Joey Logano: A Look At NASCAR's Next Big Thing
Joey Logano is the future of Gibbs Racing. Is there any question about that?
The eighteen year old from Middletown, CT was called not only the future of NASCAR, but the best driver the sport would have to offer. Coming from Mark Martin, not only a legend but the man who discovered 2003 champion Matt Kenseth, that's not half bad.
To make it better, Martin went on to say Logano would be the best man- well, then a fifteen year old kid- to replace him when he retired.
Logano, or "Sliced Bread" as he's nicknamed, began racing quarter midgets at six years old while living in Conneticut. The next year, he won his first Eastern Grand National Championship in the Junior Stock Car Division. That was followed up by back to back titles in 1998 and 1999 in the Junior Honda Division and Late Model Division, respectively.
When Joey was nine the family moved to Georgia to help further his sister's figure skating dreams. This let a ten year old Logano win his Bandolero Bandits Series championship. He began racing Legend cars and set an impressive 14-consecutive win streak at the Atlanta Motor Speedway- a track record. Before spending a couple of years in Late Model pavement racing, Logano won the Southeast-based Pro Legends National championship. He was twelve.
At 15, Logano made on FASCAR Pro Truck Series race at New Smya where he started on pole and finished an impressive second. He also competed in seven Northern Division USAR Hooter's Pro Cup Series events, winning at Mansfield in just his second start. He was also the youngest winner in series history. Joey also won two Southern Division races and five Championship Series races.
But 2005 was a controversial year for the young phenom. He signed a developmental deal with Joe Gibbs Racing, severing ties with Roush Racing. Geoff Smith, President of Roush, was very critical of Logano's father Tom, claiming he'd used Roush as leverage to get Joey a better deal. The older Logano felt differently, saying the only person from the company to ever see his son race was Mark Martin. He also said Roush told him Smith would never sign his teenage son.
So the following season, 2006, Logano continued his success in Hooter's Pro Cup. Winning two of twelve races in the Southern Division and scoring ten top tens (including three top fives). Sliced Bread also won his first pole at Myrtle Beach and finished fifth overall in points. Logano ran one Northern Division race and six Championship Series races.
A new NASCAR rule was instated in 2007, allowing drivers aged 16 and up to compete in the Grand National Series. Sense a pattern, readers? Joey Logano competed in thirteen then Busch East Series events, earning five wins, ten top fives and ten top tens. He also won in his only Busch West start.
October of that year saw Logano lead 87 laps and win the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway. Logano made his first- and only- ARCA RE/MAX Series start in May 2008 in Rockingham. And yes, he won that race too.
The rest of the story you can tell yourself. Just a week after he turned eighteen, Joey Logano made his first Nationwide Series start at Dover International Speedway. While he finished sixth, Sliced Bread said after the race he was "disappointed" with his run. But that mood improved just two weeks later, after the kid phenom won his second pole.
Logano won in his third start, the 2008 Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway by 2.2 seconds over Scott Wimmer, after leading 76 laps. And what did the star have to say after his first win? Something NASCAR fans already had on their minds.
Things may be getting even more unbelievable. Before Logano is able to have an alcohol sponsor on his car, he could be driving a NASCAR Cup Series car, replacing Tony Stewart next year in the Home Depot Toyota. Sliced Bread has admitted he could move to Cup but JGR has yet to confirm the speculation.
Will Joey Logano really be the next big thing in NASCAR? You'll just have to stay tuned.
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