Racing Beat: New kid on the block

Joey Logano has created a buzz that rival’s Jeff Gordon’s arrival on the NASCAR scene many years ago.

Joey Logano is a 14-year veteran of motorsports competition, which doesn’t sound like a big deal – until you consider he celebrated his 18th birthday on May 24.

He made his NASCAR Nationwide debut in late May and finished sixth. Not since Jeff Gordon came on the scene has a youngster generated so much buzz.

“He’s the real deal,” Mark Martin says. “I’m not saying there isn’t someone out there who has as much talent as Joey, but I haven’t seen them. He’s better right now than a lot of guys who’ve been racing NASCAR for years.”

If not for the 18-year age limit, Logano would already have been a NASCAR regular. He has not only succeeded at every other level of racing, he’s excelled at them all.

He began his career in quarter midgets and really got notice while driving Legends cars, where he won a staggering 14 consecutive events at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Now the youngster is one step away from Cup competition.

“I’m definitely excited to get out there, been just waiting my whole life to get out to the Nationwide Series,” he says. “Finally to get to run, it’s definitely exciting. I waited until I turned 14 to run ASA, 15 for Pro Cup. Ran the Camping World Series last year. It was like the first time I was able to run for a whole series for points.”

Just as Gordon and the Busch brothers have shown, talent is talent regardless of what the birth certificate says. And now that he’s part of Joe Gibbs Racing, Logano can learn even more from the best.

“I’ve talked to Kyle [Busch], Denny [Hamlin], Tony [Stewart],” Logano says. “They’re real good guys, help me out as much as they can.”

Aside from his appearance (Logano is 6′ 1″, 140 pounds), the only thing that leads you to believe Logano is a novice is the fact he realizes he’s “just a kid.”

“I think it’s cool, personally,” he says. “You know, as a kid, as any kid, you would think it’s cool to be on TV and in newspapers and all that stuff. But I don’t really look into it that much. You know, I don’t really read many of the articles. I don’t really let it get to me. I’m here to race. I have known that stuff comes along with it, which is fine.

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“You know, all the hype kind of goes out the window as soon as the race goes green.”

Yet Logano still has a chance to do what many other 18-year-olds do. When he’s home, he doesn’t do much sitting. He hangs out with friends at the lake and the go-kart track. “I still have a kid’s life,” he says.

As for a timetable for running a full Sprint Cup Series slate, this 18-year-old sensation will leave that up to the team owners and focus on the next race.

“I’ll let that stuff take care of itself,” he says. “If we go out there and win races, people are going to realize it, and that’s when we move up.

“When Joe and J.D. say I’m ready, that’s when I’m going to go.”

Once he makes the jump, Logano will be part of a team with several colorful personalities. He suggests he’ll add a carefree personality to the camp.

“I’m just kind of a happy-go-lucky kid that gets to drive racecars,” Logano says. “I’m a very happy person. I’ve got a smile on my face all the time. I’m a very highly competitive person, just like the rest of my teammates there. I think that’s how a lot of athletes are. We go there for one reason: That’s winning.”

Bill and Billy Venturini, a father-son racing combo, have said Logano doesn’t know just how good he is. “I don’t really look at myself that way,” Logano says. “You know, I’m here to race, but I don’t look back and say, ‘Wow, I’m good.’ I do the best I can and let everything else take care of itself. I’m not going to go out there and brag about myself and say I’m the best thing out there. That stuff’s going to speak for itself.”

Logano admits that if he didn’t have a skill for racing, he would probably be doing something much less glamorous.

“I’ve raced my whole life. That’s what I am. That’s what I do,” he says. “I don’t know what else I would be doing. I guess I’d be throwing garbage cans or something.”

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