5 September 2012
Penske confirms signing of Joey Logano
Sam Hornish Jr. stepped in behind the wheel of the #22 with just six hours' notice when the suspension was originally handed out, and he has been driving the car since then combining it with his full-time Nationwide Series campaign for Penske. He'd been hoping to get the #22 Cup car on a permanent basis, but the signing of Logano announced on Tuesday dashed that chance.
There was no mention of Hornish in the press release announcing Logano's signing, and his future with Penske in either Cup or Nationwide in 2013 is unclear. However, in an interview with USA Today published before the news of Logano's signing, team owner Roger Penske is quoted as saying: "At the end of the day, no matter how we end up, Sam's going to have a ride with us in 2013."
Logano enjoyed early success with JGR after joining the team in 2009, becoming the youngest winner in Cup competition at the age of 19 in 2009, the year he was names the series' rookie of the year. However, he's widely seen as not having lived up to that early promise in the time since then and has failed to make the Chase in any of his seasons with the team.
Logano is currently in 18th position in the Sprint Cup standings and will again miss out on the Chase cut-off despite winning a race at Pocono mid-season..
However, his current boss JD Gibbs said that there was no prospect of releasing Logano early from his current contract, so Penske will continue to need to rely on Hornish or another stand-in driver for the remaining 11 races of the season, which ends at Homestead on November 18.
Joe Gibbs himself, the owner of JGR, said that the team had worked hard to keep hold of Logano. "We tried a little bit of everything," he said, talking of attempts to build a four-car line-up as soon as next season. "Nothing clicked ... He had a chance to have other opportunities, I think he felt like one of those would be better.
"We had so much invested in him, and he's so young, and you know he's going to blossom and wind up having a great career. It's sad to think that we won't be a part of that," he said.
Logano will also clearly be missed by his current JGR team mates, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.
"I love Joey to death, I think he's one of the best and he's one of the hardest working drivers out there," said Busch. "I wish Joey would stay, but obviously if there's something better out there for him, he's got to do what's best for him."
"He's got a good opportunity," added Hamlin. "I think he's making a lateral move, and so I think he's as optimistic as anyone."
Logano will be getting a new team mate at Penske in the form of Brad Keselowski, who has been one of the break-out drivers in Cup racing in the last couple of years, having made the Chase on a wildcard in 2011 and by being in the top ten in 2012.
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