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Sliced Bread: The Rise of Joey Logano

Ashley McCubbinAnalyst IJanuary 19, 2009

Joey Logano has been called the next big, the next Jeff Gordon, and nicknamed “Sliced Bread”. But can he live up to all the hype when Logano makes it to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series?

At the age of six, Logano began racing by driving a quarter midget in Connecticut in 1996, and won the championship in 1997 in the Eastern Grand National Jr. Stock Car Division. That was just the beginning. In 1998 he won the Jr. Honda Division Championship and in 1999 he won the Late Model Division Champion and three New England Regional Championships (Sr. Stock, Lt. Mod, Lt. B).

The Logano family then relocated to Georgia to spend more time helping his sister with her figure skating career, which in return gave Logano an opportunity to continue his success. This allowed Logano to win a Bandolero Bandits Series Championship. A year later at the age of 10, he raced the Legends cars, where he won the Lions National Championship and set a 14-consecutive winning streak track record at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Then at the age of 12, Logano won the Southeast-based Pro Legends National Championships. He then spent the couple of years following that racing various forms of pavement Late Model cars.

While Logano was racing in the Late Model Series, Mark Martin tagged Logano as “the real deal” and said, "I am high on Joey Logano because I am absolutely, 100-percent positive, without a doubt that he can be one of the greatest that ever raced in NASCAR. I'm positive. There's no doubt in my mind."

The following year, Logano ran one NASCAR Pro-Truck Series race at New Smyrna Speedway, doing well as he started first and finished second. That same year he also raced in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series, competing seven times in the Northern Division and winning once at Mansfield, two Southern Division races and all five Championship Series races. The following season, Logano continued racing in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series Southern Division, winning twice at South Georgia Motorsports Park and at USA International Speedway.

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In 2007, Logano ran in the Camping World East Series where he won the championship by winning five races (Greensville-Pickens, Iowa, New Hampshire(x2) and Adirondack) while ending the season with 3 poles, 10 Top 5’s and 10 Top 10’s. While on the way to winning the East Championship, he made one start in the NASCAR West Series and he won after starting second. Logano then entered the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway and led 87 laps—going on to win after holding off runner-up Peyton Sellers.

2008 would be a big year for Logano, making his debut in many of the major series.

On May 4th, Logano made his first start in the ARCA RE/MAX Series in the Carolina 500 at Rockingham Speedway—and won, driving for Venturini Motorsports.

On May 31st, 2008, Logano made his first start in the Nationwide Series at Dover International Speedway ,in the Heluva Good! 300, just after turning 18. In his third start, he won the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway and by doing that, he became the youngest driver to win a Nationwide Series race at the age of 18 years and 21 days old.

The 2008 year continued to be a big year for Logano. On August 25, 2008, Joe Gibbs Racing called a press conference to announce that Logano will drive the #20 Home Depot Toyota Camry in the 2009 Sprint Cup Series. On September 5, 2008, Logano was schedule to make his first start in Sprint Cup Series at Richmond International Speedway but due to tropical storm Hanna and the #02 not being in the top 35 in owner’s points, he didn’t get to make his debut. He did, however, get to make his first start the following weekend in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway, driving for 'Hall of Fame Racing' where he qualified 40th and finished 32nd. Logano has three Cup starts to date and his finishes were 32nd, 39th and 40th, therefore not living up to the hype.

A lot of people say that Logano didn’t do that well because 'Hall of Fame Racing' was not a stellar team while Joe Gibbs Racing is. The question now though remains is, can Logano live up to all the hype and do well. The question will be answered in 2009 when he’ll drive the #20 Home Depot Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, with veteran crew chief Greg Zippidelli and Tony Stewart’s entire team from last season.

The #20 team proved that they can be a top contending team. Everything will all rest on Joey’s shoulders because if he doesn’t do well, there’s nobody else to blame in this situation.

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