GIBBS TEAM SENDS TWO YOUNGSTERS TO BUSCH EAST SERIES
Logano and Davis Are Ready to Follow in Footsteps of Almirola
Led by 22-year-old Aric Almirola, Joe Gibbs Racing's driver development program is flourishing.
Almirola was one of Joe Gibbs Racing's first prospects, as he drove a late model in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series at the .4-mile Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C., in 2004. After scoring two wins, six top-fives and 15 top-10s, the Tampa, Fla., native traversed the Southeast competing in regional late model races. By the end of 2005, Almirola was running a limited schedule in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, which led to a full-time Truck Series ride and a nine-race Busch Series schedule in 2006.
Racing's next generation of development drivers - Marc Davis and Joey Logano.
Davis, a 16-year-old from Mitchellville, Md., competed for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Limited Late Model division at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway in 2006. Davis racked up six wins during an impressive rookie season, and in doing so, became just the second African-American to win a stock car race at Hickory since former Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Chris Bristol won at the famed short track in April 2004.
Three years after racing late model stock cars, Almirola has a slate of 18 Busch Series races and four Nextel Cup races (Las Vegas, spring Richmond, spring Charlotte and spring Dover) on tap for 2007.
"Joe Gibbs Racing has given me a great opportunity - now and when they first hired me to drive a late model back in 2004," said Almirola. "Each year there has been a new challenge, and each year I wanted that challenge. Now I have a lot of Busch Series races and five Nextel Cup races to keep me on my toes. It's another great opportunity, and I plan to make the most of it."
Hoping to follow in Almirola's footsteps is Joe Gibbs
Joey Logano (51 Photo)
Logano, a 16-year-old from Middletown, Conn., who began racing at age six in quarter-midgets, most recently competed in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series. He won two races and a pole en route to a solid fifth-place finish in the Southern Division point standings.
Together, Davis and Logano will take another step up the NASCAR ladder as the two compete full-time in the NASCAR Busch East Series while running select NASCAR Busch West Series races, with both drivers eyeing the post-season Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway in late October.
Davis will drive the No. 18 while Logano will compete in the No. 20. Both racers will drive Chevrolet Monte Carlos with associate sponsorship from Joe Gibbs Driven, a licensing program for the automotive aftermarket that features a line of racing lubricants. Primary sponsorship for both cars is still being pursued.
"I learned a lot last year running late models at Hickory and I can't wait to run bigger and faster cars in Busch East," said Davis. "Everything I've done in life has been about
racing, and to have an opportunity like this means everything. No one has higher expectations than me."
"This is exactly where I want to be," said Logano. "I'm going to get a lot of seat time at some pretty big tracks. It's going to be a huge learning experience, but it's something I'm ready for and something I want. The season can't start soon enough."