News & Media

Logano looks to keep rolling at Michigan

June 16, 2012, Joe Menzer,

Joe Gibbs Racing driver using Pocono win, Nationwide success as fuel

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Trivia question: which NASCAR driver has been to Victory Lane the most across all three national touring series thus far this season?

"When I talked to him during our meetings with Gibbs [last weekend] ... I knew he was super-confident in what he had. And, then with that confidence, you saw the results... "


The answer might surprise you.

Even after offering the hint that he's a driver from the Joe Gibbs Racing stable, Joey Logano likely would be the third choice for many behind Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. But the fact is that Logano, who will drive in both Saturday's Nationwide Series race and Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway, has graced Victory Lane a total of five times in the two series already this season.

And, after winning last Sunday's Cup race at Pocono, Logano admitted he is beginning to feel like this might be his year.

"We've been on a roll here lately," Logano said. "We just have to keep that going."

It's a stretch that seems like it's been a long time coming, even though Logano is still a very young man. Hamlin was asked Friday at MIS why it has seemingly taken Logano so long for his winning ways transfer from the Nationwide Series, where he's won a total 13 times, to Cup, where the win at Pocono was just his second in what is now his fourth full season.

"Well, I think he's 22 years old," Hamlin said. "When I was 22, I was racing late models and didn't have a clue what I was doing. They threw me in up at this level at that age and that gave me a head start, but it still takes time."

Hamlin pointed out that Logano has been marking time in NASCAR longer than most his age. But still, he insisted that success at the highest level cannot be expected overnight.

"Joey is very, very mature for his age," Hamlin said. "But still, maturity on the race track and off the race track are two different things. It takes a long time for you to realize what it takes to be competitive. The veteran drivers learn every single week something we need to do better. I'm constantly learning every week what I need to do just to keep up with the field. Being 22 makes it even harder to do that."

Logano is quick to flash his familiar smile when it's mentioned that this could be his breakthrough year on the Cup side. He credited his crew chiefs -- Adam Stevens on the No. 18 Toyota he drives in Nationwide, and Jason Ratcliff on the No. 20 Toyota he drives in Cup -- with giving him fast cars that have been, for the most part, easy for him to drive in both series this season.

"I've always thought it was time for me to shine," Logano said. "This year doesn't change my attitude any, but winning races and stuff like that obviously makes it look like that. That's all right with me.

"I think we've had some really good cars here lately.

I think Adam Stevens and Jason Ratcliff are doing a really good job on both race cars and giving me what I need to win races. They've given me the stuff and we're making the best out of our opportunities out there."

Hamlin said he sensed Logano was going to accomplish precisely that at Pocono when the pair participated in JGR driver-crew chief meetings prior to the Cup race.

"I think that last week we just saw the confidence of Joey is what got him in Victory Lane," Hamlin said. "When I talked to him during our meetings with Gibbs, during our driver debrief, I knew he was super-confident in what he had. And, then with that confidence, you saw the results that he had.

"Sometimes it takes a while. Not everyone is going to do what Jamie McMurray did back in the day when he won like his second start. It's just so hard to do it. And now, coming into the sport, it's harder than every to be competitive. I truly believe that. There are 15-20 cars that, if you put them out front, they could win the race."

But, Hamlin believes all those wins lately are more of a sign of things to come.

"Joey's been given a huge task, and I think he's starting to accomplish what we all thought he would. ... I think he's done a great job and he's going to be in the Cup Series and in our sport for a long, long time."