December 16, 2009

2009 Fantasy Rankings

25. Joey Logano

Fantasy Power Average*: 24.84
Wins: 1 (Lenox Industrial Tools 301, New Hampshire Motor Speedway)
Top-fives: 3
Top-10s: 7
Top-15s: 13

Joey Logano fairly well lived up to expectations in 2009. While his rookie season lacked a lot of the flash of previous freshmen such as Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, fantasy owners will be well-served to remember that the original plan was to bring him into Cup competition in 2010 instead of last year. Tony Stewart's decision to leave Joe Gibbs Racing for his own team brought the teenager to the big leagues sooner than anticipated and yet the kid showed maturity and rarely drove over his head. In fact, Logano did precisely what NASCAR expects from a first-year driver: he improved in the second race on nearly every track that hosts two events.

Detractors will be quick to dismiss Logano's victory at New Hampshire because that race was shortened by rain while the No. 20 stretched its fuel, but they should note that his other pair of top-fives came in the closing events of 2009. Logano drove to a fifth at Lowe's in the NASCAR Banking 500 and crossed the line third at Talladega in the Amp Energy 500. Normally, we would discount any finish on the restrictor-plate superspeedways as a byproduct of luck over skill, but for a rookie to stay of trouble in the draft, it's remarkable.

Expect more of the same from Logano in 2010 as he visits tracks for the third and fourth time. As he and crew chief Greg Zipadelli develop more chemistry, the communication will only improve and Logano is learning how to describe the feel he needs. It's too soon to tell which track types will be his favorites, but in light of his strong Lowe's showing, watch him closely on the "cookie-cutter" tracks.

*The Fantasy Power Average is a formula that consists of a driver's finishing result plus other intangibles such as average running position, laps in the top 10, speed in traffic and quality passes. Each intangible is "expressed" as a finishing position (e.g. the driver with the most laps in the top 10 is given a hypothetical first-place finish), so the lower the number, the greater the strength.

25. Joey Logano

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