DARLINGTON, S.C. – Joey Logano says his “sliced bread syndrome” is over.
The 23-year-old Logano was dubbed the greatest thing since sliced bread as an up-and-coming young racer by NASCAR great Mark Martin. Those were big words to live up to, and Logano said he was definitely too young to match that moniker when he first raced in Sprint Cup in 2008.
“Did I start too soon? No doubt I did,” Logano said Friday at Darlington Raceway, site of Saturday night’s Southern 500. “But you know, it’s experience that I value a lot right now.”
Logano laughed when asked if “sliced bread syndrome” was finished. “What is that?” he said with a grin.
Logano acknowledged there were plenty of bumps along the road from phenom to Sprint Cup title contender. He won just twice in 145 starts for Joe Gibbs Racing from 2008-2012. Logano moved to Roger Penske’s No. 22 car last season, and made the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship for the first time in his career. He is all but locked into this year’s 16-team playoff with his victory at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I feel like it’s taken me quite a number of years to figure out what I need to do in this sport and how to race against these guys,” Logano said.
Logano appears to have plenty figured out. He had a more than 2-second lead down the stretch at Texas when a late caution forced a green-white-checker finish. Jeff Gordon took just two tires and came out of the pits first.
But Logano and his four fresh tires quickly overtook Gordon on the restart and pulled away for victory.
Logano feels like his confidence in Sprint Cup is improving to what he feels racing in Nationwide. He became that series’ youngest winner with his 2008 victory, and added 20 more career wins in NASCAR’s Triple-A circuit, a résumé that gives him an edge whenever he lines up in a Nationwide event.
The win, the fourth Sprint Cup victory of Logano’s career, made him the seventh different winner in as many races this season. It also likely locked him into NASCAR’s new 16-team playoff format this season.
“Things are going good right now, so all that hard work’s paying off,” Logano said.
Logano said the victory took some of the pressure off himself and the team, giving them the chance to experiment at testing sessions on racetracks that make up the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
“We can get our guns loaded for when the chase starts,” he said.