Thursday, May 29, 2008

Joey's training wheels

Many fans are just beginning to learn of Joey Logano, an 18-year-old racing phenom who will drive in his first Nationwide Series race this weekend at Dover. But it was three years ago yesterday that I witnessed a scrawny 15-year-old named Joey make his Hooters Cup debut at Jennerstown Speedway in Somerset County. He barely made the race because rain canceled qualifying, but he left quite an impression while driving the silver No. 51 sponsored by Mark Martin.

I didn’t know anything about him, but there was a buzz around this boy who wasn’t even old enough to drive to the track. The kid was fast in practice and looked like a veteran driver.

He ran well early, but later had several problems. Halfway through the 250-lap race, Logano bumped Jimmy Spencer Jr. (yes, Mr. Excitement’s son) and both of them careened into the Turn 3 wall. Logano’s car suffered rear end damage, but he was able to drive to pit road. Spencer wasn’t so fortunate and quickly got out of his battered car. As Logano drove to his pit about 100 yards away from the crash, the wide-bodied Spencer broke into a full sprint, hurdled a concrete wall and went for Logano. Track officials restrained Spencer before he got close to the kid, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Logano made it back on the track and finished 27th. However, he certainly proved he had some real talent, and he gained my respect by into crashing anyone named Jimmy Spencer. Oh, and did I mention he won the Hooters Cup race in Mansfield, Ohio, two weeks later? It’s just a matter of time before he proves that he belongs in Nationwide, and eventually in Sprint Cup.


Scott Beveridge said...

Interesting post Mike

Mike Jones said...

I probably should explain why I'm not a fan of the original Jimmy Spencer. He won just two races in his undistinguished career, but one of those was against my favorite driver, Ernie Irvan, in the 1994 Pepsi 400 at Daytona. Ernie had the lead near the end of the race, but Spencer passed him on the last lap and beat him by just a few feet. I went to that race and I'll never forgive him for that!