by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.April 12, 2009 9:49 am UTC 6 Comments
Joey Logano did exactly what everyone has been expecting of him at Nashville; he won a race.
The Connecticut rookie that has been named “sliced bread” for his next best thing promise finally lived up to the hype in a NASCAR race. Because it was a Nationwide Series race and not on the Cup level he still has a way to go before the Joe Gibbs Racing driver lives up to his moniker.
Logano won in the ARCA series in 2008 on his way to NASCAR’s top series in 2009, but the road has been rocky at best throughout his rookie series. The season started with a crash out at Daytona and has never righted itself since.
Logano’s success at Nashville makes one wonder if he might have been better served to have spent an entire season in the Nationwide Series to get a feel for the tracks and environment of the NASCAR big leagues. The no testing policy that NASCAR implemented in the ’08/’09 off season had an impact on start up and rookie teams. The same reasons that allowed start ups the ability to enter the series were counter-productive to the rookie class.
In a normal year Logano and the #20 team would have spent much of the off season getting him comfortable in the new car. Not only was Logano expected to acclimate himself to the ex-Stewart car and team, he had to learn the nuances of the CoT–a car he had driven sparingly until the start of speed weeks at Daytona.
I boldly predicted in February, on ON PIT ROW the radio show, Logano would not make it to Daytona in July as the driver of that car. There have been rumblings to that effect and a “vote of confidence” from team owner Joe Gibbs. Those VOC’s tend to be a bad omen. Gibbs and Home Depot may not have the ability to hang in with Logano throughout the season. Gibbs may have been better served to have used a seat holder for a year, while Logano perfected his craft in 2009.
He needs to move up the cup ladder quickly over the next five races to prove Gibbs confidence is warranted. Nashville may give Logano exactly what he needed–a win to get things moving in the right direction.
Photo credit: John Sommors II – Getty Images for NASCAR