When Kurt Busch parted ways with Penske Racing and its No. 22 car last season, team president Tim Cindric placed a call to Joe Gibbs Racing at the urging of Brad Keselowski.
Keselowski, it seems, has a big influence on the day-to-day decision-making at Penske and thought Joey Logano would be a good fit as his teammate.
But when Cindric called JGR, he was told Logano wasn't available. Although Logano's contract was set to expire at the end of 2012, JGR wanted to do everything it could to keep him in the fold and didn't plan to release him early.
Seven months later, when AJ Allmendinger tested positive for a banned substance and was fired from Penske, the No. 22 ride was suddenly open again.
This time, with interest from both Penske and Logano – whose ride at JGR had been taken by Matt Kenseth – a deal was struck to pair the driver with Keselowski and form a duo of young, talented drivers who are also friends off the track.
"Brad and I kind of started our Cup careers around same time," Logano said. "We've been able to grow and go through a lot of similar things. ... We already had a relationship where we could talk and call each other, see each other at the racetrack and talk about whatever.
"Those relationship with driver teammates are more important than most people think."
That background was part of several interesting nuggets revealed during a Wednesday morning conference call in which Cindric and Logano discussed the driver's new multi-year contract with Penske.
Among the other notes:
• Sam Hornish Jr., who is currently driving the No. 22 car, will remain in the ride for the rest of the season before Logano takes over in 2013. Hornish will likely drive a full-time Nationwide Series schedule again next year, along with a few Sprint Cup Series races. Cindric said his preference was to have Hornish in a third Cup car on a full-time basis, but it was "pretty late in the year" for sponsorship to come together.
• Though JGR offered Logano an opportunity to stay with a full-time Nationwide ride, Logano "made it clear to them I wanted a full-time Cup ride and I felt like I was capable of winning races," he said. He wasn't scared of being left without a job, he added, and was confident all along he'd land with a quality Cup team. Logano also had other options, he said.
• All the questions about his job and future weren't as much of a distraction as people think, Logano said. But in the past, the rumors regarding his possible release from JGR affected his confidence level because he didn't know how to deal with them. Over time, Logano said he learned how to be tougher and remain confident despite being in the rumor mill.
• Logano will drive a No. 22 Shell-sponsored car, and Cindric said the team worked closely with its sponsor to make sure it found a talented driver who also had the right character. Over the last nine months, Shell has been embarrassed by Kurt Busch's antics and Allmendinger's failed drug test. "We've had to be more in concert than we've ever been with a sponsor, trying to ensure we get it right," Cindric said.
• It's unclear whether current No. 22 crew chief Todd Gordon will be paired with Logano. Cindric said Logano needs time to get to know Gordon and other personnel at Penske to evaluate the chemistry before the team makes a decision on how the No. 22 team will look in 2013. Cindric said Logano's involvement in the Nationwide Series next season was yet to be determined.
• Logano is unlikely to start driving a No. 22 car before the season ends, Cindric said. With Penske moving to Ford in 2013, the team would rather have a fresh start at Daytona than try and get Logano in a car with a few races left this year.