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Confidence and Success Are On The Rise for Logano

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, July 2 2009
Joey Logano has had some setbacks in his rookie year, but those are becoming less frequent as his experience grows. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Joey Logano has had some setbacks in his rookie year, but those are becoming less frequent as his experience grows. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer

Daytona Beach, Fla. – The last time Joey Logano was in the garage at Daytona International Speedway on a race weekend, he likely was looking for a place to hide after crashing the famous No. 20 Toyota early in the race and finishing dead last in the Daytona 500.

But on Thursday, he walked in wearing a big, confident smile. In an lunchtime session with the media assembled behind his hauler, the tone was positive, as it should have been four days after he became the sport’s youngest winner ever.

But it is more than the gas mileage victory at New Hampshire that has Logano looking more like the driver everyone expected him to be when he joined the circuit full-time at the start of the season.

In the past six races, he’s climbed nine spots in the standings, from 30th to 21st on the strength of ninth-place finishes at Talladega and Lowe’s and no finishes worse than 25th. This from a driver who was 35th in points after the first seven races and barely clinging to a guaranteed starting spot for upcoming races.

Logano said the turn-around is due in large part to better communication between him and his veteran crew chief Greg Zipadelli.

“Mostly it’s just been me and Zippy getting to know each other better, working on the cars more, knowing what I want, him knowing what to do when I say certain things,” Logano said. “And we’re going off our notes instead of (former driver Tony Stewart’s). Little things like that are picking up our program.”

He said he’s already looking forward to next season and hoping that he won’t put himself into a points hole like he did this year.

“At the beginning of this year, we gave up a lot of points in the first four or five races,” he said. “If that didn’t happen we’d be in a lot better points position than we are now. But that’s in the past, and we have to keep working with what we’ve got.”

Logano said his biggest adjustment in moving up to the Cup series has been learning to drive the Car of Tomorrow.

“These things are unlike any other race car in the world.” he said. “There’s nothing that drives like them. As a rookie coming into the series… you have to figure out the car, figure out the race tracks.”

He said racing in the Nationwide Series helps him develop his driving skills, but not a whole lot.

“When you go from a Nationwide car to a Cup car, you might as well be a whole new race track,” he said. “It’s not like a lot of laps on the race track will help. It helps a little bit, but it’s so different.”

Logano also is showing maturity and growth away from the track. He said he’s learned that he has to think about his position no matter where he is.

“Someone told me earlier this year that the brighter the light, the more bugs it attracts,” he said. “You’ve got to be thinking about that. You can’t just go have fun. There’s always someone there ready to get you.”

He also knows there’s no place for foolishness on the track either.

“You’re going 200 miles per hour with these guys,” he said. “You’re going to want to stay focused.

 “It hurts if you don’t.”

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, July 2 2009
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