CORNELIUS, N.C. (Sept. 24, 2008) -- Joey, we're in Kansas again. This time though, there might be a few more people watching. Like around 81,000 in the grandstands and millions on ABC. The last time Joey Logano set foot on Kansas Speedway in...
CORNELIUS, N.C. (Sept. 24, 2008) -- Joey, we're in Kansas again. This time though, there might be a few more people watching. Like around 81,000 in the grandstands and millions on ABC.
The last time Joey Logano set foot on Kansas Speedway in Kansas City was three years ago when, at the age of 15, he tested an ARCA car for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR).
Less than a year before the test, respected NASCAR veteran Mark Martin called Logano "the real deal." Word spread quickly through NASCAR circles that Logano was good -- really good, in fact. Soon thereafter, he was signed by JGR in the summer of 2005.
In the fall of 2005, Logano tested an ARCA car in front of the JGR braintrust, which included Vice President of Racing Operations Jimmy Makar and Greg Zipadelli who, as crew chief, was helping lead Tony Stewart to his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.
Fast forward three years. Logano will pilot the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry for Hall of Fame Racing in this weekend's Camping World RV 400 Sprint Cup event at Kansas Speedway as part of his six-race prep session (five with Hall of Fame Racing, one with JGR), that will prepare Logano for a full Sprint Cup season in 2009. He'll take over the No. 20 Toyota for JGR in 2009 with Zipadelli serving as his crew chief.
A lot has changed for Logano in the last few years. He won the 2007 NASCAR Camping World Series East title and in 13 Nationwide Series starts in 2008, Logano has notched one win, two poles, three top-fives, nine top-10s and has led 224 laps. Two weeks ago, he made his Sprint Cup debut and finished 32nd at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, completing 297 of the 300 laps.
This week, he heads back to Kansas, where his path to Sprint Cup began three years ago. This time, however, there's going to be a few more people watching.
JOEY LOGANO, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:
You've tested the new-style Sprint Cup car many times at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Will that help you this week at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway?
"I think it's going to help, but it's still a different race track. I've got plenty of laps at Kentucky and I've heard Kansas is similar. I tested there in an ARCA car three years ago, but I don't remember much about it. In my old age, I have a hard time remembering stuff (laughs). I think it'll be all right. I think it's a track that will suit me. The 1.5-mile tracks have been good to me in the Nationwide Series, so hopefully we can transfer that over to the Cup cars."
To the average person, all the 1.5-mile tracks look the same. Are they similar or are there differences?
"There are always differences. You look at Kentucky, the track opens up a lot coming off the corners, where at a place like Nashville, which is 1.3-miles, the track closes up real quick coming off the corner. Some of the 1.5-mile tracks have more bumps than others. From what I remember, Kansas has its own quirks, I'm sure I'll remember them when I get in the car this weekend."
You tested an ARCA car for JGR three years ago at Kansas. What do you remember about that test?
"Not much. I remember it was right after I signed with JGR and Zippy (Greg Zipadelli) and Jimmy Makar were out there. I think it was basically a test to find out if I could drive. I remember bits and pieces of it."
You were in 10th-place in last week's Nationwide Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway when you made contact with another car and cut down a left-rear tire. You rallied from two laps down to finish a solid 14th. How did you do it?
"You never give up. You just don't. It wasn't what we wanted, but there are pros and cons to that. It was good that we came back through the field, but it was probably a rookie mistake as to why we cut the tire down. I learned from it and I tried to make the best of the hole I put myself and the team into."