Joey Logano on Jeff Gordon: Once a fan, always a fan

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So much has been said about Chase Elliott following in Jeff Gordon’s footsteps.

But if fate were different, Joey Logano could see himself trying to fill Gordon’s shoes.

Logano grew up idolizing Gordon. The former tried to emulate the latter’s actions and the way he raced, ultimately being one of the chief inspirations for Logano once he started racing himself.

“I watched him when I was six years old … and I was a big Jeff Gordon fan,” Logano said during Thursday’s Speedweeks media day at Daytona International Speedway. “Why? Because he was the young guy out there. I rooted for him.”

And eventually, Logano was racing fender to fender with his hero.

“You never think then that you are going to race against him someday or race against him for wins like we did in Texas or for a championship like we did last year,” Logano said. “That is really cool.

“When you are a kid watching whatever your favorite sport is, you typically don’t get to play with or against that guy because they are usually retired by then. Racing is cool because you get to race against your childhood heroes.”

Logano was quick to add that Gordon didn’t just blaze a trail for young drivers such as himself. Gordon also served as perhaps the last connection to NASCAR’s Golden Age of racing.

“He paved the way for a lot of things; (young drivers) is one of them,” Logano said of Gordon. “There are a lot of other things he has done that he will be remembered for: Obviously, the four championships and all the race wins.

“It is really cool I got to race against him. For me, I never got to race against Bobby Allison or Richard Petty but I got to race against Jeff Gordon and that is just as cool.”

Logano revealed that when he was struggling earlier in his Sprint Cup career, he went to Gordon for advice. Rather than Gordon rebuffing Logano, he gladly imparted some advice upon his longtime fan and now racing rival.

“I was trying to figure it all out and I asked him,” Logano said. “He started at a young age and had seen what I was doing and I asked him what I was doing wrong. He was very helpful on just giving me some very good advice to help me turn the corner. I thought that was very big of him to do that.

“Every time I asked he had something for me. That is cool. As a competitor you are always skeptical about helping your other competitors because you have to race against them, but as long as you ask he was always there to help. I think that is neat.

“I was able to relate to him quite a bit and we talked about how he got to this point and what he did and I shared what I was struggling with. We talked about it for about an hour and a half or more. That was really cool.”

And even though he’s only 24 now, Logano is already thinking about how he may serve as a Gordon-like inspiration to the next generation of drivers that will not only seek to emulate him, but eventually succeed him.

“Hopefully there is some kid out there racing quarter midgets right now looking at me that someday will kick my butt,” Logano said. “It is funny because when I was seven, the Hartford Courant (newspaper) interviewed me about racing up there and it was a small little thing but I said in that interview I was going to be Jeff Gordon’s worst nightmare. It is hilarious.

“I don’t think I am his worst nightmare by any means but it is so cool to race against him now. As a kid, you say stuff like that and you are seven and don’t know what is going on but I got to race against him and that is really cool.”

Logano will race in his seventh Daytona 500 on Feb. 22, while Gordon will compete in his 23rd and final Great American Race. Both will be going for the checkered flag, but from different perspectives: Gordon will seek his fourth Daytona 500 victory (his last was 2005), while Logano pursues his first.

And if it comes down to Logano vs. Gordon on the final lap? For Logano, it’ll be yet another childhood dream that becomes reality – racing his idol for a win in NASCAR’s biggest race.

Follow @JerryBonkowski