At The Age Of 19: Joey Logano Makes History Of His Own

Sal Sigala Jr.Senior Analyst INovember 29, 2009

AVONDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 13:  Joey Logano, driver of the #20 Home Depot Toyota, sits in his car on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 13, 2009 in Avondale, AZ.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

With all the publicity surrounding Jimmie Johnson’s historic accomplishment of winning four championships in a row along with Hendrick Motorsports capturing the top three spots in the Sprint cup point standings, a major story has gone almost unnoticed.

There was still one more history-making, record-breaking accomplishment that took place in the life of NASCAR’s youngest Sprint cup driver that has been overshadowed.

This young driver and his fellow contenders challenged each other all year long for an award that can only be won once and disputed in their first full year in the series.

There was no hype, and there was no excitement amongst the fans that usually follows a record-breaking accomplishment. Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Home Depot sponsored Toyota, at the age of 19 became the series’ youngest Rookie of the Year, while beating out fellow Rookie of the Year contender Scott Speed, driver of the No. 82 Red Bull sponsored Toyota by 33 points.

Logano also became the third JGR driver to capture the award behind Tony Stewart (1999) who left the team after the 2008 season, and current teammate Denny Hamlin in 2006. Logano who came into the series tabbed as the next best thing since sliced bread, at the age of 18 was tried, convicted, and sentenced by some of the fans who acted on behalf of the judge, jury and the rest of the racing world.

Logano was treated a lot differently than most rookies who have entered the series, and it was evident when the fans as well as the media began screaming foul while slamming down the gavel handing Logano a death sentence before he had a chance to prove himself.

“It was tough at times, believe me. You know the media wasn’t saying the greatest things but if anything it’s more motivating. You really want to keep pushing it and become a better race car driver,” he said.

Logano also said that, “Hopefully through the offseason here we can test a little bit and get some more seat time in these things and come better next year.”

There were many arguments that were brought before the young driver, which ranged from his lack of experience, all the way to his daddy’s money might be able to buy him a cup ride, but it can’t buy success.

Now in reality, are those two examples, along with the many others that were written about, reason enough to not give this young driver a fair chance at NASCAR stardom?

Especially since NASCAR is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate against, ability, accomplishments, or the desire to be a cup driver.

Now even if that was the case, then how many other drivers should we put before the judge and the jury, because in reality there are maybe five to 10 drivers that truly belong in the series according to the standards that most had already put Logano up against that were far beyond rookie status.

The society that we live in wants to see instant results. We have no patience, especially when it comes to our beloved sports. The fans always want the microwave version of results, or in other words, who cares that some things take time and that not all drivers develop at the same high rate of speed as others.

Is it really fair to pre-judge not only him, but also any rookie driver before they have completed at least one full season?

He might not look like the driver who will be next in line to take NASCAR by storm today, but no one knows what tomorrow will bring. And this season Logano has proven that he does belong racing with the best while putting aside all the pre-conceived notions, that his daddy’s money is what bought him his success.

Because in the high stakes game of auto racing all the money in the world cannot buy the desire or the skill that it takes to maneuver a 3,500-pound car at the speeds that these drivers race at.

Logano, who left the season opener at Daytona 43rd in points, made great strides throughout the following weeks to finish 20th in points, while adding one win, three tops-fives and seven top-10 finishes to become NASCAR’s 55th rookie of the year.

“It’s really cool to get the Raybestos Rookie of the Year. It’s obviously one of our big goals. I’ve got to thank The Home Depot for sticking behind me throughout the year,” Logano said.

“(That) we had a real rough start and finished 20th in the points, I guess is okay. In the beginning of the season if you had told me that’s where we were going to finish I’d have been ecstatic about it but now you always want better.”


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