This weekend’s Nationwide Series Helluva Good! 200 at Dover will be the much anticipated debut of Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Joey “Sliced Bread” Logano (as in “the best thing since sliced bread”). He spent the day today making the rounds on the ESPN networks and was the topic of conversation for many media outlets and blogs. Among others, both ESPN’s David Newton and Jay Busbee from the popular Yahoo Sports Blog From the Marbles jumped on the Joey Logano bandwagon today. Personally, I’m going to wait.
I’m no expert when it comes to evaluating driver talent, but I’ve seen both good and bad drivers during my time in racing. And, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on what it takes to be successful. With that said, I’m not saying that Logano isn’t talented. You don’t win at the levels of racing he’s won at unless you have some measure of talent. But before I start making some of the comments I’ve seen by other writers, I’d like to see him run against some tougher competition.
In 2007, Logano competed in NASCAR’s Grand National Division (Busch East and NASCAR West) and won almost half the races he competed in and the East Series championship. That is a damn good season by any standards. But I think a lot of people forget Logano was in far superior equipment then his competition and had the full support of arguably the top Cup program in existence right now.
The same can really be said about his ARCA RE/MAX Series win a few weeks back at Rockingham. With the exception of maybe three or four teams, Logano didn’t have much in the way of competition.
I’ve got to commend the Joe Gibbs owned team though, as they have done a masterful job of preparing and promoting the young driver. Saturday’s race at Dover will probably be the most watched and talked about Nationwide Series race of the season. And with this season’s influx of open wheel drivers into some of the top organizations, its nice to see a true development driver move up and get a chance.
So, do I think the kid has talent? Yes. Do I think he has a lot of potential? Of course. Am I going to start comparing him to Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, or Dale Jr.? Not a chance. But don’t worry, I’m going to be fair about my opinion of him. If he struggles on Saturday, I’m not going to post on Sunday or Monday talking about how he is a bust, and vice-a-versa. Logano needs seat time to learn just like any other young driver, and until he’s got some races under his belt, I’m going to reserve judgement.
This weekend, when you are being bombarded with all the hype surrounding Joey Logano, try not to forget the kid is just barely 18 and will have these two big yellow stickers on his rear bumper when he takes the green flag.