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By Monte Dutton- NASCAR This Week
Not only did the season’s 14th race come down to a battle between two drivers — Joey Logano and Mark Martin — separated in age by 31 years, but they are also the Sprint Cup Series’ best example of a pupil and a teacher. Martin, 53, was raving about Logano, 22, when the latter was 12.
In a sense, Logano nudged his biggest fan out of the way. He won at Pocono Raceway by what Martin himself referred to as the old “bump and run.”
“It has been acceptable in this racing for a long time,” Martin said. “It’s not how I would have done it, but certainly, if I’d have had a fast-enough car, he would have gotten a return. But I couldn’t quite keep up with him.” As Charlie Robison sang, “These are desperate times.” The general perception in the sport is that Logano — and in a sense, this seems ridiculous given his still-tender age — is under some pressure to keep his ride once the season ends.
Whether that’s true or not — or whether winning remedies whatever the situation truly is — a victory has to help. Beforehand, the worry was whether or not Logano could remain at Joe Gibbs Racing. Afterward, talk drifted ever so slightly in the direction of whether or not Logano wants to stay there. All of a sudden, he’s the one with options.
“No, I haven’t been informed on where I stand for next year yet, so it’s all up in the air,” Logano said. “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, not like we always do, but to get this win means a lot.
“It’s at a perfect time, and I think us teaming up with Jason (Ratcliff, his crew chief) this year has been a really big help for me, and able to make our whole team really work together really well, and it’s paying off. My hope is to obviously stay with what I’ve got and keep working with Jason, but you never know. 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.”
Now the ball’s back in team president J.D. Gibbs’ court, and it might not be a bad idea to come up with a new contract offer. The price tag may be rising.