By admin | February 9, 2011
By Richard Allen
In any conversation of what drivers have a chance to win the 2011 Sprint Cup championship the names of Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch would almost certainly be among those discussed. However, the third JGR driver, Joey Logano, probably would not be mentioned as a serious contender by very many people.
Entering his third season as the driver of the Home Depot Toyota #20, Logano has reached the point at which he needs to raise the level of his game to that of his teammates.
In his rookie year back in 2009 the Connecticut native won a rain shortened race in New Hampshire. However, he failed to tally a single victory last season. Instead his year was more noteworthy for run-ins with Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman and for his fatherâ€™s over exuberance than for his accomplishments on the track. Logano failed to make the Chase for the Championship and ultimately placed 16th in the final Sprint Cup standings.
His number of top-5 and top-10 finishes did improve from his first season to his second but for the car once driven by Tony Stewart to two championships, top-10s are not the ultimate goal. Whether the pressure is fair or not, it is still there.
Over the past two seasons Loganoâ€™s JGR teammates have won multiple races and contended for championships while Logano has been learning the way of things in Sprint Cup racing. After two full seasons the young driver has now had the opportunity to adjust.
On this particular team youth canâ€™t really be used as an excuse for lack of performance. His teammates are 30 and 25 years of age and have barely more experience in racing than Logano.
There is no doubt Joey Logano is a talented race car driver. He has a number of victories in lesser seriesâ€™ to prove that. However, there is a long list of drivers who have done well in other places and never succeeded at the Sprint Cup level. Will this be the year that this driver steps up and proves he is a legitimate contender at the top level of the sport or will he take another step toward joining that long list?
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