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Bad Days Dog Logano’s Search For Good Finishes

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, October 5 2010

The search for consistency in Sprint Cup goes on for Joey Logano. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

By Nick Bromberg | Staff Writer

Kansas City, Kan. – Joey Logano was at a table at an autograph session at Home Depot, signing his name on pictures of himself. Every time the stack appeared to be gone, another stack of glossy paper appeared, begging for Logano’s signature.

That signature from Logano’s left hand and the black sharpie was something that his 2010 hasn’t been – consistent.

“Very, very inconsistent,” Logano said, when asked to sum up his sophomore season at Joe Gibbs Racing. “I think last year we got lucky with a lot of things that kept us where we were in points. I think this year we’ve run a lot better but we don’t catch the breaks or we get in a wreck. We run a lot faster, we get good finishes or we get bad finishes. We’ve got to figure out how we can get something in the middle.”

That luck that Logano refers to is undoubtedly in reference to his lone Sprint Cup win, which came thanks to the rain and a pit call by crew chief Greg Zipadelli. As the rain threatened last June, Logano, who had blown a tire and spun earlier in the race, stayed out because he had more fuel than the leaders. And when the downpour came, Logano was in the lead.

A win is a win, there’s no disputing that, but there’s also no disputing that Logano didn’t have a car than could run with the leaders that day. At times in 2010, it’s been a much different story.

Logano has 11 top-10 finishes in 2010, four more than he had all of his rookie year. Two of those have come in the last four races; a fourth at Richmond and a third at Dover. But Logano crashed out at New Hampshire and finished 17th at Kansas after qualifying fourth.

“We just really need to work on not having those bad days. Every time is something different, really. Atlanta, we dropped a cylinder, can’t do much about that. Loudon, we weren’t the best car out there, we got dumped. That stinks. A few things this year have been a tough gig,” Logano said.

Plus there was that whole dustup with Kevin Harvick at Pocono that deprived Logano of a top five finish but gave the Sprint Cup Series possibly the best quote of the year when Logano said that Harvick’s wife Delana wore the firesuit in the family.

But it’s the flashes of speed that Logano has shown that could make him a popular sleeper pick for the 2011 Chase.

“I think we can do it (make the Chase) and I think we’re fast enough to do it. If you look at our top tens, we have enough top tens to make the Chase but we also have a lot of 25th or worse place finishes that took us out of the Chase,” Logano said.

And the stats back that up. Logano has only finished on the lead lap 17 times despite those 11 top 10 finishes.

If Logano was the lead driver on another team, that lack of consistency could become a big talking point. But since Logano’s alongside two established Sprint Cup stars, in Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, the immediate pressure that comes with a nickname like “Sliced Bread” has been muted.

“I’m lucky to be in the situation I’m in right now just being with Joe Gibbs Racing. (Busch and Hamlin) are in the Chase right now and hopefully we’re with them next year.”

“I pick their brain as much as I can. We have team meetings all the time after practice and sit down and ‘what are well all fighting?’ Loose here, tight here, typical things and just picking their brains and giving them my input on what I’m fighting and make our race team as a whole better.”

Logano said that the Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide COT program was lacking compared to their program with the current Nationwide car, but was optimistic that JGR could get the car figured out. Believe it or not, the Gibbs cars didn’t lead a lap in the COT race at Michigan.

“I’m confident that we’re going to do it. I think there’s going to be some stuff in the bodies that we’re going to find, the front ends are where we’re lacking right now. I think we’re going to fix that. I’m excited about it. I’m excited to be involved in something that we can bring up and get better. I kind of jumped in the Nationwide car and they were great already. It’s kind of cool to be able to bring them up.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, October 5 2010
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