Even as a pall hangs in the over the Joe Gibbs Racing garage with the death of JD Gibbs, the team goes forward with big plans to once again contend for a title. While they came up short, Kyle Busch and new JGR driver Martin Truex Jr. represented two-thirds of the “Big Three” in 2018.
It doesn’t end there for Joe Gibbs Racing, perhaps the deepest team in NASCAR. Denny Hamlin is a perennial contender. Finishing 11th and going winless in 2018, he will be geared up for a bounce back in 2019. Can you believe he’s turning 39? In terms of NASCAR years, he’s still got mileage left in the tank. For all the championships he’s been a contender for, Hamlin still hasn’t won one, another motivating factor. If this team were on a slide, this could be a concern, but Hamlin has plenty of support in his corner.
Erik Jones brings youth to the team. With his victory last July in the Coke Zero 400, Jones can cross that first Cup victory off his list. The successor to Matt Kenseth in the 20 car once piloted by Tony Stewart, Jones has shown great promise in his young career that saw him win 16 races between the truck series and Xfinity.
Look, Busch, Truex, Hamlin and Jones have won collectively over 100 races at the Cup level. Busch won a championship in 2015 for Joe Gibbs Racing, Truex won it all in 2018 with JGR-aligned Furniture Row Racing. Dare we say this team is stacked?
Say what you will about Kyle Busch, his rants, his antics- he’s a winner. A champion. You look past the bluster and the bad boy persona, and you see a fearless driver and a student of racing. He’s no dummy.
With Truex, you get that Horatio Alger story. While he came from a racing family, won two Xfinity championships and looked great early, Truex battled a lifetime’s worth of adversity. I’m not even talking about the battle his girlfriend Sherry has had with cancer. DEI was in decline during much of his career there, then there was the circus that surrounded Michael Waltrip Racing. His recent career has been kind to him. He’ll be great in that 19 career at Joe Gibbs Racing. You know it.
This train isn’t pulling into the station anytime soon. Racing with their former leader in their minds and hearts, JGR could be scary good this year.