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Gibbs hints at Logano's Cup role

Joey LoganoNASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs hinted at teenage sensation Joey Logano as the leading candidate to replace Tony Stewart next year in the Sprint Cup series.

Following the announcement of Tony Stewart's departure from the team at the end of the season, Gibbs told reporters that Logano has tested in Sprint Cup cars extensively and hinted at him being ready to replace Stewart in 2009.

"I think for me personally, Joey is a candidate for anything," Joe Gibbs said. "I think that ever since we got started with Joey and his family and everything with racing, we tried to put him in everything we can.

"I think we have a total now of 32 tests that he's been with us in Cup cars and everything. I don't think there's one incident ever where he hasn't stood out. I think our crew chiefs have had a chance to be right alongside him."

Gibbs added Logano is mature beyond his age and has been given the opportunity to get as much experience as possible, ever since he was recruited by JGR as a development driver. He said the 18-year-old is key to the future of their team.

"He couldn't have done anything that wouldn't have impressed us more," Gibbs added. "He is 18, but I think he's very mature as a racer and we've tried to give him every bit of experience since he's been with us. Obviously he's a huge part of our future.

"I think right now we have to make sure we work through all these things we're going through right now. We've had numerous conversations with him and his dad and we kind of know what they feel. We're just working through a process here."

Tony Stewart's crew-chief Greg Zipadelli, who has already worked beside Logano in testing, says his transition to the Sprint Cup wouldn't probably go as smooth as in the Nationwide Series, where he has scored a win, a second place and two poles in four races.

"There will be some lumps," said Zipadelli when asked about what to expect from Logano if he moves to Cup next year. "If he did it when he was 20, he'd still have some ups and downs.

"Look at Kyle [Busch] and what he went through the first few years and where he is today and how much more mature and because of that where his success is at so far this year is a lot of that. A lot of that is just his experience."

Would Joe Gibbs Racing finally confirm Logano as Stewart's replacement next season, he would probably make a number of Sprint Cup starts before the end of the season.

Logano will return to race action next week in the Nationwide Series at Gateway International Raceway.

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