Logano to log first Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. --- When Joey Logano was just 14, longtime Cup star Mark Martin was ready to race him.

They'll get to do that plenty this year as the 18-year-old begins his first full season in NASCAR's Sprint Cup series.

Logano is replacing two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart in Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 20 Toyota.

Stewart is about to make a debut of his own, competing at Daytona for the first time as owner/driver for Stewart-Haas Racing. But he likes JGR's choice to take over the seat he had for the past 10 years.

"I feel like Joey is ready," Stewart said earlier this week. "For his age, he's a very smart kid and a very good racecar driver. I don't think he's going to have any trouble getting used to this series and he's got a team and definitely a crew chief that's got a lot of experience. He's got all the tools in place that he needs to be good."

Logano drove in a Nationwide Series event just seven days after his birthday, starting ninth and finishing sixth. He won the pole at his second race, then won in his third.

Logano then went on to win two more poles and post five top-fives and 14 top-10s in 19 races in NASCAR's second-tier series.

Word of the multitalented youngster began reaching NASCAR's highest series when Logano was a 12-year-old racing -- and beating -- much older drivers in late model sports cars.

"I'm certain that he will be a Cup champion, so my biggest concern was for him to stay humble, because when you're as good as he is it's not always easy," Martin said.

The Sprint Cup is a different level, but competing against older, more experienced drivers is business as usual for Logano.

"The way I look at it, I started off so young and I kept moving up at a really young age, maybe when I wasn't quite ready," he said.

Logano says the best advice so far has come from Gibbs family: "It's a long season. If you're to beat yourself up every time, you're going to end up killing yourself. You have to have fun."

The fun will begin for Logano today when he runs the season-opening ARCA race and NASCAR's Budweiser Shootout.

He's looking forward to getting some experience in the draft on Daytona's high-banked 2.5-mile oval.

"When they told me I was going to be in the Shootout, I was like, 'Great!' All the top dogs around me. ... It's going to be good for me to get that experience, get out there and gain some respect from those guys," Logano said. "Maybe I can get some partners for the 500."


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