Logano hopes win stops rumour mill

Joey Logano, driver of the #20 The Home Depot Toyota, celebrates with his team in Victory Lane...

Joey Logano, driver of the #20 The Home Depot Toyota, celebrates with his team in Victory Lane after winning the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Penn., June 10, 2012. (DREW HALLOWELL/Getty Images/AFP)

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:26 PM ET

TORONTO - Joey Logano is hoping that his NASCAR Sprint Cup win this past Sunday at Pocono International Raceway will stop the talk that his job in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is in jeopardy.

With the 22-year-old’s contract with JGR up at the end of 2012, he has been the subject of the rumour mill in the NASCAR garage all season long.

Add to that a winless streak that stretched back to 2009 at a rain-shortened race in New Hampshire and the calls were out that either Kurt Busch or Ryan Newman — both without deals for 2013 — would be in the driver’s seat of the No. 20 team at next season’s Daytona 500.

But Logano’s win at Pocono could change all that talk — at least he hopes so.

“I hope it shuts them all up is what I hope,” he said in the aftermath of his victory. “I tell you what, it just means a lot for this whole team. You don’t understand. Man, it’s just cool.”

Cool it may be, but until there is a signed contract beyond this season Logano, will still have second guessers following his every move.

Gibbs has told the media that he is solidly behind the youngster and that there are no plans to replace him.

He just hasn’t told Logano yet, and that is the sticking point.

“I haven’t been informed on where I stand for next year yet, so it’s all up in the air,” Logano said. “(But) obviously winning a race means a lot and it helps that out a ton.

“For sure, right now my future is not set with anybody. You need to go out there and win races.”

Sometimes even winning races in Sprint Cup isn’t enough, just ask David Ragan who was let go by Roush Fenway Racing in spite of winning last season.

Logano’s choice is to stay at JGR, but it may be out of his hands.

“My hope is to obviously stay with what I’ve got, but you never know,” Logano said. “Those things go back and forth and switch around a lot, and all I can do is stay focused on my job, and that’s driving the race car. Whatever happens from there happens.

“All that stuff will fall together eventually.”

OVAL TIME

While the Sprint Cup drivers will be tackling Michigan International Speedway’s newly paved oval this week, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series drivers will be on their first oval of the 2012 season in the Clarington 200 at the Speedway at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Saturday night.

It is the first of three oval events — including Delaware Speedway, near London, and Motoplex Speedway in Vernon, B.C. — before the series heads to the City Centre Airport track for the Edmonton Indy.

And 2010 series champion D.J. Kennington can’t wait to start turning left after two consecutive road courses to start this season in his No. 17 Castrol Edge Dodge.

“It’s not that I don’t like I don’t like road racing because I do,” Kennington said in a release this week. “It’s very challenging, but I’m just more comfortable on ovals.”

He goes into the half-mile Bowmanville oval with a pair of top-five finishes in his first two starts.

“It’s a pretty decent start. I think we had a top-three car at ICAR, but we made a few mistakes,” Kennington said. “Third in the opener was solid.”

Kennington is third in the points — seven behind leader J.R. Fitzpatrick — and he is ready for some short track bumping and banging at the CTMP Speedway.

“It’s a tough track,” he said. “None of the turns are alike.

“I think I won a CASCAR race there in 2005, but for one reason or another we haven’t gotten a NASCAR win there.”

FINISH LINES

Not to be forgotten on this week’s racing calendar is the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The world’s most famous sports car endurance race goes Saturday starting at 8:30 a.m. ET on Speed-TV. ... Next week’s IZOD IndyCar Series race at the Iowa Speedway oval will have three heat races to determine the starting lineup. ... Twitter — that social media darling for folks who can’t string more than 140 characters together in a coherent thought — will air its first television commercial this week with a NASCAR theme.

DEAN'S RANT

Interesting things are happening in he IZOD IndyCar Series.

In the wake of the very successful Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday, the buzz was about how a new aero package made the race safer and more competitive at the same time.

Instead of having the dangerous pack racing that was blamed for the death of Dan Wheldon last season in another banked oval at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, there was high speeds in Texas without the wheel-to-wheel stuff that disasters are made from.

And there appeared to be a good-sized crowd for the race at the cavernous TMS.

So why the discussion afterwards by IndyCar boss Randy Bernard about the series mulling over whether it should return to the Fort Worth oval?

Well it seems Bernard is trying to get more dough out of TMS promoter Eddie Gossage by saying there are other venues — hello Circuit of the Americas at Austin — that wants an IndyCar event.

It’s a dangerous game, especially if the troubled Austin circuit never gets completed and Gossage wants a deal for 2013 within the next two weeks or next season at TMS is out.

As they say in Texas Randy, better dance with the guy that brung ya.

GORDON NEEDS A MICHIGAN WIN

A glance at the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship points race shows that Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 Chevrolet team is in dire straights.

The four-time champion finds himself in 22nd spot on the leader board, a whopping 187 points behind Matt Kenseth.

More critical to Gordon’s chances of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, however, is that he is 90 points back of 10th place Brad Keselowski who holds down the final locked-in position to make the Chase.

If the No. 24 team has any hope to make NASCAR’s version of a playoff, Gordon must get there through the wild card door — and that means winning a couple of races between now and September.

Gordon thinks he can start that process Sunday at the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

It is a track where he has done well in the past with two wins — 1998 and 2001 — five poles, 18 top-fives and 24 top-10s.

He is even saying nice things about the re-paving the track bosses had done in the off-season.

Gordon has an advantage in that he tested at the big two-mile oval in April and came away with impression he could do well there.

“I am not a big fan of repaves, so the fact that I am talking positive about it — and still enjoying the racetrack as much as I always have — is a sign that I think they did a great job,” he said.

“We tested here and it went well, now we just need a strong finish.”

VETTEL TRIES OUT JERSEY SHORE

In an effort to quash rumours that a 2013 Formula One race in New Jersey will not happen, promoters trotted out Sebastian Vettel this week to drive a car around the proposed circuit.

The two-time champion was even a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman.

That, apparently was enough for promoter Leo Hindery to declare the race a “done deal” even though there are reports the financing is still not completely in place.

“I don’t know where these rumours are coming from, but this race is going forward,” Hindery told USA Today. “If we had any doubt we wouldn’t have brought Sebastian and all these people here today.”

Put us in the won’t believe it until we see it category.


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