When Greg Zipadelli left Joe Gibbs Racing to become Stewart-Haas Racing's competition director, he speculated the departure would be a blessing in disguise for driver Joey Logano.
After all, Zipadelli's move meant there was one less attachment to Tony Stewart's NASCAR championship tenure in JGR's No. 20 car – and that might just allow Logano to "blossom," Zipadelli said.
"There was an amazing amount of weight on him to try and fill those shoes, and those are shoes that just don't get filled," Zipadelli said at the time. "As long as I was there and my group was there, there was still something about that. ... He's got a great opportunity to prove himself with a completely different level of expectations."
On Wednesday, I asked Logano if he thought Zipadelli's assertion was accurate. Did Logano feel more comfortable with new crew chief Jason Ratcliff?
"I definitely feel like it's my team now," Logano said. "With Jason there, I can voice my opinion and I think we're all really working together very well. We value each other's opinion a lot. What we've done and the accomplishments each other has, we respect that a lot.
"I think it's going to be a very positive change for us – and I think it's going to be a positive change for Zip, too. You know, every once in awhile you've got to kind of hit the reset button and go at it again."
This is a crucial season for Logano to prove he can win and contend at the Sprint Cup level. The 21-year-old finished 24th in the point standings last year after placing 16th in 2010. He must show some improvement in what will be his fourth full-time NASCAR season.