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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Logano needs to focus more on racing, less on complaining

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Joey Logano, pictured at Daytona, is trying to earn the respect of his veteran competitors, but complaining won't accomplish that goal. Beating them will.

I’ve been a Joey Logano supporter since it was first announced he would make his Nationwide debut upon turning 18. I wrote, before he even ran a single lap at the top NASCAR levels, that he was going to be a big star and a champion in the future, potentially one of the all-time greats.

And I still believe that … he is a star already, and has shown at times that he has the ability to run up front with the best. At his age, there’s nothing but upside, and he should one day shatter records like Kyle Busch is doing right now.

But right now, he is just a kid, as Ryan Newman pointed out during their somewhat animated discussion at Michigan International Speedway last week.

While he has the right to defend himself on the track, as he did vs. Newman at MIS, it is not his place to try to speak for all drivers and go off about how difficult Newman can be to race against on the track.

Here is an example of Joey’s complaining, which sounds quite whiny.
"He races me way too hard,'' Logano said of Newman. "He races everybody too hard. I'm not the only one that complains about it every week. And he just went in there and door-jammed me. i was down there trying to save it and trying to save it. When someone is right on your side, it takes your air off. I saved it like three times before I'm like, "I can't save this one, he should have given me room by now.''
The hard truth is that when you’re new in the sport and young, the veterans aren’t going to cut you any slack. You just deal with it, and the way to get past that is to get good enough to beat them despite how hard they race you.

The biggest foul in the whole argument was when Logano invoked the name of Tony Stewart, Newman’s teammate and boss, saying that Stewart and other drivers have commented how Newman races the competition too hard at times when he shouldn’t.

Even if Stewart did say something like that, it’s not something for Logano to air publicly. I’m sure Steawart has plenty of opportunity to say it directly to Newman’s face, should he choose to do so.

I understand Logano’s in a difficult spot. He is young and wants to show the big boys he deserves their respect. But the way to do that is not by complaining like he did at MIS. If he continues to whine that veteran drivers aren’t giving him proper room, they’re just going to see him as a crybaby.

The recipe for Logano earning respect is not complaining. He needs to keep his mouth shut (though the “firesuit” comment was an instant classic), work hard with his race team to get better, then go out and beat his veteran competition on the track.

If he does this, and takes away wins and positions on the track from them without complaining to the media about how they raced, he will truly earn their respect and they won’t refer to him as a little kid. Let the driving, not your mouth, do your talking.

Joey needs to focus on getting to the front of the pack, something that’s only a matter of time with all the talent he has, and the respect will take care of itself.

Lajoie reinstated
Randy Lajoie, a long-respected member of the NASCAR community, showed that just because you get busted by NASCAR for failing a drug test, you don’t have to turn your life into a drama show (Jeremy Mayfield, take notes)
LaJoie, who was planning to work with the Joe Gibbs Nationwide program as a spotter, successfully completed a counseling program and is now free to work in the sport. And I have a feeling we won’t be hearing about any more screwups from him in the future after this embarrassing episode.

Villeneuve heads home
Formula 1 champion and occasional NASCAR driver Jacques Villeneuve will return to the track that is named after his late father this weekend when the Nationwide series returns to Montreal.

He said the trip back is something he looks forward to each year, and he hopes to be victorious this time around while driving the No. 32 car for Braun Racing.

"It's great. The track bears my father's name and it's in my courtyard basically. I live there -- it's my home crowd -- and I've been racing there over the years since 1993 actually. I've been on that track a lot of times and to be able to go back with NASCAR last year with the Dollar General car is great. Last year we had quite a good race were competitive and we're going back this year and taking the car from Elkhart Lake which was very good. We've saved it for that race because the car was good in the tight corners, which should be a good positive for Montreal."

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