NASCAR: A little job security goes a long way for Logano

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 9, 2011

By Jenna Fryer
Associated Press
It’s too bad the sun spoiled what could have been a day of redemption for Joey Logano.
The poor kid had been twisting in the wind for months, waiting like everyone else to see where Carl Edwards will drive next season. Among Edwards’ options was Joe Gibbs Racing, in the very seat Logano has occupied since 2009.
Nobody, team and driver included, believes Logano has delivered on the expectations that awaited him when the wide-eyed 18-year-old entered NASCAR’s top level with just one victory through 96 races Sprint Cup Series.
But chasing Edwards had to make life difficult.
First came his pole-winning run at Sonoma, a small victory considering how much Logano has struggled on road courses. Then he stood up for himself, something Logano had not done much of, in an on-track scuffle with Robby Gordon, and finished a career-best sixth.
Logano won the Nationwide Series race at Daytona the next week and finished third the next night in the Cup race. He had another top-five two weeks later at New Hampshire, had a spectacular save that impressed most everyone at Indianapolis and had climbed from 29th in points early in the season to 19th at the start of last week.
“I don’t know if everyone’s realized how good we’ve been doing,” Logano said. “We’ve been building a lot of momentum.”
So it was of great relief to Logano when Edwards last week decided to stay with Roush Fenway Racing. It buys Logano some job security at JGR, which for years has been unable to land a fourth major sponsor to expand beyond its current three driver lineup.
He’s safe, for now, and nearly responded with a season-saving victory Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
Logano had his No. 20 Toyota out front when the sky opened up, and had racing never resumed, Logano would have been the winner.
That potential victory might have been enough to earn him a wild car in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field, too. Alas, the sun came out. Logano quickly realized his shot at the victory was gone, then a flat tire ruined a potentially strong finish.
He finished 26th and dropped a spot in the standings to 20th. Even worse? Brad Keselowski went on to win the race, leapfrog Logano in the points standings, and pretty much lock down one of the two wild-card berths.