Gluck: Logano winning races but not NASCAR fans

USA Today Sports’ Brant James breaks down the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500.

As beer cans rained down on his car at Talladega Superspeedway, exploding as they hit his windshield, Joey Logano wasn’t upset or insulted or angry. He was smiling.

“I was like, ‘Man, this is actually really cool,’” he said. “It’s the ultimate compliment in motorsports.”

That sounds crazy, since fans were throwing cans at Logano out of anger he was declared the winner over Dale Earnhardt Jr. following a controversial finish last week. But Logano could remember other times when fans showered a car at Talladega with beverages — Jeff Gordon’s car in 2004 and 2007, to be specific — and that made him feel pretty good.

“I was a Jeff Gordon fan,” Logano said. “I’m like, ‘Why does everyone hate Jeff Gordon? What did he ever do to anyone?’ I thought he was a good role model, a good guy, he just wins a lot. … His career turned out pretty good, it seems like.”

At 25, Logano is on his way to becoming the next generation’s Jeff Gordon. He’s going to win a handful of championships over the next 15 or 20 years — with his first perhaps coming four weeks from now — along with a ton of races. And he’ll likely be smiling and squinting all along the way, punctuating his own words with laughter.

For whatever reason, though, the majority of fans don’t like him. The boos have only gotten louder during pre-race introductions this year, which doesn’t make sense when contrasted with his happy-go-lucky personality.

Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski, who pushed for Logano to be hired after stumbling at Joe Gibbs Racing, believes Logano is in an area that happens to many young drivers.

“Joey is getting complimentary boos,” Keselowski said. “It’s like, ‘We like young winners when they win the first time; we don’t like when they win the 10th through 30th time.’ He’s getting those boos: ‘Now we don’t like you anymore.’”

But it’s more than just that for Logano, whose run of three straight wins has boosted his career total to 14. Fans view Logano as a spoiled punk who was overhyped as the best thing since “Sliced Bread” (his former nickname) and flopped while replacing Tony Stewart at Joe Gibbs Racing.

PHOTOS: Behind the wheel with Joey Logano


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