Monday, 28 November 2022

Martin Truex is Gibbs' top dog; Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano both have valid arguments; and what's wrong with Kyle Busch?

Posted On Tuesday, 29 October 2019 01:32 Written by
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By taking the checkered after a day of pure dominance, Martin Truex Jr. is clearly making a statement that he is Joe Gibbs' best chance for a Cup title this season. By taking the checkered after a day of pure dominance, Martin Truex Jr. is clearly making a statement that he is Joe Gibbs' best chance for a Cup title this season. Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Things were heating up this weekend in Martinsville, both on the track and on pit road afterward. Here are my takeaways on what we learned this week in terms of the championship fight, and what that Logano-Hamlin fight was really all about.

Truex is top dog at Gibbs, Busch in the dumps

There is no more debate to be had. After his thoroughly dominating run to the checkered flag at Martinsville, Martin Truex Jr. and the 19 team are clearly the best chance that Joe Gibbs Racing has to win the Cup title this year.

Even if Truex, Hamlin and Kyle Busch all make it to the Homestead 4 (which at this point is very possible), former team leader Kyle Busch probably has the lowest chance at winning the title of the three. And honestly, the way things are going, he might not even be in the Final Four.

He’s been inching backward toward being a mid-pack car for what seems like a very long time now, he can’t figure out how to drive with this aero package as well as his teammates, and quite frankly doesn’t seem happy most of the time.

Watching his post-race interviews with the one-word answers are like watching an interview with a toddler who doesn’t want to eat their Brussel sprouts: It’s just brutal to see how little fun he is having (at a job most people would love to have), and I wonder if he even wants to be at the track at all lately. That’s not a recipe for championship success.

Truex, on the other hand, is kicking butt, taking names, and enjoying every minute of his season. Busch, deep down, probably wishes Martin had not come on board and taken away his leadership role at JGR, but in reality Denny Hamlin has also passed Busch in that respect, so the 18 team and driver have some soul searching to do in the off-season to get back on track.

If Busch doesn’t get off the grumpy train, and figure out the package like his teammates have, it could be a tough rest of the season for him, not to mention 2020.

Logano vs. Hamlin
First off, let me make a bold prediction right now. Joey Logano will sneak into Homestead’s final four contenders, and steal the title away from the Gibbs competitors. I just have a feeling, with the way he is under Hamlin’s skin, and the dislike for Logano from the entire Gibbs camp, that the cards are laid out for Joey to take advantage and win it all.

Now let’s talk about the “fight”, or whatever that was that happened amid the chaos. Here’s an instance where I can honestly say both drivers have a strong argument to make.

On the track, Hamlin was clearly in the wrong, and he should have admitted to that. Joey was right to be mad at Denny’s lack of remorse for shoving Joey into the wall, and he’s right that Hamlin is arrogant at times. It’s undeniable.

At the same time, Joey was wrong to push Denny, then walk away. That’s a weak move, and he recognized that and said so himself afterward. If you’re going to push someone, stay there and take what’s coming back. Otherwise you get the chaos we saw at Martinsville.

The winner in all this — The sport of NASCAR as a whole, as we need rivalries. It’s good that Gibbs and Penske, the sport’s top two teams, don’t like each other … that makes for good drama, especially in the playoffs. It’s also good news for Eddie Gossage and Texas Motor Speedway, who got some great advertising material to work with. Texas should be fun.

 The crew member went too far dragging Denny to the ground. And deserves to be suspended. Unfortunately, though many would like a rule limiting others from jumping into fights between drivers, crew members will always get involved in these things. It’s human nature to protect our own. They just need to be a bit more restrained than the guy who grabbed Denny.

Other notes

  • The rest of the Cup field will be very happy whenever Ryan Newman retires, which I assume will happen in the next couple years (along with Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick, the last of the old guard in the Cup series who have been racing for nearly two decades). Even after all these years, he’s a tough SOB to pass ALL THE TIME, no matter the lap or who he is racing, playoff contender or not. Reminds me a lot of Dave Marcis way back in the day — .

  • William Byron almost shocked us all with a win (he was just a tad bit off from being able to pass Truex for the win at the end). Young Mr. Byron is coming into his own … and I’m curious to see if he can continue momentum next year.

Underdog alert
• Among those who deserve accolades for strong runs include Newman (10thin a Roush car) , David Ragan (11thin a Front Row car), Chris Buescher (12thfor JTG Daugherty) and Bubba Wallace (13thin the Petty ride). Even Landon Cassill (26thin his Starcom ride) deserves a bit of congratulations for weathering the storm at the short track and finishing ahead of many big-name drivers.

Meanwhile, Daniel Hemric continues to be snakebitten with his luck in 2019. Every time I hear about him being a little fast, he seems to get into a wreck. Daniel Suarez has had similar luck as of late.

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Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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