Logano’s Rise To Stardom Breaks New Ground For NASCAR

Charlotte, NC – When?s the last time you saw a rookie driver who has never run a NASCAR premiere division event get interviewed during a Nextel Cup race telecast?

Never, right?

That all changed Sunday when ABC chatted for a couple of minutes with Joey Logano. According to many ? including this writer ? the 17-year-old Logano is headed toward stardom when he turns 18 and makes his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut behind the wheel of a Joe Gibbs Racing entry at Dover next May.

If you believe the hype, Logano will be the next Jeff Gordon ? or better. Whether or not that ever happens, he?s already ahead of where Gordon was when he made his NASCAR debut in a 1990 Busch Series event at Rockingham. In a move unprecedented in NASCAR, Logano will not only come to the table next spring with a potent Joe Gibbs Racing machine under him, but also with a licensing program – a first for a driver not in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide or Craftsman Truck Series.

Facilitated by Motorsports Authentics, Logano?s rise to the NASCAR ranks will feature a full line of promotional licensed motorsports merchandise. Think out of the box for a second ? this isn?t the stuff Jeff Gordon is made of ? but rather more in the mold of NBA star LeBron James and NFL running back Reggie Bush, both who had huge endorsement and merchandising deals before they played a game for their respective teams.

In that regard, Logano?s deal pales any deals other NASCAR ?Young Guns? or ?phenoms? have ever brought to the table. It also makes Logano the first-ever driver to have a degree of parity ?both in buzz and marketing punch ? to rival those trumpeted in stick and ball sports.

While the details of Logano?s deals with Gibbs and MA have not been revealed, they certainly aren?t in the class of the $100-million plus contracts James and Bush have with shoe, car, soft drink and other companies. Still, the fact he has a deal at all and is being hyped before he ever turns a lap is new ground for a NASCAR driver.

And why not?

At age 13, Logano was already being promoted by Mark Martin as a replacement for the veteran driver when he retired. Since then, Logano has blazed through the Hooters Pro Cup Series becoming the youngest winner of a race in the division at age 15.

This year at age 17, Logano dominated the NASCAR Busch East Series winning its championship and capped the year a week ago by capturing the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. It was his seventh win of the season.

Now that he?s finally going to be 18 years old (the minimum NASCAR age for competition in a premiere series), Logano is going to get his long anticipated shot at the big time when he starts his Nationwide Series career May 31 at Dover International Speedway.

As part of Logano?s new marketing deal, a ?Countdown to ?The Dream? running clock will be posted on that allows fans to count down the days, hours and minutes until Logano?s debut at Dover. Additionally, MA, through its Action Racing Collectables (ARC) brand, will produce a 1:24 scale replica of Logano?s Busch East Series championship-winning car ? the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS.

Motorsports Authentics will produce a 1:24 scale ARC die-cast replica of Logano?s 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series car and a series of t-shirts, hats and other apparel will also be created by MA?s Chase Authentics brand.

While there?s no Nike, Coca-Cola or other big brand signed on to Logano?s deal as of yet, it will only be a matter of time before they come calling ? especially if Logano continues to win in NASCAR?s higher divisions.

Of course, that will be the determining factor. Ultimately, running well and winning races will push Logano into the financial stratosphere where his deals will rival those of Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Tony Stewart. Logano might even get to the point where he is on marketing par with LeBron and Reggie.

In a manner of speaking, he?s already there with an unprecedented deal for a rookie driver, and that?s a big step forward for Logano and NASCAR racing in general.

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