His nickname is "Sliced Bread," and with a break in NASCAR Sprint Cup series racing this week, it's a good time to reflect on Joey Logano's rookie season start.

But first I wanted to know where the nickname came from.

"It came from Randy LaJoie, an old Nationwide champion," Logano told ESPN. "I'm good friends with his son, and it's a nickname they came up with as a big joke. But then Randy does some TV things for Nationwide and he said it a few times on TV and it stuck. Now it's a joke that went wild on us."

After reading that, I couldn't help wondering how LaJoie reacted to being referred to as "old." I have a feeling he took it well, coming from an 18-year-old who is a friend of the family. Apparently the former champion has a good sense of humor.

And Logano had better have a good sense of humor, as well. That's because as heralded as his start in Sprint Cup racing was from the time he turned 18 in May, he's had a rough start to the season.

From the time the trucks pulled into Daytona Beach to prepare for the Daytona 500, Logano struggled in Florida. First he had an accident in practice for the 500. Then he crashed out of the Bud Shootout.

But a fourth-place finish in his 150-mile qualifying race was a positive turnaround, and it looked like things were starting to improve. Un-
fortunately for Logano, the improvement didn't last, and he finished 43rd, dead last in the Daytona 500.

The following week at California's Auto Club Speedway, he improved to 26th.


Then in Las Vegas a week later, Logano brought home a respectable 13th-place finish. But last week in Atlanta, the improvement gave way to a disappointing 30th place result.

All of that leaves Logano with an average finish of 28th in the first four races, and he sits 33rd in points with one to go before this season's car-owner points determine the top 35 automatic starting spots each week.

This makes always-precarious Bristol even more so for Logano heading into the half-mile oval a week from Sunday. If he finds himself on the wrong side of the bubble post-Bristol, he'll be forced to rely on qualifying speeds to make the fields.

Wait, you say. Why put so much pressure on an 18-year-old rookie? Doesn't he deserve time to learn the ropes?

Why yes, I answer. But when you put a young driver in the seat previously occupied by two-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, expectations are high.

And with a nickname like "Sliced Bread," they are even more so. Will Logano live up to the hype?

It's a long season, and only time will tell.

Ellen Siska writes about NASCAR for The York Dis patch. She can be reached by e-mail at esiska@york dispatch.com.