Gibbs wants to get Logano in Sprint Cup action before end of year

Updated: June 16, 2008, 3:42 AM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Joey Logano, who in only his third Nationwide Series start won on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway, likely will compete in a few Sprint Cup races for Joe Gibbs Racing before the end of the season.

Impatient Youth

Joey Logano became the youngest driver in Nationwide Series history to win a race, breaking the nine-year mark of Casey Atwood who won at 18 years, 313 days old.

Driver Years-Days Track
'08 Joey Logano 18-21 Kentucky
'99 Casey Atwood 18-313 Milwaukee
'04 Kyle Busch 19-12 Richmond

"We would like to get him in some Cup stuff towards the end of the year," team owner Joe Gibbs said before Sunday's Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. "We want to make sure it's the good stuff and the right way."

Gibbs said it was too late in the year to start a fourth Cup team for Logano to run fulltime next season.

Asked if Logano might replace Tony Stewart should the two-time Cup champion leave for another team, Gibbs said, "I don't think we've gone in that direction yet. We're still trying to work things out."

Stewart is being pursued by several teams, including at least one [Haas CNC Racing] that is offering ownership. Gibbs and his son, team president J.D. Gibbs, have been emphatic that they won't part with Stewart before his contract expires after 2009.

They remain optimistic that he will re-sign with JGR and end his career there.

"Certainly where we are with Tony right now it's hard to predict the future," Gibbs said. The future for the 18-year-old Logano definitely looks bright. In three Nationwide races he has a win, two top 10s and two poles. He led 64 laps last week at Dover before being caught up in a wreck that left him 31st.

"I was so concerned the first part of the year with Joey, even though we knew all the talent and everything he had, I was worried about all the pressure and everything that had been put on him," Gibbs said.

The way Logano has handled the pressure and tested in Cup cars makes Gibbs less hesitant to put him into a Cup race.

"Every time he gets in there he's extremely smooth and seems to handle everything well," he said. "Denny [Hamlin] kind of changed my mind about guys. Denny came out of Late Models. One year later we said, 'Should we put him in a Cup car?' He jumped in a Cup car and took off. The rest is history.

"With some young guys they have that kind of talent, but it doesn't come along very often. ... We're just thrilled to get off to that kind of a start with him. He's mature beyond his years."

Gibbs also is thrilled with the fast start of points leader Kyle Busch, who has four Cup wins and 10 between the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series. Gibbs is not concerned that Busch has taken on too much the past two weeks driving in six races in five different states between the two series.

But like he did in 2002, when Stewart won his first Cup title, Gibbs isn't beyond asking Busch to scale back his schedule once the 10-race playoff begins.

It may not get to that point. Busch already has backed off plans to run the Nationwide race in Milwaukee next weekend.

"Obviously, over here there's a lot that goes into it," Gibbs said. "A lot of people count on him. That would just be a discussion we would have. I'm sure it would be a common sense thing. You wouldn't want to do anything that would run the risk of jeopardizing what we have here."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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