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

Pelicans open second half with eye on playoff streak

Pelicans open second half with eye on playoff streakThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans begin the second half of the [more]

Mutiny gives Strand fans small taste of World Cup

Mutiny gives Strand fans small taste of World CupAmerican soccer fans don't have a rooting interest in this [more]

All-County Track & Field: Second shots strike silver

All-County Track & Field: Second shots strike silverThe frontrunners in this year's My Horry News All-County Girls [more]

Pelicans help propel South to victory in All-Star Game

Pelicans help propel South to victory in All-Star GameA pair of Myrtle Beach Pelicans played key roles in [more]

NMB's Ballard, MB's Coble reconnect at North-South

NMB's Ballard, MB's Coble reconnect at North-SouthA pair of former teammates and rivals joined forces for [more]

Pelicans fail to finish .500 after losing first-half finale

Pelicans fail to finish .500 after losing first-half finaleThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans dropped their final game of the [more]

CCU's Biermann, Lancaster make All-American squad

CCU's Biermann, Lancaster make All-American squadCoastal Carolina shortstop Seth Lancaster and designated hitter Zach Biermann [more]

Ibarrondo comes to rescue to rally first-place Mutiny

Ibarrondo comes to rescue to rally first-place Mutiny The Myrtle Beach Mutiny needed a wake-up call late Saturday [more]

Pelicans split twinbill with Mudcats, play finale today

Pelicans split twinbill with Mudcats, play finale todayAfter the Myrtle Beach Pelicans fell 2-1 to the Carolina [more]

Pelicans lose fifth straight, play doubleheader today

Pelicans lose fifth straight, play doubleheader todayVictor Diaz's seven strong innings for the Carolina Mudcats were [more]

All-County Boys Tennis: Johnson, MB duo top list

All-County Boys Tennis: Johnson, MB duo top listThe future looks bright for the sport of high school [more]

Hess carves his way to Team USA surfing nod

Hess carves his way to Team USA surfing nodCarter Hess carved his way to a spot on the [more]

Pelicans' bullpen spoils Thompson's perfect start

Pelicans' bullpen spoils Thompson's perfect startAfter Keegan Thompson was removed following seven perfect innings for [more]

Piggot feasts, scores four goals to lead Mutiny win

Piggot feasts, scores four goals to lead Mutiny winThe Myrtle Beach Mutiny rolled to a 6-0 victory over [more]

CCU trio makes all-region; Lancaster an All-American

CCU trio makes all-region; Lancaster an All-AmericanCoastal Carolina shortstop Seth Lancaster was named to the Perfect [more]

Braves' icons Avery, Jones to appear at Pelicans game

Braves' icons Avery, Jones to appear at Pelicans gameThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans will welcome former MLB All-Stars and [more]

Coastal guard Labinowicz announces plan to transfer

Coastal guard Labinowicz announces plan to transferCoastal Carolina University men's basketball player Artur Labinowicz plans to [more]

Report: Myrtle Beach Bowl 'near lock' for 2020 kickoff

Report: Myrtle Beach Bowl 'near lock' for 2020 kickoffIn yet another development in the Grand Strand's booming sports [more]

Adaptive surfers depart for US Surfing Championship

Adaptive surfers depart for US Surfing ChampionshipLocal surfers, volunteers, and family members gathered at the Charleston [more]

All-County Boys Golf: MB's Jarman trades bat for club

All-County Boys Golf: MB's Jarman trades bat for clubIf things had worked out differently, Myrtle Beach High senior [more]

Gamecocks' season ends one win shy of Omaha

Gamecocks' season ends one win shy of OmahaThe University of South Carolina baseball team saw its season [more]

Pelicans' Ademan, Pereda, Peyton make all-star team

Pelicans' Ademan, Pereda, Peyton make all-star teamMyrtle Beach catcher Jhonny Pereda, right-hander Tyler Peyton and infielder [more]

Johnson wins at St. Jude, recaptures No. 1 ranking

Johnson wins at St. Jude, recaptures No. 1 rankingFormer Coastal Carolina two-time All-American and Myrtle Beach resident Dustin [more]

Gamecocks slam their way into final game with Hogs

Gamecocks slam their way into final game with HogsThe South Carolina baseball team scored five runs in the [more]

Pelicans win ninth straight, make late run at first place

Pelicans win ninth straight, make late run at first placeThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans racked up their ninth straight win [more]

Pelicans open second half with eye on playoff streak

Pelicans open second half with eye on playoff streakThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans begin the second half of the [more]

Mutiny gives Strand fans small taste of World Cup

Mutiny gives Strand fans small taste of World CupAmerican soccer fans don't have a rooting interest in this [more]

Leave a Reply

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

© 2018 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach