Sometimes charming, sometimes annoyingly overeager, Joey Logano has been the quintessential NASCAR younger brother since his arrival on the Cup scene at the end of 2008. Perhaps thrust into the spotlight too soon, Logano has been like that little kid who strapped on boots just a little too big and stumbled all over them. The greatest thing since sliced bread? The way things started, the Connecticut Kid appeared to be only half baked.
Logano found himself with the high heat turned on, with well-publicized run-ins with veterans Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart. The upperclassmen don’t take kindly to the skinny freshman swinging back. After his late-race crash with Hamlin that injured his former teammate, Logano seemed to get the reputation as a bit of a loose cannon; someone who might just lay a fender on you if he felt you wronged. It was a bit like the one-time wunderkind had become a scrawny Carl Edwards.
While all the attention was being focused on the personality clashes, something happened. Just as he was being written off as a bust, the driver who was recruited by Brad Keselowski to join Penske Racing started putting a run together. The top fives and the top tens starting flooding in, and in August of 2013, at the same track where Kid Joey tangled with Ryan Newman, Logano took the checkered flag at the Pure Michigan 400. You can dismiss the rain-shortened win at New Hampshire to luck, and maybe the win at Pocono was the sun shining on a dog’s hiney, but lo and behold, Logano found himself in the 2013 Chase and he finished eighth in the season standings.
Was it all a flash in the pan? Logano’s performance in 2014 indicates that owner Roger Penske, crew chief Todd Gordon and Logano have collaborated on a winning recipe. Week in and week out, the kid who is now 23 is running consistently among the big boys now. In seven races, Logano sits fourth in points and has four top fives and four top tens and now a win at Texas. While Ford is supplied the horses, and Team Penske worked feverishly to put him in a position, Logano made the winning move in taking the lead from four-time champion and 88 race winner Jeff Gordon at the end.
While he still looks a bit like someone who could have made the cast of Napoleon Dynamite, Joey Logano isn’t racing like a kid anymore. The story line has changed: the story isn’t any longer about potential; it’s being fulfilled. Joseph Thomas Logano is racing like a man among men.