Joey Logano's ARCA Win at Pocono Valuable Seat Time: The Stats Prove It
There's really no way to put a spin on it...Joey Logano made winning the Pocono 200 ARCA race on Saturday look really easy.
It took him only 15 laps to get to the front of the pack. His toughest competition on the track, Parker Kligerman, fell victim to multiple left front tire failures and was unable to mount a steady charge against Logano's Toyota.
And polesitter Justin Lofton had absolutely nothing for Logano on a late restart, leaving him completely unmolested for the race's final five lap run.
One look at the straightaway speed that Logano's Toyota had made it very clear that his No. 25 Camry was the class of the field, and that a handful of competitors, if that, actually had a chance to contend with him for this victory.
But, despite a disparity in equipment that made the Pocono 200 Logano's even before the green flag dropped, the decision to put "Sliced Bread" in a race that he was sure to dominate was an astute one by the folks at Joe Gibbs Racing.
Because as recent Cup history has shown, getting Cup rookies seat time in an ARCA car at Pocono has proven invaluable...and the statistics back that claim up. Just look at the recent history of Cup rookies that have run ARCA's 200 milers on the Pennsylvania triangle.
In 2003, Casey Mears won ARCA races on back to back days prior to the Cup show in July (the June ARCA race was rained out). That Sunday, he led eight laps (more than he led the rest of the season combined) and was running on the lead lap before a late race wreck (he finished off the lead lap in his first Cup start at Pocono in June).
2004 saw Scott Riggs come from the back of the field to hold off Ken Schrader and win the 200-miler in June. The next day in the Cup show, Riggs turned in a 16th place finish. When the Cup circuit returned to Pocono in July, Riggs didn't run the ARCA race, and ended up finishing the Cup show outside the top 20.
Travis Kvapil dominated the 2005 ARCA race in June, winning from the pole in a Penske-prepared Dodge before finishing 17th in the Cup race. Upon returning in July, with no ARCA seat-time, Kvapil finished 38th in the Pennsylvania 500.
Even David Stremme, who after winning the pole for the June ARCA race in 2006 managed to complete only two laps before bowing out with transmission failures, posted a better finish in the June Cup race than in the July event.
In fact, the only two Cup rookies since 2003 to run the June ARCA race at Pocono and not post improved Cup results with the extra seat time are Paul Menard and Johnny Sauter...two drivers that have shown no aptitude for Pocono, period.
In their respective Cup careers, Menard and Sauter have average career finishes of 30.2 and 38.0, respectively. Plus, Menard struggled all through Cup happy hour practice on Saturday, posting the 36th fastest time while being outrun by teams including Furniture Row Racing and TRG Motorsports.
It's naive to think that because Logano was able to convincingly put the ARCA field to rest on Saturday that he's ready to score a Cup victory in Sunday's Pocono 500.
But past history has shown that the seat-time and the confidence that he gained Saturday will translate into cold hard results. A top 20 finish tomorrow would be another solid performance for a youngster that's starting to figure out big-time stock car racing.
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