NASCAR & Auto Racing

Experiment ends early: Schrader in No. 96 in place of Logano

SPARTA, Ky. - Joey Logano will stop driving Sprint Cup Series races this season for Hall of Fame Racing.

The 18-year-old phenom is set to replace Tony Stewart in Joe Gibbs Racing's flagship No. 20 next season. The team scheduled him for a handful of starts in a fourth JGR entry this year, and loaned him to Hall of Fame for another five races.

But his first two races in the No. 96 were a struggle. He finished 32nd in his Cup debut in New Hampshire and was 39th last week at Kansas.

Logano was scheduled to make three more starts for Hall of Fame this year, but instead will turn the wheel over to Ken Schrader and focus on the Nationwide Series. Logano's still scheduled to drive the No. 02 for JGR in Atlanta later this month, and he'll compete in the Truck Series and ARCA Series races at Talladega this weekend.

JGR president J.D. Gibbs said the decision to pull Logano from the No. 96 was a mutual decision with Hall of Fame Racing.

"This was the best thing for everyone. This will allow Joey to concentrate on his remaining races in the Nationwide Series and preparing for next season," Gibbs said Wednesday. "It also provides continuity for Hall of Fame Racing as they focus on their plan for the rest of this season and the future."

Logano said he learned in the two Cup races with Hall of Fame, but was disappointed with the results.

"They were nowhere near the runs we were looking for," Logano said while testing at Kentucky Speedway. "Personally, I'd like to race a lot better, so we cut a little of those (HOF) races back, but I think it was worth it."

Logano became the youngest winner in Nationwide Series history at Kentucky in June and earned a quick promotion to the Sprint Cup. He got Stewart's seat when the two-time champion decided to leave JGR at the end of the year to own Stewart-Haas Racing.

Logano hoped getting several Cup races under his belt for Hall of Fame Racing this fall would make the transition easier. Instead, he struggled to find any rhythm with the team, which was using an engine package provided by JGR.

He plans to return to the Nationwide Series at Charlotte next week hoping to regain some of the form he showed earlier in the year. Logano has one win, three top-fives and 10 top-10 finishes through 14 starts this season.

"As far as the Nationwide side, we're trying to figure out what we've got to do to get back running up front again," Logano said. "Whether it's me or the car, whatever it is, we're going to go through and figure out what it is."