Here we are in 2012 and shouldn’t Joey Logano have won a Sprint Cup championship by now or at least be consistently in the winner’s circle and top-10 in points?
The driver nicknamed “Sliced Bread” (as in “The Best Thing Since”) was all the rage back in his rookie season of 2009, drawing comparisons as the next Jeff Gordon and even getting extremely high praises from veteran driver and future Hall of Famer, Mark Martin. He was supposed to dominate the Sprint Cup scene the second he began racing in it, ushering in a new era of young driver dominance at the ripe age of 18.
It has now been almost three and a half seasons since Logano debuted in the Sprint Cup Series and for all of the hype, what has come of it? 1 win. That win was a rain shortened race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway where Logano used pit strategy and a bit of a rain dance to get to victory lane, not the most credible first victory, but it will be in the record books nonetheless.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to bash Logano here, I think he is a great driver and has all the talent in the world. One day I know he’ll be one of the best, but that time was supposed to be now and by looking at the way he races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series it’s baffling that he hasn’t been able to at least bring some of that success over to the Sprint Cup side.
Take, for example, his Nationwide statistics since he began racing part-time in the series since 2008. Over the span of 98 races in that series, Logano has amassed 13 wins, 76 top-10’s, and 19 pole positions. This year in the Nationwide Series alone, he has captured four wins in his Joe Gibbs Racing equipment and those wins have come at all different types of tracks. Now compare that to his Sprint Cup statistics where he has been in 124 races and has only scored one win, 33 top-10’s, and 3 poles.
Those Sprint Cup numbers are by no means terrible, most drivers never sniff a win or that many top-10’s in a career, but for a guy like Logano, with his talent level, competitive equipment, and full sponsorship he should be competing for wins nearly every weak.
I know that Nationwide used engines with less horsepower, different styles of cars, and the competition is weaker and those could all be factors in Logano’s lack of steady production in the Sprint Cup Series. But you have to take into account also that Logano was put in a situation with big shoes to fill. He had to come in and replace a two-time (now three-time) Sprint Cup champion in Tony Stewart and not to mention at the youngest age a driver has ever raced a full Sprint Cup season.
So maybe the reason Logano dominates so much in the Nationwide Series and not so much in the Sprint Cup Series is due to the difference in the cars. Maybe it’s the difference in competition. Maybe it’s the pressure of meeting immense expectations. Or maybe it’s just the fact that he was thrown into Sprint Cup so quickly that he couldn’t adjust to the cars just yet.
Either way, the guy has the winning instinct and he’ll continue to win Nationwide races and eventually Sprint Cup races. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later for fear that he’ll lose his ride.
Statistical information obtained from NASCAR.com.