Richmond II: Joey Logano preview

JOEY LOGANO Opening Act at Richmond HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 3, 2008) -- In one of America's most historic cities, Joey Logano's historic run through the NASCAR Nationwide Series continues with Friday night's Emerson Radio 250 at Richmond ...

Opening Act at Richmond

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 3, 2008) -- In one of America's most historic cities, Joey Logano's historic run through the NASCAR Nationwide Series continues with Friday night's Emerson Radio 250 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway (RIR).

The young driver of the No. 20 GameStop Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) will make his 12th Nationwide Series start after a remarkable rookie season that didn't even begin until the first weekend in June, one week after his 18th birthday, and in his first 11 outings already includes one win, three top-five finishes, eight top-10s and two pole qualifying efforts. The victory, at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, came just 21 days after his 18th birthday, making Logano the youngest Nationwide Series winner in history.

But before Logano's Nationwide Series career is even 12 races old, Friday night's Emerson Radio 250 takes on opening act status for the Middletown, Conn., native, who will be attempting to make his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start behind the wheel of JGR's No. 02 Home Depot Toyota Camry. Last week, Logano's fast track to NASCAR's top series was confirmed when it was announced he will replace Tony Stewart in JGR's No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry full-time beginning in 2009.

No matter, in Friday night's Nationwide Series event, the competitive fire in Logano that has propelled him to racing success after success since the age of 7, when he began winning championships in everything from Junior Stocks, Late Models and Legends cars, will surely drive him to try relentlessly to add to JGR's remarkable run of 15 Nationwide Series wins in 27 events already this season.

Yes, Friday night's 250-lap run around the three-quarter-mile high-banked tri-oval at RIR will be the weekend's opening act for Logano for the first time ever. But count on the young driving phenom to make his usual all-out effort to bring down the house.

Joey Logano -- No. 20 GameStop NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota Camry at Richmond

You are making your Sprint Cup debut this weekend, but your last jump wasn't that long ago. What was the biggest difference between the Camping World Series and the Nationwide Series over the first 11 races?

"The jump from the Camping World Series to the Nationwide Series was pretty much what I expected. There was a little bit of difference between the cars. It's not a whole bunch, actually, now that they took some horsepower away from the Nationwide Series cars at the start of the year. As far as horsepower, they are about the same. The biggest thing that has changed was the competition. I learned quickly at my debut in the GameStop car at Dover that guys pace themselves, but when it's time to go, they push hard at the end. That wasn't always the case at some other levels of racing I've been in. I think the biggest thing is that I get to run against a lot of the same guys that I'll also be racing when I run in the Sprint Cup cars. I think racing against those guys in the Nationwide Series can only help me against them at the next level, too. Racing is made up of a bunch of little things, and I take a lot from every race that I run in and racing against those guys is a big help in the learning curve for me."

You've received a lot of attention from the media and the fans since you turned 18 and started racing in the Nationwide Series. Does all the attention bother you, or is it something that you are just used to?

"I'm fine with it. It seems like I've been in the limelight for quite a while. Certainly, after some of the things Mark Martin said about me when I was 15, people focused on me for a long time and I'm used to it. Obviously, there was also a lot of talk when I ran the Camping World Series until I turned 18 this year. It's nice to have all the attention, but the reason why I'm here is to race. At the same time, there have been a lot of media and sponsor responsibilities that have come along with it, since. GameStop and the rest of the sponsors are really important to keep me racing and I appreciate that. All of that stuff really doesn't bother me, and most of the time I just try to have fun with it."

The trend over the last few years has seen drivers getting younger and younger. You've been one of those young guys from the time you started racing up until now. How have you handled that?

"A lot of the guys start so young, now. I started when I was five or six years old. Back then, people didn't start racing until they were 16. I'm 18 and I've been racing for 12 years, now. I feel that's where it's different, but if you look at all sports, they're getting younger and younger. I don't want to say that it probably wouldn't hurt, but I feel I'm ready and I think when the team feels you're ready, they're not going to put you out there not ready because that's not helping me and it's not helping the team, and it's just not the right thing to do."

Chassis No. 2087: This chassis made its debut this past June at the Milwaukee Mile, where Logano qualified seventh and brought home a solid second-place finish. The GameStop team brought this same car back again in July at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., where, again, the talented 18-year old qualified a solid fourth and brought home its second runner-up finish in-a-row. Friday night's Emerson Radio 250 will be No. 2087's third-ever start.

-credit: jgr

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Drivers Tony Stewart , Joey Logano , Mark Martin