Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Can all these guys get back on their game, after that Atlanta controversy? Joey Logano is looking smart

  Another NASCAR newcomer making waves: Joey Logano (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   BRISTOL, Tenn.
   So is it now open season on Brad Keselowski?
   Newcomers to NASCAR usually have to take it on the chin, and more than once, before they are allowed to start dishing it out themselves.
   That's convention wisdom.
   But not everybody plays this game that way.
   Dale Earnhardt comes to mind.
   Darrell Waltrip.
   Kyle Busch.
   Hard, aggressive drivers, who earned a quick rep that didn't necessarily endear them to all fans.
   So what next for Keselowski in Sunday's Food City 500?
   And is Carl Edwards wearing a white hat for giving an over-aggressive newcomer a needed lesson in manners...or a black hat for that frightening crash at Atlanta?
   Joey Logano, another newcomer, ripped off what Kurt Busch called "a perfect lap" in winning the pole Friday for Sunday's 1 p.m. EDT start.
   Logano, who will start next to Busch, is in his second season on the Sprint Cup tour, will be making only his 44th career tour start here. So he's still learning....just like Keselowski, who will be making only his 22nd start.
   So Sunday's 500 could be the tale of two newcomers, each taking a somewhat different road.
   "Experience is the biggest thing for me," the 19-year-old Logano (124.630 mph) said. "I'm pretty pumped up about this. And having the number one pit stall is very important here.
   "I've been coming here since 2006, in the Pro Cup cars, and I've always been fast, but always get torn up. So I just want an uneventful race."
    Goodyear has a new tire setup here, and Jeff Gordon says it's thrown teams a curve. It's based on Goodyear's Indianapolis tire, which is designed to put down rubber on the track as quickly as possible.  Concrete tracks, like this one, typically take a lot of laps to get down enough rubber for good racing.
   At the moment, however, tire wear is being closely watched by crews.  "Tire wear will eventually go away, once the track rubbers up," Logano says.
    "I know this tire drives a lot different than the tire we had here last year. But once you get used to the tire, it works well."
    Though Logano and Keselowski are both new to the Cup tour, they both have already notched wins, Logano last summer at Loudon, N.H., and Keselowski last spring at Talladega...in that dramatic, scary finish with Edwards.
    Keselowski spun out on one of his qualifying laps and will start 36th Sunday; Edwards fared much better, and will start eighth.
    Can Edwards get his game back on track? He lost a lot of points at Atlanta.
    "You have to be mentally tough," Edwards says. "Last week is last week.  You have to just go do your job and go do the best you
    "I could have used a race last weekend...but it is nice to be back here at the track, and I'm glad our car seems to be fast."
    And next, that meeting with Keselowski in the NASCAR hauler Saturday. "We'll just go to the meeting and we'll take care of it," Edwards says. 
    "I really think we'll come out of it better. 
     "In the end, hopefully, this is something that six months from now we can look back and go 'Man, I'm glad that's over with,' and everybody will maybe understand one another better."
      However sometimes newcomers to this sport have to wonder just what are the rules, says Jimmie Johnson, starting fourth here.
   "When I was running in the Nationwide series (when Johnson was then a little-known racer) Matt Kenseth wrecked me all the time," Johnson said. "It took until we were racing together in Cup for us to become friends.
    "He actually apologized: Like, 'man, I'm going to have to say I'm sorry because those years in Nationwide when we were racing I just crashed you, I just wrecked you.'
    "I always wondered all those years why he just wrecked me for no reason."
    Johnson laughed. "I remember one time in Dover I was running sixth or seventh, and he had dominated all day, but something went wrong and he was coming up through and there were just a few laps left and he turned me around and I hit the fence.
     "I was sitting down on the inside of the track, waiting for him to drive by -- and I had the engine running and I was just going to door him. And when I dropped the clutch to take off, the bumper bar had wrapped up under the car and I couldn't go anywhere.
    "Another one was with Jeff Burton in Martinsville, in 2003 or '04. He absolutely drove all over the top of me. Numerous laps. And I couldn't understand why.
     "He came over the truck afterwards and apologized...but didn't have an excuse. He just said 'Man, I ran all over you.'
    "If you're going to run somebody over, it means a lot to have somebody step up and say something to you.
    "With that experience, I've gone out of my way to talk to guys -- if I've meant to crash them or not.
    "One funny one was when Ward Burton and I got into it one year at Loudon. We were coming from the back, coming up through there, and we got together going into turn one, and I got into him and turned him around, and he hit the fence.
    "He got back on track (after repairs) and spent four or five laps trying to crash me.
     "I was pretty nervous (afterwards) about what went on and called his office, somehow got his home phone. And I don't know what made him more mad actually -- he was cussing at me, though it was a little tough to understand him...and he finally calmed down and we talked it out from there."
    Kasey Kahne remembers his first major league 'lesson,' from Gordon, at Martinsville.
    And Gordon himself well remembers the first time a veteran taught him a lesson about the big leagues: "Phoenix, 1993. Dale Earnhardt Sr. And me backing into the wall.
   "I remember it well.
   "At the time I was pretty mad, and didn't think I was deserving of it. But six years later 'Now I get it.'
   "I was racing way too hard for 10th place early in the race. And I had it coming to me. It was the perfect time to teach me a lesson. From the best guy to do it. And I never forgot it. And I learned from it."

  The starting lineup for Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com