The Frontstretch: 2013 NASCAR Driver Review: Joey Logano by Brad Morgan -- Monday December 16, 2013

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2013 NASCAR Driver Review: Joey Logano

Brad Morgan · Monday December 16, 2013


2013 Ride(s): No. 22 Penske Racing Sprint Cup Series Ford
No. 22 Penske Racing Nationwide Series Ford
No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing Camping World Truck Series Ford

2013 Primary Sponsor(s):
NSCS: Shell, Pennzoil, Auto Club of Southern California, AAA Insurance, Hertz, AAA
NNS: Discount Tire, Penske Truck Rental, NASCAR Unites, Hertz
NCWTS: Reese Towpower, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Draw-Tite

2013 Owner(s):
NSCS and NNS: Roger Penske
NCWTS: Brad Keselowski

2013 Crew Chief(s):
NSCS: Todd Gordon
NNS: Jeremy Bullins
NCWTS: Chad Kendrick

NSCS: 36 races, 1 win, 11 top 5s, 19 top 10s, 2 poles, 8th in points.
NNS: 15 races, 3 wins, 8 top 5s, 12 top 10s, 1 pole.
NCWTS: 3 races, 2 top 5s, 2 top 10s.

Best Finish:
NSCS: 1st, Michigan – August.
NNS: 1st (three times), Dover – June, Chicagoland – July, Dover – September.
NCWTS: 2nd – Rockingham.

Average Finish:
NSCS: 14.1.
NNS: 5.9.
NCWTS: 10.0.

Joey Logano

2013 Team Ranking (NSCS): 1st of 2. Logano led the way for Penske in his first season with the organization, beating out teammate and 2012 series champion Brad Keselowski en route to a Chase berth.

High Point: Logano chose the perfect moment for a breakout. Over a six-race span shortly before the Chase, the 23-year-old scored more points than any other Cup driver. In that time – from Indianapolis through Atlanta – Logano posted no finish worse than eighth and found Victory Lane for the third time in his young career.

Talk about a turnaround! Logano overcame multiple altercations, during which he was forced to defend his honor, plus the loss of points stemming from a rules infraction at Texas Motor Speedway to dive straight into the heart of the playoff battle over a matter of weeks. That jump from 18th to eighth in the standings was inevitably enough to embed him in the Chase.

Low Point: The worst of times for Logano occurred just before his recovery. Bouts with Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart, plus the loss of valuable points, would prove to be only the beginning of a stressful early-season stretch.

Back-to-back races at Daytona and Loudon over the summer ended what first appeared to be his best attempt to stage a comeback. In those events, disappointment came early and often. At DIS, Logano cut a tire and smacked the wall hard enough to ruin the aerodynamics of the No. 22; his chance to maintain the draft was toast. The following week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Logano lost control of his Ford and wrecked by himself after only four laps. Those twin 40th-place finishes really hurt, but the lowest of lows came when Logano took out his front tire changer Jay Hackney while attempting a 180-degree spin in the pits after repairs from that NHMS accident.

Summary: In Logano’s case, the 2013 campaign cannot be summed up using a single stance. It all depends on which lens is used to examine the highly eventful year that he produced.

In one regard, it could be described as the season that Logano “became a man” in NASCAR. For the first time, he stood up for himself despite catching heat from two of the sport’s biggest names, all while propelling Penske into the postseason. Or it could be seen as the potential foundation for a career as one of Sprint Cup’s biggest villains. That label stuck after seriously injuring Hamlin – an incident self-described as payback – while becoming more outspoken when paired with the brash, tell-it-like-it-is Keselowski.

Either way, it’s clear that Logano played a major role this season. He quickly faded upon entry into the Chase, his first experience with NASCAR’s postseason but should only get better with time.

Off-Track News: Logano announced that he was engaged via Twitter shortly before the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Logano is now set to wed his longtime girlfriend Brittany Baca after a special proposal. She was surprised because it came as Logano presented her with a mint green Ford Thunderbird.

2014 Outlook: Shell-Pennzoil signed a long-term extension with Penske Racing, set through 2018 back in January. With that news, plus the return of last season’s other primary sponsors and crew chief Todd Gordon, the pieces are in place for Logano to again compete for a Chase spot. But he must work to avoid future escalations of those rivalries established with Hamlin and Stewart. The measure of future success could be determined by how this young driver handles those relationships… and his temper.

When Logano was progressing through the stock car racing ranks, the pressures of being a high-profile prospect never seemed to faze him until his struggles at Joe Gibbs Racing. But Logano’s first season at Penske was a resounding move in the right direction. That ability to deal with heightening expectations will be needed more than ever as he tries to improve upon career-best marks set in almost every statistical category.

2013 Grade: B.

Contact Brad Morgan

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12/16/2013 01:32 PM

Despite Tony and Denny, he had a great year. He has/had nothing to apologize for. Those two and others have been playing bully with him for years and he never did back down. Anybody who has followed Logano’s career and roots for him, knows he did not know what happened to his tormentor. The media took it of course, spun the story and next thing you know..the fanatic fan kicks in, hate raining everywhere. Denny and Tony have said and did some really dumb stuff over the years, lets hope going forward your memory is working when it comes time for those two bullies and others to point out incidents, especially when it isn’t their fault. Part of your article looks like the typical one of you writers bowing to Tony. It seems you are saying Joey shouldn’t wear the red coat to school because bullies Denny and Tony don’t like red. Silly. Go get em’ Joey..great year keep it up! Fontana was good hard racing that sadly you don’t see often enough. Most are new fans that think that follow the leader is racing and complain when somebody actually races.

12/16/2013 02:23 PM

Joey’s my Cup driver and Fox said he got loose at Fontana and wrecked Hamlin. He said he didn’t know Hamlin had hurt his back.