The Frontstretch: Joey Logano's Win At Penske Racing Was A Long Time Coming by Summer Bedgood -- Monday August 19, 2013

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Joey Logano's Win At Penske Racing Was A Long Time Coming

Summer Bedgood · Monday August 19, 2013

 

Joey Logano is really excited. He is, after all, a Sprint Cup Series winner.

But, wait …. His win on Sunday was not his first career victory. It was actually his third which, on a statistical basis, doesn’t sound too bad. There are tons of drivers who don’t even have one. Three is pretty impressive.

However, if you’ve been following Logano’s career, you know why it was so special. After struggling through four seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing, albeit while accumulating two of those three wins, Logano’s move to Penske Racing was supposed to be a fresh start for the once-upon-a-time phenom.

It has been, by all accounts, successful. Logano is currently 13th in points and is in a strong position to make the Chase, a feat he has never reached in any of his previous four seasons. He’s led 138 laps in 23 races this season, and he’ll likely eclipse the 190 laps led he attained last year, which was a career best.

Additionally, Logano has six top fives this season. The most he’s ever had in a year is seven, and we still have several more races to go. His average finish is 13th, which, if it holds steady, will be a career best.

Fast forward to last Sunday at Michigan, and you can understand Logano’s jubilation. He earned this win on speed. Yes, Mark Martin ran out of gas with two laps to go and Logano benefitted, but Logano was fast all day and there was no rain to secure the spot for him. And, for the second time, Logano beat his childhood hero Martin to win.

What Logano is also getting this season is redemption. If you were watching the year that Logano first entered the sport, you’ll remember the hype surrounding him. The endless mentions of “Sliced Bread” and the flattering words from Mark Martin had the spotlight squarely on him during a Broadway musical.

Ultimately … it fell short. While Logano excelled, and continues to excel, in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Logano was hit or miss in Cup. His first win was hardly meaningful in terms of talent (his crew chief and Mother Nature played a huge role) and his second one, though earned, didn’t come for another three years. He didn’t make the Chase, rarely contended for wins, and was only slightly above mediocre.

Still, spurts of brightness showed from time to time. Logano has 20 wins in the Nationwide Series and he had some strong racetracks where he would typically do well such as New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway.

In 2012, all of that limited success with JGR would come to a close. With Logano’s contract up and Matt Kenseth jumping ship from Roush Fenway Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing, JGR wanted to keep Logano but only in a Nationwide Series role.

For Logano, that wasn’t good enough and he felt like he had the talent to deserve to stay in the Sprint Cup Series.

Roger Penske agreed.

“ I think … it was a year ago that he had the chance to meet with the Shell people and Pennzoil,” said Penske after the race on Sunday. “I think we said he had been a winner, he was focused, wanted to race. Those are the things that made the difference for us.”

“It was the right move,” he continued. “We’re investing for the future. I have two young drivers. We’ll match them with anybody today. We’re looking long-term. As Joey said, it’s not one race here at Michigan, it’s about the future.”

For Logano, victory has never tasted sweeter.

“I am pretty stoked right now,” said Logano. “It means so much and so much to get Ford in Victory Lane here at Michigan. To win with RP here, that means so much too. I know he is running around here somewhere.”

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sully
08/19/2013 02:17 AM
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Summer, Summer..no mention of Logano’s point doc, no mention of tires blown, involved in mess of others, if it was Miss Hamlin or other favorites, well certainly those would be mentioned. Joey has done very well at Penske and in reality should be around 5th in points, but the reality is..he isn’t. He is getting the support that any person would want and should have at this organization. I do believe that wasn’t the case at JGR, the third wheel was Joey, now its Hamlin, proof positive. Summer has a weird way of writing about Logano, a small bit stating the good, then more than enough bad to fill the article.

Sue Rarick
08/19/2013 09:51 AM
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Two things to remember …Kyle didn’t do all that well when he was at Hendricks. It took the move to JGR to get the ball rolling with him. Logano is still a very young guy. Just as Busch was when he was at Hendricks.

Sometimes a driver just needs time to grow up.

Robert Eastman
08/19/2013 10:35 AM
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I totally agree with Sully. Even though the JGR owners believed in Joey Logano, the supporting cast didn’t. When Tony Stewart left JGR, Zippy’s heart and soul went with him, as evidenced by his later move to SHR. Denny Hamlin always felt threatened by Joey so there was always a tension within the ranks. Home Depot realized that their customer demographics… middle aged American home-owners didn’t identify with a skinny teen-aged spokes-boy, so there never was an “all-in” support for Joey at JGR.

NASCAR Cup is the most competitive racing series in the world. To consistently excel every team member must maintain a 100% positive attitude and always deliver their maximum performance! Most race fans don’t understand that the crew chief and team are absolutely the critical factor in winning. Jeff Gordon’s career is proof. He won 47 Cup races in 6 and 1/2 years with Ray Evernham as his crew chief. JG hasn’t won that many races in the 14 years since Evernham left, even though the resources available from HMS are constantly being upgraded!

Don’t be surprised when Logano wins a Cup Championship with Penske, which probably would never have happened at JGR! Truly being wanted is always a Great Motivator!

kb
08/19/2013 01:51 PM
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Well said Robert.