HUMBLE, Texas—Roger Penske's opinion hasn't changed about the criticism over driver Joey Logano's upbringing—he still thinks it's unwarranted.

He also doesn't think it's necessarily true.

The team owner said Wednesday that although Logano's family did have money to help him fund his early racing career, the driver "has certainly paid his dues." Penske was reacting to three-time champion Tony Stewart alleging the 22-year-old Logano is "nothing but a little rich kid that's never had to work in his life."

"The fact that he made those comments about Joey's upbringing ... Joey, at 9 years old, was riding around in a pickup truck, going to races and trying to become a driver," Penske said. "He was hired by Gibbs when he was 15, worked in the shop, did sponsor appearances. He has certainly paid his dues."

Penske was playing in the pro-am leading up to the Houston Open. He was paired with Rory McIlroy, former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, former NFL great Emmitt Smith and Shell Oil President Marvin Odum.

Logano and Helio Castroneves were also playing in the pro-am. The two chatted at breakfast on Wednesday morning, then did some shopping in an adjacent merchandise tent. On the driving range before his round, Logano turned down an interview request, saying, "I made all the statements I'm going to make about that. I'm here to play golf."

But Penske is firmly backing his new driver, who signed last year to leave Joe Gibbs Racing and join Penske Racing.


He's feuded with former teammate Denny Hamlin all season, and Stewart confronted him on pit road after Sunday's race at California to complain about blocking on the final restart.

He later railed against Logano, and mentioned his upbringing. Logano's father owned a waste management company in Connecticut that helped Logano race while his sister pursued competitive ice skating.

"Any family with a young child who wants to be an ice skater or a skier or an extreme sport, the family is the support you need and I think his parents have done that for him," Penske said. "Tony talked about starting at the bottom. I was going to tell him that I started by delivering newspapers. We can say we both started in the same area."