NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2010 NASCAR Driver Review: Joey Logano

Joey Logano

2010 Ride: No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
2010 Primary Sponsors: Home Depot
2010 Owner: Joe Gibbs
2010 Crew Chief: Greg Zipadelli
2010 Stats: 36 starts, 0 wins, 7 top fives, 16 top 10s, 1 pole, 16th in points

High Point: Texas in November. Riding a streak of solid performances, “Sliced Bread” had a chance at victory, leading 30 laps on the day before slipping to fourth at the finish.

Low Point: Bristol. Winning the pole in the spring led to high expectations, but the best Logano could muster was 27th, five laps off the pace in what turned out to be a rather tumultuous day for him.

Summary: Logano’s year started off strong, but fell into a slump by midsummer as the second-year blues came around to claim the No. 20, causing him to miss out on a possible postseason berth. But the Chase is where you want to get hot, and this team was scorching in the form of five straight top-10 finishes to push them to a better points finish than last season. 16th isn’t great, but it isn’t bad, either, real progress in what’s been a slow and steady development for Sprint Cup’s youngest phenom.

Team Ranking: Third. Sure, Logano demonstrated tremendous improvement over the vast majority of 2010. But so did Denny Hamlin, joining Kyle Busch as a multiple-race winner as both made the Chase. Just those postseason berths alone leave their young teammate automatically bringing up the rear.

Off-Track News: Well, to me this one’s technically “off-track.” After the June race at Pocono, where Logano was spun out by Kevin Harvick the driver of the No. 20 proceeded to try start a scuffle on pit road after the race. During the fracas, both drivers never touched each other but Logano’s father, Tom, got involved to the point NASCAR issued a reprimand and Joe Gibbs Racing quietly “convinced” the proud papa to no longer show up at the track during race weekends.

While heated over the incident, Logano was interviewed and slammed Harvick with the “firesuit in the family” quote of the year. Claiming his rival’s wife wore the pants in that marriage, hatred towards the way Harvick handled that scenario continued to stew internally for weeks to come. Another physical confrontation occurred at Michigan, where Logano accidentally spun out Ryan Newman only for an angry Newman to come after him after the event. In that one, no punches were thrown but voices escalated to a level you haven’t heard from both drivers in quite sometime.

And then… there’s Homestead. After getting wrecked by Juan Pablo Montoya, Logano calmly waited for his car to be repaired, then went after the No. 42 Chevy under caution. It was a move that angered Montoya co-owner Felix Sabates, who briefly threatened to have Jamie McMurray wreck Hamlin before cooler heads in the garage prevailed.

2011 Outlook: Logano looks to build on his end-of-season momentum with his No. 20 team returning virtually intact. A quick look at past history shows that for the sport’s most recent superstars, their third year proved to be a breakout season: Jeff Gordon won the ’95 championship, Matt Kenseth won a career high five races in ’02 and Jimmie Johnson was championship runner-up in ’04.

Can Logano be next? I think attaining those goals are a tad lofty, but a Chase bid is well within reach. The consistency eluding this team came together in the fall, and a maturing driver both on and off the track should prove dividends for Zipadelli. There’s still a few hurdles to overcome – road courses, for one – but Logano’s 7-6-5-4-3 Chase streak came at four types of different tracks, an all-around performance that proves this team’s on the verge of doing some great things.

Most importantly, the Chosen One touted as the sport’s next great superstar has developed a unique personality all his own. Stepping out from under his father’s shadow, Logano is becoming his own man – a soon-to-be 21-year-old whose legal drinking age should bring a shot of adrenaline good enough to land a postseason berth.

2008 Frontstretch Grade: D
2009 Grade: C
2010 Grade: B

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