My Brain on NASCAR: Logano growing into front-runner role

When it comes to fans’ perception of a particular athlete, what a difference a few months can make. Just ask Joey Logano.

The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season was a pivotal one for Logano. His Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) team hired 2003 Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth away from Roush Fenway Racing to replace Joey in the No. 20 Toyota midway through the year, making the young driver a lame NASCAR duck looking for a new flock.

Meanwhile, a failed drug test resulted in the suspension of  A.J. Allmendinger, driver of the No. 22 car for Penske Racing. Pretty much any unemployed or semi-employed driver you can think of — guys like Brian Vickers and David Ragan come to mind — were considered for the seat, but in the end Logano was chosen as the man for the job.

The problem was that almost no one really considered Logano much of a man.

The driver who was given the nickname “Sliced Bread” (as in, the best thing since … ) has felt the hungry dogs of doubt nipping at his heels for years. He was originally scheduled to spend a couple of seasons competing full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) for JGR before being moved up to the Cup Series in 2010 to replace Tony Stewart, who was leaving to run his own team.

That plan, however, turned into a rush job when Stewart left a year early, and 18-year-old Logano suddenly found himself competing against the seasoned superstars of NASCAR’s premier series. Tony Stewart is a tough act to follow under the best of circumstances, and these were anything but: Logano was working with Stewart’s team, Stewart’s crew chief, and driving Stewart’s championship car.  It’s practically impossible to make a name for yourself with the weight  of someone else’s reputation literally wrapped around everything you do.

But Logano soldiered on, and there were a couple of bright spots. He made history in 2008 by becoming the youngest driver in history to win a NNS race, and followed that achievement up in 2009 by doing the same thing in the NSCS, winning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at the age of 19 years, 35 days. A second Cup win came last season, at Pocono Raceway.

But that pretty much sums up the highs. In four seasons of competition, Logano has failed to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field, and in a way has become a victim of his own hype. Entering t he 2013 season, the 22-year-old driver — who stands over 6 feet tall and weighs in at around 140 soaking-wet pounds — was still perceived as little more than a gangly, under-achieving kid.

Then came The Feud, and it’s a doozy. Logano and his former teammate Denny  Hamlin have been trading paint, both verbally and on-track, since the season-opening Daytona 500. Contact between the two on the final lap of the most recent race, at California Speedway on March 24, knocked both front-running drivers out of contention for the win. There was no deliberate malice on either side, but unfortunately the wreck sent Hamlin to the hospital with a spinal fracture.

After driving in the shadow of Hamlin and another former teammate, Kyle Busch, for the past four seasons, Logano seems to have literally come into his own — his own team, his own crew chief, his own identity — and it appears to have instilled a new sense of, well … ownership. Five races into the 2013 season, he sits ninth in the driver standings. Regardless of what form of confrontation he faces, he isn’t backing down. Rather, he is learning to stand up, and as we all know, that’s one of the most important parts of GROWING up.

It is important to remember that if you’re going to hold up a yardstick, make sure you’re using the proper standards of measurement. I surely am glad nobody examined me under a microscope and judged  my future potential based on who I was at age 18, or age 20. It would have been a pretty grim assessment, believe me.

So long story short, Joey  Logano may not yet be “the” man, but we are definitely watching him become “a” man before our very eyes, and that’s the very best — and only — place to start.

Comments

comments

Runners pound pavement for Turkey Trot road races

Runners pound pavement for Turkey Trot road racesSixteen-year-old Rory Legg-Bell of Hillsborough, NC, was the first to [more]

Chants slam St. Andrews; Shaw tallies 1,000th point

Chants slam St. Andrews; Shaw tallies 1,000th pointDemario Beck scored 12 points and had 15 rebounds in [more]

Girls Hoops: CF rips net, Braves in Sand & Hoops

Girls Hoops: CF rips net, Braves in Sand & HoopsThe girls high school basketball season is only beginning, yet [more]

Saints step up to capture Bulldog Shootout crown

Saints step up to capture Bulldog Shootout crownThe Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach boys basketball team not [more]

Hoops: CF, Socastee, SJ win tournament openers

Hoops: CF, Socastee, SJ win tournament openersThe Carolina Forest High girls basketball team needed a little [more]

Coastal upsets Clemson, marches on to Sweet 16

Coastal upsets Clemson, marches on to Sweet 16Martin Melchor scored two goals and had an assist while [more]

Beach United teams close fall season in Wilmington

Beach United teams close fall season in WilmingtonThe Beach United Football Club saw eight teams close out [more]

CAC swimmers dominate podium at regional meet

CAC swimmers dominate podium at regional meetPalmetto Aquatics (PALM) hosted the 2017 Thanksgiving Invite Meet on [more]

Coastal repeats as SBC champ, awaits NCAA foe

Coastal repeats as SBC champ, awaits NCAA foeThe Coastal Carolina volleyball team defeated #2 Texas State in [more]

Local hoops season tips off with two girls tourneys

Local hoops season tips off with two girls tourneysWinter might still be a month away, but the high [more]

Gamecocks net fifth place in Puerto Rico Tip-Off

Gamecocks net fifth place in Puerto Rico Tip-OffSouth Carolina men's basketball coach Frank Martin claimed his 100th [more]

Cuthbertson's career-high 31 points lead Chants' win

Cuthbertson's career-high 31 points lead Chants' winZac Cuthbertson torched the nets for 31 points in leading [more]

Chants handle Vandals, score first Sun Belt win

Chants handle Vandals, score first Sun Belt winIdaho scored on the opening possession of the game but [more]

Saints open season with wins, reach tourney final

Saints open season with wins, reach tourney finalThe Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach boys basketball team opened [more]

CCU men fall to Vermont; Lady Chants blast UNCW

CCU men fall to Vermont; Lady Chants blast UNCWZac Cuthbertson scored a game-high 23 points and had another [more]

Lady Chants spike Wolves, reach Sun Belt title game

Lady Chants spike Wolves, reach Sun Belt title gameThe Coastal Carolina volleyball team is making its second straight [more]

Chiefs stumble at Stags, suffer first loss of season

Chiefs stumble at Stags, suffer first loss of season North Myrtle Beach's record-setting season came to an end Friday [more]

Chants land in Bahamas with hot hand for hoops

Chants land in Bahamas with hot hand for hoopsFour players reached double digits for Coastal Carolina in the [more]

Gamecocks bounce back, blow out UTEP in Conway

Gamecocks bounce back, blow out UTEP in ConwaySouth Carolina's debut in the Puerto Rico Classic at the [more]

Beach Ball Classic lineup has big names, top teams

Beach Ball Classic lineup has big names, top teamsThe 2017 Beach Ball Classic announced its schedule for the [more]

Coastal shuts out Mercer, advances to face Clemson

Coastal shuts out Mercer, advances to face ClemsonFrantzdy Pierrot teamed up with Martin Melchor to give the [more]

Chants go west in quest for first Sun Belt victory

Chants go west in quest for first Sun Belt victoryThe Coastal Carolina football team (1-9, 0-6 Sun Belt) will [more]

Redbirds top Gamecocks in opener of PR Tip-Off

Redbirds top Gamecocks in opener of PR Tip-OffThe South Carolina men's basketball team has home court of [more]

CCU men, women suffer narrow six-point losses

CCU men, women suffer narrow six-point lossesJaylen Shaw scored 17 points, but it was not enough [more]

CCU nets honors, enters SBC tourney as top seed

CCU nets honors, enters SBC tourney as top seedThe Sun Belt Conference announced its final weekly volleyball awards [more]

Runners pound pavement for Turkey Trot road races

Runners pound pavement for Turkey Trot road racesSixteen-year-old Rory Legg-Bell of Hillsborough, NC, was the first to [more]

Chants slam St. Andrews; Shaw tallies 1,000th point

Chants slam St. Andrews; Shaw tallies 1,000th pointDemario Beck scored 12 points and had 15 rebounds in [more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2017 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach