie, was put in the No. 20 Home Depot Chevy a year earlier then Gibbs would have liked and it showed at the beginning of the season.

Logano finished dead last in the Daytona 500 after wrecking early and only had two finishes in the top 15 in the first seven races. During that stretch, he finished 30th or worse five times.

After Martinsville, he was 34th in the points standings and in danger falling out of the top 35 in owner's points. There were even rumors that Gibbs was going to replace Logano with Martin Truex Jr.

But ever since a Nationwide Series victory at Nashville April 11, Logano has come on strong. He's only finished outside the top 10 twice in Sprint Cup action since his Nationwide victory, and he's racked up three top 10s in the five races since.

That includes a ninth place finish at Darlington, a place not kind to rookies, and he even led 19 laps at "The Track Too Tough To Tame."

He's also climbed to 25th in points after a ninth place, running as high as fourth, finish in the Coca-Cola 600 Monday.

"Momentum is starting to kick in for sure," Logano said to, signing autographs for hundreds of fans in line at the Home Depot in Cornelius, N.C., on Friday.

"You know we had a rough start and that pretty much puts you in a hole. And now I think, even a couple races before Darlington, we were starting to get better.”

“We kept improving and the confidence level with me and the team keeps improving and it is shows in our finishes and how we run."

I think that Nationwide win gave Logano some confidence and the team hasn't given up on him. Crew chief Greg Zippideli and Gibbs have complete confidence with the 19-year-old rookie.

They're making the car right for Logano and it was reported on FOX’s telecast of the Coke 600 that the team is no longer using notes from last season. Not to mention that Logano is under the wing of teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.

Even Cale Yarborough had been working with Logano, showing him around Darlington Raceway.

In the next few weeks, expect to see Logano racking off top 10 and top five finishes and maybe even a win. He could be the next first-time winner in the Sprint Cup Series.

If Logano picks up a win from now until the middle of next season, he would become the youngest driver ever to win a Sprint Cup race. The youngest is Busch, who won at California in September 2005 at just 20 years and 125 days.

Only time will tell if Logano makes the Chase for the Sprint Cup, since he’s 283 points behind 12th place, but if things keep going right, a victory and the Chase could be in sight.

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