Contenders or pretenders? Joe Gibbs Racing still has work to do
After a bad weekend at Watkins Glen International, should the Joe Gibbs Racing guys be worried? Our own Larry McReynolds weighs in.
Will Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth be contenders or pretenders in the Chase for the Sprint Cup?
Jeff Curry / Getty Images North America
By Larry McReynolds
Now I realize it was a bad weekend for Joe Gibbs Racing last week at Watkins Glen, but I don't know if they have a reason to be concerned.
I mean, you have to dig deeper and look at why their finishes were the way they were. For instance, in Kyle Busch's case, maybe he needs to simply figure out on a road course you only need to go 90 percent instead of 120 percent, because I saw the same thing from him Saturday in the Nationwide race at The Glen. Teammate Denny Hamlin got caught up in a wreck, obviously.
There are six races every season, that while still paying the same amount of points, are irrelevant to the rest of the schedule. Naturally I am talking about our four restrictor plate races and our two road course races on the schedule. A bad weekend on a plate track or a road course doesn't mean your team will be in trouble on a 1.5-mile track. It just doesn't.
With all that said, Joe Gibbs Racing fully realizes they are probably just a half-click or full click behind Team Penske, Stewart-Haas Racing and obviously, Hendrick Motorsports.
I know JGR had a bit of a rough run at Pocono, with Kyle Busch losing an engine and then teammate Matt Kenseth getting caught up in a wreck. They have to look at the positives though which include the races at Kentucky, Loudon, Daytona and the Brickyard 400 where all three JGR cars had speed and they performed well.
This upcoming Michigan race is a place we will be watching Joe Gibbs Racing for sure. Where Matt Kenseth is in points, I'm not going to sit here and say for sure he is locked into the Chase, especially with four races to go. Are we really going to have four new winners the last four races of our regular season? While, sure, it is possible, I just doubt it will happen, so Matt should be okay with the point cushion he has to make the Chase. My point is it looks pretty assured that Joe Gibbs Racing will have all three of their teams in the Chase.
So that is a positive for the entire organization but trust me, nobody knows better than Joe Gibbs Racing that they still have work to do for when the Chase starts to be contenders and not pretenders.