Friday, 19 April 2024

Part two of my reflections on the year that was, and what’s to come in 2024, for Cup series teams:

Joe Gibbs Racing
Results; Christopher Bell (4th in points); Denny Hamlin (5th in points); Martin Truex Jr. (11th in points); Ty Gibbs (18th in points) 
Grade: A-

Despite only one driver making the Final Four, this was a very strong overall year for Joe Gibbs Racing, with 8 wins between the trio of Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell. Ty Gibbs did not win, but he did run very well as a rookie and had the second-best finish in the points among non-playoff drivers. With all four drivers returning in 2024, I expect all four, including young Ty, to make the playoffs and several to make deep runs. 

Denny Hamlin’s continued struggles with completing a title run will once again be at the forefront of conversation next season, but I wouldn’t put it out of the realm of possibility that Hamlin does win it all in 2024, and Truex and Bell could be right there beside him battling for the title.

Published in NASCAR

BROOKLYN, Mich. —John Hunter Nemechek took his fifth victory of the season on Saturday, but after Stage 1 you couldn’t have predicted the eventual ending of today’s Xfinity race at Michigan Speedway.

About a dozen laps into Stage 1, a skirmish involving three Joe Gibbs Racing cars (Sammy Smith in the 18, Ty Gibbs in the 19, and Nemechek in the 20) knocked Smith out of the race and sent Gibbs and Nemechek spinning.

Luckily for Nemechek, no significant damage was incurred, and by Stage 2 he had found his way to the lead, and sailed away with a Stage 2 victory and eventually a race win at the end of 125 laps. Gibbs also recovered well and finished in 4th.

Of note, it was the 200th Xfinity race for Joe Gibbs Racing. Nemechek ended up leading 65 of the 125 laps in the race to earn his first victory in Brooklyn and the 7th of his Xfinity Series career.

Published in NASCAR

FLAT ROCK, MICHIGAN — The hot streak continues for young William Sawalich, who at 16 has just won his second ARCA Menards Series East win of 2023. He’s the latest young talent driving a No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs, and continues to show he has the talent to succeed at higher levels.

Sawalich started Saturday’s race in 4th position, but was showing speed all race at the quarter-mile track, which hadn’t hosted an ARCA event since the year 2000.

The first 100 laps of the 150-lap event were dominated by Sean Hingorani, another young driver who had claimed the pole for the Flat Rock event, held in front of an enthusiastic crowd that welcomed the return of the series with open arms.

Even with a handful of cars falling out of the 16-car field for various reasons, there was still a lot of lapped traffic to negotiate, eventually taking its toll on Hingorani and allowing his competitors to catch up.

Published in NASCAR
Sunday, 24 October 2021 01:30

Is it Ty Gibbs, or is it the 54 car?

There’s something about the 54 car this year in the Xfinity Series. The car has taken an amazing 11 checkered flags in the 2021 season: 5 courtesy of Cup champion Kyle Busch (who thankfully has moved on from Xfinity racing, allegedly); 1 from Truck Series regular John Hunter Nemechek, 1 from Cup racer Christopher Bell, and — most curiously — four from the young man they call Ty Gibbs (aka the team owner’s grandson). Gibbs had an amazing Saturday at Kansas, winning the Xfinity race, taking the ARCA pole, and nearly winning the ARCA race (he lost on the final restart). Oh, and he also claimed the ARCA championship.

Did I mention Ty Gibbs is only 19 years old (yes, he was born in October of 2002, in case you didn’t already feel old).

The hype around him is unlike anything we’ve seen about a young driver like this since, perhaps, Joey Logano in his “sliced bread” days. (Of note: The team Logano drove as a teen — Joe Gibbs Racing)

Published in NASCAR
Friday, 27 December 2019 23:14

5 key NASCAR stories to watch in 2020

While it seems like the 2019 season just ended, the start of NASCAR racing in 2020 is just weeks away.

As fans anticipate the new season, here are a handful of stories to keep in the back of your mind that will be worth watching as the year unfolds.

Cup Rookie of the Year Battle
There’s a larger crowd than usual battling for this honor in 2020.

  • Christopher Bell in the 95 car (as a temporary stopover until a Gibbs car is vacant)
  • Cole Custer in Stewart-Haas Racing’s 41 car
  • Tyler Reddick replacing Daniel Hemric in the 8 car for RCR.

Rounding out the ROTY contenders (battling for 4th, in all honesty, with inferior equipment) are:

  • Quin Houff (#00 car — StarCom)
  • Brennan Poole (#15 car — Premium)
  • John Hunter Nemechek (#38 car — Front Row)

So how will this battle finish up? The way I see it, Custer has the best equipment out the gate; Reddick has a chance at ROTY if he can avoid the wrecks Hemric had; Bell has the most talent of the bunch and ability to get the win that seemed close but eluded Matt DiBenedetto in the 95 in 2019. 

Published in NASCAR

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.

Published in NASCAR

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