Tue09162014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

   20140901MetroCastweb

Jeff to Joey: setting the stage for the next generation

   Last weekend with the Sprint Cup Series on its traditional Easter weekend hiatus, it was all about Joey Logano.  
   For the last few weeks there has been a lot of conversation about the young man's Cup series debut and if he was given the seat in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota too soon.  Heading into Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, the Logano is in a precarious 35th place in the points.
   Each week the teams outside the top 35 in owner’s points have to qualify on time, which makes the 35th and last spot “on the bubble”.  Logano’s best finish of the season to date has been 13th place at Las Vegas.  Sunday will mark his first appearance at Phoenix in a Cup car.  He has one Nationwide start at the flat one mile oval. He finished 10th in that race.
 If the 18 year-old rookie is feeling the pressure, you would never know it by his performance in last Saturday’s Nationwide race at Nashville. After dueling and swapping the lead with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch for much of the race, he slipped past Busch for the final time just nine laps from the finish to log his second career Nationwide Series win.  Logano also won the Nationwide series race last season at Kentucky Speedway.
   “It’s been a while,” a smiling Logano said after the race.  “We had a really good run the last time we were here and got caught up in a wreck. It was awesome to be able to get the win this time.  Ever since I’ve been coming to Nashville I’ve been trying to get that guitar, and this is just awesome.”
   The track awards a unique trophy to the winner, a Sam Bass painted Gibson Les Paul guitar, which Logano proudly carried home in a case after the race.  The race was a battle between the Gibbs teammates, Busch and Logano led 172 of the races 225 laps
   “He had a better car on the short runs, and we had a better car on the long runs,” Busch said.   “The team did a great job, and it was just a shame we weren’t able to get out there and win this thing. That’s kind of frustrating, but we finished second today.”
   With Kyle Busch at age 23, the hottest driver in the circuit, and Joey Logano at 18 settling in to NASCAR’s top series, it is shaping up to be a battle between Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports for a long time to come.
   Jeff Gordon is back on his game after capturing the checkered flag at Texas Motor Speedway, officially ending his 47 race winless streak that dated back to Oct. 13, 2007.
   Gordon has done a lot over his 18-year career in NASCAR’s Cup series, but he is using this season to settle some unfinished business.  He leads all active drivers in wins at different tracks, including 21 of the 22 tracks on the circuit.  The one track left on the active schedule where he hasn’t won is Homestead-Miami Speedway. Winning there would be big, but Gordon has set his sights on a bigger prize.
   Most notable on his list of things to do, is to win a Championship under the “Chase for the Championship” format.  His two highest finishes in the Chase format were third in 2004, and second in the2007 Chase.   “It’s great to be leading the points,” Gordon said following his Texas victory, “But you want to be the guy to beat for the championship.”  If you’re going to win the championship, you’ve got to show that you’re strong, you’re consistent and you can win.”
   Since Gordon  scored his 82nd career win at Texas, ESPN has come out with an article  speculating on whether Gordon will pass David  Pearson who had 105 career wins before he hung it up.  Not Likely.  Being realistic, Gordon is a shoe-in to pass Cale Yarborough at 82 wins,  and Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip at 84 wins each, but beat Pearson at 105?   It’s just not in the cards.  
 
   Jeff Gordon, who turns 38 on August 4th, has just a few years before entering the age where the wins begin coming further and further apart.   It doesn’t seem possible but Joey Logano was just four years old when the original boy wonder scored his first Winston Cup win in 1994.
You may reach Pete Barber at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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