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‘Sliced Bread’ seems to realize he’s on the hot seat

By admin | January 23, 2012

By Richard Allen

When Joey Logano was a young teenager he was essentially labeled a “can’t miss” prospect as far as his future in NASCAR was concerned. And while the Middletown, Connecticut driver is still quite young in terms of just about every other career field imaginable, he is about to reach the point that he will indeed be considered a “miss” as a Sprint Cup driver.

At just 21 years of age, Logano is about to enter his fourth season as a fulltime Sprint Cup driver for Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota. For many drivers, that’s all they are allowed before questions begin to arise about their ability to put a car in victory lane. That is especially true when the driver in question was so heavily hyped and when he drives for one of the most potent teams in the sport.

So far in his tenure at JGR, Logano has recorded only one Sprint Cup victory in 111 starts. That lone win came in 2009 after crew chief Greg Zipadelli left his driver out on the track while everyone in front of the #20 car pitted just before rains fell on the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Logano has amassed a total of just 29 top-10 results as a Sprint Cup driver and led only 147 laps in his three years at the top level. He has never qualified for the Chase for the Championship. However, in the same time period in which Logano has been with JGR, teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin have posted eleven and thirteen wins respectively and have made five playoff appearances between the two.

With these statistics hardly a secret among even casual observers, the driver once dubbed ‘Sliced Bread’ seems to be aware that the pressure to perform is mounting. In Monday’s stop off by the Sprint Media Tour at JGR, Logano announced to the assembled media members that the ‘Little Joey’ persona of television commercial fame is now, “a thing of the past.”

Over the course of his relatively brief career, ‘Little Joey’ has become a target of more aggressive drivers such as Kevin Harvick and others. As a matter of fact, Zipadelli grew so frustrated with his driver after Logano was dumped by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. last season in Martinsville that he challenged, “You better grow some balls and take care of it!” over the team radio.

Zipadelli has since left the #20 team to assume the Director of Competition role for Stewart-Haas Racing. More importantly, sponsor The Home Depot is rumored to be less than pleased with the return on their investment. It was even mentioned last year that the home improvement company might have been looking to go elsewhere. They did in fact cut back on the number of races they will sponsor as Dollar General was brought in to serve as the principal backer for 10-12 events in 2012.

As a Nationwide Series driver for JGR, Logano has scored nine wins in 88 career starts. It would appear as though he will have to find that same sort of success if he is to remain in his current Sprint Cup ride. His contract is believed to expire at the end of the upcoming season.

After the media left the JGR facility on Monday, Logano posted on Twitter that he was, “Done with media day. It made me even more pumped about this year.” He ended the posting with the hash tag #takingnoprisoners(Taking no prisoners). It would seem as though that had better be more than just a Twitter post for ‘Sliced Bread’ in 2012.

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5 Responses to “‘Sliced Bread’ seems to realize he’s on the hot seat”

  1. Sue Rarick Says:
    January 24th, 2012 at 8:09 am

    In a way it’s sad. Media, team owners and sponsors put so much pressure on what amounts to a college junior. I wonder how many of the people applying the pressure could handle it as well as these young drivers do?

    And for those people who say if I was getting paid that amount of money I could do it ……Short answer … No you couldn’t!

  2. Russ Says:
    January 24th, 2012 at 9:27 am

    No we couldn’t at that level. BUT, the pressure excuse is lame. There isn’t a person who holds a job that isn’t under pressure every day. Agreed, some jobs have more than others. But the reason the rewards are so great is because so few people can perform at that level. If he’s not one of those people, then he needs to do something more in line with his skill set.

  3. Bill B Says:
    January 24th, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Well, Logano has definitely been given time to develop by JGR. He was definitely rushed up to the cup level prematurely. The “sliced bread” moniker really worked against him IMO. The expectations were (unfairly) set high to start with. Still, he has been given the chance to acclimate. If he can’t start getting good finishes then he won’t be around long.
    Just a reminder that for every Kyle Busch or Carl Edwards that does well when they move up to the big leagues there are 100 Casey Atwoods.

  4. Dennis Says:
    January 24th, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    In my opinion, they did Joey “wrong” by not having him run two full years of Nationwide before moving him up. They had already seen what happens when you move a driver up too quickly.

    Hopefully, seeing a sports psychologist will help turn things around.

  5. Brian Says:
    January 24th, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    The problem with Joey is the same one that has haunted Dale Jr, David Ragan, Brian Vickers, etc. They have more car than they do talent. Look at Colin Braun. He was with Roush in the #6 car, and could do nothing. Roush puts Stenhouse in the car, and he wins the championship. Raw talent is rare these days in NASCAR. Look at Jeff Burton. This guy has no talent what so ever. He’s an also ran. If I were a sponsor, there’s no way I would even consider any of these drivers. Like Dale Jr. Steve Wallace is the prime example. He has the name, but that’s all. No talent at all. Now Rusty has closed the doors on his operation. If Steve could drive, they would still be in business.
    So Joey, get ready for the pink slip, because it’s coming.