Logano could be next NASCAR star

It seems like yesterday.

Little Joey Logano zooms around the quartermile of Atlanta Motor Speedway in his Bandolero race car on his way to yet another Thursday Thunder checkered flag.

Like so many young racers, Logano would tell those who would listen that he wanted to compete with the big boys of NASCAR when he grew up.

It might have seemed like a pipe dream. Simply the words of a young child dreaming about playing in a grown up world.

After all, there are many 9-year-old boys playing baseball who want to be the next Chipper Jones, and there are just as many young racers who tool around the Legends and Bandolero series who envision themselves in Victory Lane at a NASCAR race.

Most don't ever make it.

Logano has, and it appears he's in it for the long haul.

From the beginning, there was something different about Logano, When he strapped himself into his car, he was all business.

Logano quickly jumped up to the bigger and more powerful Legend's cars where as a 10-year-old, the talented driver conqured his new racing world with such ease, he rewrote the Atlanta Motor Speedway record books, including winning 14-straight times.

During Logano's winning streak, those who went out to watch the boy wonder, quickly learned that racing was more than a hobby for the up-and-coming prodigy who was home-schooled by his parents en route to earning a large collection of racing accolades, including winning a Legends National title at the age of 12.

Logano then graduated to late model cars where he carved out his bright future.

NASCAR veteran Mark Martin saw something in Logano from the start, calling the young driver the "real deal", and predicting success for the teenager wth Georgia roots.

There can't be higher praise. Martin has been around the NASCAR block long enough to know talent when he sees it.

Logano, who just turned 18, hasn't raced on the Sprint Cup Circut just yet, but he is already making a name for himself on the Nationwide series.

The former Thursday Thunder star didn't make his Nationwide debut until May, but it didn't take him long to make an immediate impact on the series.

Driving for former Washington Redskins football coach turned NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, it took Logano all of three races to take the checkered flag.

Gibbs has been a great judge of talent both on the football field, winning three Super Bowls, and on the track, winning, three NASCAR titles.

He might just look like a genius with Logano as part of his stable of drivers.

The Gibbs team could have taken a hit this earlier this year when former two-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart announced he was leaving next season to be co-owner of his own team.

There's no need for Gibbs to panic. The veteran team owner doesn't need to look past his own garage to find Stewart's replacement.

Logano is ready to step in and fill the void.

He's ready to be NASCAR's next star and who knows maybe ready to be a series champion.

(Doug Gorman is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at dgorman@news-daily.com)