A year ago Joey Logano made his NASCAR debut. Not his Sprint Cup debut, his debut in any of the top three touring series. With two poles and a win in his first three starts in the Nationwide Series, he appeared to match the hype surrounding his young career. Ever since Mark Martin boasted that Logano could drive a Cup car better than some veterans when Logano was 15, people have waited for the newest NASCAR superstar.
The hype continued to grow after Joe Gibbs named Logano to replace 2-time champion Tony Stewart in the Home Depot car. People started calling him Sliced Bread and expectations grew in line with the hype. Then in the fall Logano made three Cup starts and stunk. He didn't finish better than 32nd in three starts. Logano's 2009 started the same as 2008 ended. He wrecked and finished dead last in the Daytona 500.
With greater coverage and exposure in sports media, everyone is looking for the next superstar. And that makes people search earlier and earlier to unearth that next Big Thing. When Kyle Busch made his decut and almost immediately ran at the front of the pack and challenged for wins, that was suddenly the expectation for rookies. Kyle Busch is a phenom and that makes him the exception, not the expectation. The important thing to remember is that Logano just turned 19. With testing banned for 2009 Logano not only faced bigger expectations, but a steeper learning curve. A curve where seat time gets crammed almost exclusively into race weekends.
His early spring was a typical rookie season filled with decent runs (13th at Las Vegas), days where the team struggled or experienced a total nightmare all weekend like at Daytona. After five races he was on the edge of the top 35 in owners points and in danger of losing his guaranteed starting spot. Now look at his May. Logano has scored three top 10's in his last five races and posted finishes better than 21st in every race since Phoenix. He has led laps at Darlington, Talladega and Lowe's showing he's becoming more comfortable in the vaunted #20 car. He has gained With top cars provided by Gibbs and his steady improvement, it's not impossible to see Logano knocking on the door to Victory Lane before November.
Share your thoughts. Can he win a race this year? Is Logano overrated or just a victim of the hype machine?