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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