Joey Logano's first three outings in NASCAR Sprint Cup cars have the rumourmongers working overtime.

Logano followed finishes of 32nd at New Hampshire and 39th at Kansas with a 40th-place showing last Sunday at Texas, where he was lapped seven times.

His lack of speed has fuelled speculation that the 18-year-old phenom might not be ready to make the jump to the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota next season.

Team president J.D. Gibbs, however, has steadfastly denied there's any change of plans in the offing, an assertion reinforced by the series of TV commercials Logano already has made for sponsor Home Depot.

Tony Stewart, the driver Logano will replace, says he is confident the young driver's performance will improve once he moves into a stable situation with full-time crew chief Greg Zipadelli.

"It's something new, and a group of guys that don't normally work together on a Cup car," Stewart said of the crew that has been pressed into service for Logano's first three Cup efforts. "That's a team that Gibbs has had to put together to try to get Joey some seat time for next year.

"I'm glad they've done that. They haven't seen the results that they want, but we all know that Joey is better than that, and once he gets in the #20 car, that will remedy itself."

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News



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