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Monday, June 29, 2009

Logano makes history at New Hampshire … and he’ll do it many more times

Don’t call it a fluke.

Don’t say he didn’t deserve to win.

Don’t say he’s all hype.

Because if you do any of those things when referring to Joey Logano and his win at New Hamphire Sunday, you are lying to yourself.

I recognize that Joey was running in the 20s all day, and twice had to rely on the Lucky Dog free pass to get back on the lead lap, but that does not change the fact that his team played the strategy better than anyone else.

If anyone else on the lead lap had recognized that rain was coming and saved enough fuel to stay out a little longer, they would have won instead of Logano. All these other great teams were unable to do so, and the Gibbs team was smart enough to see what was coming and capitalized on that.

So I ask … how does that make the win less legitimate?

Since his arrival in Nationwide a little over a year ago, Logano has had his detractors, who claimed he is all hype and wouldn’t be able to make it in Cup. I have a feeling the people who would discredit Logano’s win are in this camp. They were likely pointing out their prediction when Logano found the wall countless times in the first two months of the season.

But the fact remains that a young man who just last month turned 19 years old can even run with the great drivers in the Cup series, often doing quite well (he has three top-10s in addition to this win) is a testament to the fact that this guy can drive a racecar. The first couple months were rough, but he has clearly learned from his mistakes and will continue to improve.

So while this first win can be credited to Greg Zipadelli and the Joe Gibbs Racing team, you can bet that in the future Joey Logano will break a lot more records. I’m quite confident that very soon you’ll see him racing for the lead, not inheriting it due to pit stops.

Logano is already the youngest driver to win a Cup race, beating teammate Kyle Busch by a year. He has already exceeded expectations for his rookie season by winning, and shown signs that he will be a winner for many years to come. I foresee many more records falling as Logano's career progresses.

Anyone who still thinks Logano is going to fail must be living in a dream world.

Double-file restarts spice up race
Normally I can take a couple naps during the New Hampshire races and not miss much, but you can credit the double-file restart rule for making that not be the case this weekend. There was great action on every restart between frontrunners Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and others.

I’m also glad to hear the rule is going to be implemented in the Nationwide series starting next weekend at Daytona. Those races are becoming so predictable, I’ll take anything to spice them up.

Better without Weber
Bill Weber was suspended for the New Hampshire race after having some sort of altercation at his hotel. I’ve never been a fan of Weber as a NASCAR host, and the fact that the commentary this race was better than usual proves my point. If he never came back, I don’t think many people would be upset.

Surprise runs
Credit must be given after great runs for Penske’s Sam Hornish Jr., who finished 8th but ran as high as fourth for a while, and Front Row Motorosports’ John Andretti, who came home 16th. Also, Juan Montoya had a top-12 run and was able to maintain his spot in Chase territory, 1 point ahead of 13th-place Kasey Kahne.

Stewart continues to be the man
And while I’m talking numbers, the seasonlong numbers are amazing for Tony Stewart. He has 13 top-10 finishes and 9 top-5s in 17 races. That means he is almost always up front by the time the race ends. And this is with the new team, making the feat more impressive. It’s no doubt the best first half of the year he’s ever had, and he’s known as a second-half driver. The competition better watch out.


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