STEAM CORNERS, N.Y. – I think it’s time for the racing world to accept Joey Logano as a legitimate talent.
When he came to the forefront a half dozen years ago, described by veteran racing writer Pete Zanardi as “The best thing since sliced bread,” many scoffed at that.
There is no question that Logano started Cup racing a bit too young. He was replacing former champion Tony Stewart in Joe Gibbs’ No. 20. It was a lot to ask.
The first few years weren’t so hot. Logano came close to losing his ride. Apparently he was expected to win right out of the box. That very seldom happens. Remember Jeff Gordon’s first year? They had to replace front and rear clips so often they needed a zipper to attach them.
Logano did win a Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but that was by just plain luck as he was ahead when it rained. The NASCAR Nationwide Series is where her showed his stuff, winning nine races two years ago.
But he got in scrapes with the older drivers. Some felt he was out of his league. The Gibbs team seemed like they were tolerating him his last year. Then the break came.
Brad Keselowski took a liking to Logano. Maybe it was because all the lumps he himself took when he got started in Cup. Keselowski convinced Roger Penske to sign him. The NASCAR insiders were shocked. But Logano was up to the challenge. He has become one of the circuits best drivers.
His win at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday was a a nifty one for a young guy on a track where veteran smarts are needed. He has three wins this season and has run well at all track configurations this year. He is a legitimate threat to prevail in the Chase. He wouldn’t be NASCAR’s youngest champion, that distinction belongs to Bill Rexford, who won the very first NASCAR title at age 23 in 1950.
The biggest story of the year, according to the NASCAR media, was to be the return of No. 3 to the Sprint Cup circuit, which wasn’t used since Dale Earnhardt’s death 13 years ago. This has turned out to be a non-story. Hardly anybody gives it a thought as Austin Dillon rides around mid-pack. The No. 3 is just another digit.