Joey Logano Hyped Early, Struggles As of Late

Mark Eckhart Jr.Correspondent INovember 4, 2008

The 2008 NASCAR season kicked off without a problem. The Daytona produced a finish worth remembering and gave Roger Penske his first Daytona victory.

In early May we heard about a young up and coming driver through Joe Gibbs Racing. He was being called "the best thing since sliced bread."  Joey Logano made an immediate impact just after his 18th birthday.

Logano came out firing on all cylinders, began sitting on poles and running towards the front in his very first start. He even achieved his first NASCAR record in his very short career when he became the youngest winner in Nationwide Series history after winning in Kentucky.

After that win we all thought Logano was the real deal and he'd be a multiple winner in the series, especially since he's behind the wheel of the most dominant car in the entire series.

Logano stayed steadily consistent in the weeks following his victory, but then something happened. Something changed the dynamic of this young driver.

Lets flashback to the road race in Montreal. A race that was run for the first time on rain tires, I'm still not convinced it was a good idea. There was standing water all over the racetrack. NASCAR is usually pretty good about making these decisions, but they dropped the ball here.

Logano was running in the fourth position under a late caution flag, when suddenly he lost control of his car due to the standing water. He spun straight into the fence, abruptly ending his day and taking a potential top five finish away from him because NASCAR chose to finish that race on a somewhat flooded racetrack. Maybe it's just me, but since that race I haven't seen the same Joey Logano.

It was around that time that Logano announced that he would be taking over Tony Stewart's ride for the 2009 Cup Season and lately has been running in the series to get some experience.

Unfortunately for Logano he's performed so poorly, the only TV time he gets during a race is when he's getting put a lap down. He blamed the first few races on the equipment that HOFracing supplied him with, but last week in Texas he was in JGR equipment.

Who's to blame for that one Joey?

I feel that Logano is making this move to Cup too early, he should take a few years in the Nationwide series and get some experience first. Look at guys like Martin Truex, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Brian Vickers, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, and Carl Edwards.

All of these drivers took extra seasons in the Nationwide series to gain more experience so that they would be ready for the cup level. These are championship winning drivers, and all of them have won races on the Sprint Cup level.

I feel that Logano has begun to fold under the pressure and in 2009 it's all going to be on him. He's the one who has been grabbing all of the hype, even Mark Martin said that this kid was something special and that's saying something.

Logano should follow the steps of another young driver, Brad Keselowski. Keselowski is going to continue to run in the Nationwide Series and be mentored by one of the best in Mark Martin. You know that when Keselowski hits the Cup Series full time, presumably in 2010 or 2011, he'll be ready.

Like Darrell Waltrip has always said, "you can't buy experience." When both guys are full time at the Cup level, Keselowski will have more experience coming in than Logano did and I think that will pay off over the course of their careers.

Now there's always an exception to making the move to the Cup Series immediately and in this case it's Jimmie Johnson.

Look how things worked out for him.