- Ryan McGee, ESPN Senior Writer
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Well, so did Tony Stewart, and Mark Martin, and Jeff Gordon…and pretty much everyone else who has made their living around racecars over the last decade.
Since Joey Logano was a preteen on the bullrings of New England and Georgia, he has driven deeper into corners, jumped earlier in the throttle, and streaked across the finish line faster than rivals twice his age with twice his experience. Unlike baseball, there is no structured minor league system in NASCAR, and unlike football or basketball, there is no such thing as college or Olympic stock car racing. So chances are you haven't been tracking Logano like you have Matt Ryan, David Price or Ricky Rubio.
Unless you're a racer.
Before he was old enough to drive a street car, Martin had already played Jon Landau to Logano's Bruce Springsteen, declaring him "the future of NASCAR". A large part of Stewart's decision to leave Joe Gibbs Racing was because he knew that Logano was ready to take over the legendary #20 Home Depot Chevy, a car that's won 33 races and a two Cup titles.
This year he won his first Nationwide Series pole in only his second try and his first race one week later. He out-dueled 52-year old Ken Schrader to win an ARCA race at Rockingham in May and the following weekend Coach Gibbs celebrated the kid's 18th birthday with a party in the media center. Despite the nickname "Sliced Bread" he's maintained a level head.
Ryan had Blacksburg, Price had the playoffs and Rubio had Beijing. Come February, Joey Logano might just have Daytona.
That's why Joey Logano is NEXT.
Among the NEXT nominees, Joe Logano is tops.