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« Manufacturer parity: Each has won in first four races | Main | A tale of two races: Great Nationwide race and lifeless Sprint Cup in Fontana »

Logano needs to duplicate Nationwide success in Sprint Cup…soon

By admin | March 24, 2012

By Richard Allen

 

Joey Logano proved on Saturday at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California that he can take top notch equipment and win with it at the Nationwide Series level. But those who have followed NASCAR for the last several years already knew that.

What Logano must do in the near future is prove that he can win a similar type of race with intense action and hard fought competition at the Sprint Cup level. And he very much needs to do that soon.

The Home Depot has served as the primary sponsor for the Joe Gibbs Racing’s number 20 car since Tony Stewart’s rookie campaign in that ride back in 1999. However, word has it that the home improvement store’s contract with JGR runs out at the end of the current season and it has been a not-so-well kept secret that the company expects more in return for their investment in the team.

Last year, it was rumored that The Home Depot was having a flirtation with Carl Edwards, either to have him drive the #20 car at JGR or for the sponsor to jump ship and head to Roush Fenway Racing. In this current sponsor starved market, if the company wants to look for a more successful driver than Logano at the end of 2012 they will have little trouble finding one.

Logano took over the #20 Toyota beginning in 2009 after Stewart departed to co-own a team with Carl Haas. The results for the young driver have been less than spectacular. He did win a race in his rookie season after then crew chief Greg Zipadelli had him stay on track rather than pit under caution just before a rain shower ended the day’s activities in Loudon, New Hampshire.

But aside from that ‘stolen’ victory, Logano’s stats at the Sprint Cup level have paled in comparison to what his team had been accustomed to with Stewart as their driver. The Connecticut native has scored only 14 top-5s and 31 top-10s in 115 career starts at NASCAR’s highest level. And where Stewart won two titles in that car, Logano has never even qualified for the Chase for the Championship playoff.

Logano seems to drive with more confidence in Nationwide Series races and it shows in the results. In NASCAR’s second series(which features many of the same drivers and teams as the top series) he has piled up ten wins and 72 top-10s in only 92 career starts. Granted, he has great equipment there but so do many of the other Sprint Cup drivers and Nationwide regulars associated with Sprint Cup teams.

The race on Saturday in California was exciting and intense and Joey Logano showed he is capable of winning those kinds of events at a lower level. Now, he better prove the same thing at the highest level before it’s too late. He may only be 21 years old but he’s already had three full seasons in Sprint Cup. Drivers typically don’t get much more than that without producing quality results in the type of equipment he has been handed.

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