Scoring The Big One: Joey Logano Wins The Daytona 500

Joey Logano celebrates victory in Sunday's Daytona 500 (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Joey Logano celebrates victory in Sunday’s Daytona 500 (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)

In 1997, then 7-year old Joey Logano told the Hartford Courant that one day he would be Jeff Gordon’s worst nightmare in NASCAR events.

Sunday NASCAR Nation began a season-long farewell to the retiring Gordon with the sport’s legend starting on the pole for the season opening Daytona 500.

And when the day was over it was the kid from Middletown, CT who dreamed of one day racing against his hero Gordon who had historically cemented his own legacy in NASCAR.

Logano will now forever be known as a Daytona 500 champion.

The 24-year Logano held off the pack over a final green-white-checkered restart to win his first Daytona 500 Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.

“I can’t believe it,” Logano said in victory lane. “This is absolutely amazing. … This is awesome. Daytona 500. Oh my god, are you kidding? I was so nervous, the whole race pretty much.”

Logano’s run to victory lane was not without drama.

Over the second half of the event it became clear that Logano had a car that could win.

Logano led the pack over a long green flag span late in the race, but a crash late brought out a red flag delay and set up for the two-lap green-white-checkered dash to the finish.

“I was trying to stay relaxed,” Logano said. “That was the hardest part. You’ve got a red flag and they give you the opportunity to think of everything.”

When the green flag came back out, Logano got the jump with a push from Clint Bowyer and led the field to the white flag.

With Logano out front coming into the final corners, the caution flag flew for a wreck at the rear of the field, essentially ending the event and giving the victory to Logano.

“Clint Bowyer was the best pusher out there today and he was able to line up there at the end and push out ahead,” Logano said. “I [saw] them crashing in the mirror. I think if we had got to the checkered I still felt pretty good about it.”

Kevin Harvick was second and Dale Earnhardt Jr. third.

Logano is beginning his third season in the Sprint Cup Series driving for Team Penske after spending his first four full-time seasons in the division driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“All the guys worked so hard over the offseason,” Logano said. “This is our weakest racetracks is super speedways. We were terrible at them last year. We worked really hard and hard work equals results every time.”

Logano led 31 laps on the day. Gordon led a race-high 87 laps but finished 33rd in his final Daytona 500.

“Congratulations to Joey Logano,” Gordon said. “That moment you saw there [in victory lane] with his dad, that’s what it’s all about. These types of moments, it’s such a big race, it means so much to all of us and you want to share that with the people that you’re closest to, that have been there along the way. Congratulations to him.”

Logano began his racing career competing at the Silver City Quarter Midget Club in Meriden.

By the time he was 9, Logano had won three consecutive Quarter Midget national titles.

In the summer of 1999, Logano’s father Tom sold his Portland based waste management company and moved the family to Alpharetta, Ga., to further his son’s racing dreams.

By the time he was 16 Logano was already signed to a contract with the NASCAR heavyweight team Joe Gibbs Racing and was being touted nationally as the next big thing in the sport.

He won the K&N Pro Series East championship as a rookie in 2007. He became the youngest winner ever in NASCAR’s second-tier Xfinity Series in just his third start in the division in 2008. In 2009, with much fanfare and ballooned expectations from those around the sport, he replaced Tony Stewart in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Sprint Cup Series ride.

But his struggles in the division were immediate. On June 28, 2009, under strange circumstances, he won his first Sprint Cup Series event in the rain shortened Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. But it was one of the few highlights of a rookie season that saw him finish 20th in the series standings.

After four consecutive finishes outside of the top-15 in the standings, Logano was gone from Joe Gibbs Racing and making a new start at Team Penske in 2013.

He finished eighth in the standings his first year with Penske and last year had five victories and was one of the four drivers racing for the championship on the final day of the Sprint Cup season.

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  1. Andy Boright says

    How much racing did Logano do at any of the CT race tracks?

    My sense is not very much.

  2. darealgoodfella says

    The kid has talent, but motorsports has the same problems as baseball, football, hockey, basketball, etc.

    Someone that is too young to participate in the sport can be touted as the next superstar, and s/he gets promoted and pursued ridiculously. Ever owner wants the next celebrity on his team, and they pour unlimited dollars at these too young talents and are purely speculating. The owners want to lock up potential talent before another owner does. Then when expectations aren’t met, there’s all sorts of finger-pointing, embarrassment, etc. Many more identified as the next superstar never flourished and just faded away. Look at the UConn basketball program… if you listen to Calhoun, you’d believe that he was solely responsible for providing half the superstars of the NBA. He wants you to think UCONN is THE NBA farm system. And it just isn’t so.

    It turns out that it is extremely rare that someone can go right from high school to be a super star in the NBA, or any professional level sports. Trying to make that happen as the norm is a huge mistake.

    Logano is good on his own, ignore the expectations of others. Everyone thinks their favorite is going to win everything, everyone thinks their favorite was cheated out of something, etc. Enjoy what it is for what it is.

    Logano was fast-tracked, and perhaps he should have spent more time in the minor leagues to calibrate expectations.

  3. Andy- he raced Quarter Midgets at the Little T and ran a K&N race at Thompson; other than that I don’t think he raced in any local divisions.

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