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Logano didn't nickname himself "Sliced Bread" before he ever even drove a NASCAR race, and he certainly didn't ask Mark Martin to publicly rave about his driving skills, compliments that only fueled the hype around the kid from Connecticut. It was JGR, not Logano, that wheeled out an 18th birthday cake at Charlotte Motor Speedway to celebrate the driver finally being old enough to enter a NASCAR race.
It was Logano, though, who won his first race in just his third Nationwide Series start, and he followed it with two second-place finishes. With 14 top-10 finishes in his first 19 races, it was hard for JGR not to deem Logano a suitable replacement when two-time series champion Tony Stewart left the organization at the end of 2008.
But nobody predicted NASCAR would ban testing, a devastating blow to an 18-year-old who needed every minute of track time he could get to get comfortable in a Cup car. Then there were issues with his ever-present father, who initially was trying only to protect his son in his new world of NASCAR stardom.
Tom Logano, however, always seemed to be right in the mix. And as competitor after competitor took advantage of Logano's inexperience by driving all over him on the track, his father started to intervene. When he angrily pushed his son in the direction of Kevin Harvick last year at Pocono, ordering him to stand up for himself once and for all, Logano was officially doomed in the court of public opinion.
Never mind that Logano has gone chest-to-chest with Ryan Newman, walked away from rolling his car seven times in a spectacular crash at Dover, and many other things to prove his mettle. Nothing he does seems to be good enough for those who view him as a big bust.
That's not a fair assessment, though, just like it wasn't fair of JGR to offer his ride to Edwards when it was JGR that put Logano in a situation to fail. Some may argue that almost three full years is plenty of time to get the hang of things. Maybe it is enough time, and maybe Logano's numbers should be far better than what they are. But few drivers have been under this kind of spotlight. It can't be easy to be the replacement driver for a two-time champion and a teammate to perpetual contenders Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.
Logano is out of the rumor mill now, and Edwards is no longer breathing down his neck. It's on him from here out to prove his worth.
At least he's got a chance.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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