Monday, June 29, 2009

A Cup Of Youth Is Served

Joey Logano wins yesterday's rain-shortened Lenox Industrial Tools 301, becoming youngest Sprint Cup Series winner at just 19 years old. (Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times)

Many NASCAR fans expected Joey Logano to break through in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series when Joe Gibbs Racing announced that the youngster would replace two-time series champion Tony Stewart behind the wheel of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota last year. They're just surprised that it happened so soon.

Electing to stay out on a long green run, Logano and crew chief Greg Zipadelli's strategy paid off in yesterday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire International Speedway, as Logano was in front when the race was called on pit road after 273 laps. It was Logano's first career Cup win, and it came at the home track of both the driver and crew chief; each of whom hails from Connecticut.

"Zippy said to just stay out," said Logano, who became the youngest winner in Cup history at just 19 years, 1 month and 4 days old; obliterating the previous record held by teammate Kyle Busch, who was 20 years, 4 months and 2 days old when he took his first checkered flag in Cup at California in 2005. The victory at Loudon was a "dream come true" for the rookie, who said in a postrace press conference that he had watched and competed in his first Cup race at the Magic Mile, and was visibly elated to have won his first there as well. Logano is the second first-time winner this season, following David Reutimann, who won the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in a race that was also ironically rain-shortened. Logano is also the fifth first-time winner at New Hampshire, joining Joe Nemechek, Robby Gordon, Ryan Newman, (who also won a rain-shortened race in 2002) and Clint Bowyer.

Jeff Gordon finished second, and sits just 69 points behind Tony Stewart, who still leads the standings after coming home fifth yesterday. The season resumes Saturday night from Daytona with the Coke Zero 400, where Kyle Busch is the defending race winner.

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