Tag Archives: Joe Gibbs Racing

Edwards claims caution-filled Southern 500

Carl Edwards survived a caution-filled night to capture his first career victory at Darlington Raceway.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver started 13th and struggled the first half of the race. A flat tire derailed his rhythm and put him two laps down. Fast pit stops and strong strategic decisions allowed him to gain one of his laps back. He returned to the lead lap after grabbing the free pass. After that, Edwards and his No. 19 crew put their nose to the grindstone to stay in contention.

Edwards fought against Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, and Denny Hamlin within the last 50 laps to secure the monumental victory. The battles produced tight racing and bounds of excitement. In the end, the final pit stop gave the Columbia, Missouri native an advantage, placing him first with eight laps to go. He took off, and the rest is—figuratively and literally—history.

“I feel like my team needs to be sitting up here with me,” Edwards said in the post-win press conference, adding, “They won this race for me tonight.”

The driver—who was a big advocate in the race’s low-downforce rules package—praised the end-result of the event. He stated he wants other drivers to see the enthusiastic racing he saw and push for the same rules to appear in 2016.

“I hope I never forget those last 25 laps. It was really fun,” he said with a laugh.

The weight of the win isn’t lost on the organization, either. Team owner Joe Gibbs said, “I don’t think you could draw up a bigger win for us.”

This is Edwards’ 25th victory in 398 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts and his second in 2015. It also marked Toyota’s 75th Sprint Cup win.

The Bojangles’ Southern 500’s return to Labor Day weekend was built up to the extreme, complete with a throwback motif. Teams and sponsors arranged paint schemes honoring some of the sport’s pioneers. NASCAR on NBC enlisted legends Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett, and Dale Jarrett to call a portion of Sunday night’s broadcast. Drivers wore vintage-style firesuits. The flashback idea wasn’t the only thing that made the crown jewel race worth watching; the use of the rules package and new tires added another element of unpredictability.

That element of the unknown led to eighteen cautions for a total of 89 laps, a race record. The increase in yellow flags led to another issue—lack of tires. Teams were given 12 sets of tires for the race, and it quickly became apparent that wouldn’t be enough. However, NASCAR refused to offer teams extra sets. Tire management was now the name of the game, and many didn’t play it well. That led to more cautions, making the event longer. The Southern 500 ended right before midnight on the East Coast, four hours and 28 minutes after the green flag.

Although the race was long, it was also full of entertainment and historic markers. The Southern 500’s return to Labor Day lived up to the hype and brought a first-time winner along with it.

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Busch to make All-Star return, receives Chase waiver

Kyle Busch is finally back.

After months of healing and rehabilitation, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was cleared to return to competition. He is set to make his comeback during Saturday night’s All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The news came Tuesday morning, along with a video Busch posted to Twitter.

The driver broke his leg in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway, the season-opening race for the second-tier series. After he wrecked, his car went into an inside wall with no SAFER barrier. Busch has been out of a car since that incident, which was nearly three months ago.

NASCAR announced Wednesday morning that Busch will receive a waiver for The Chase, excluding the requirement of starting all regular season races. To make the playoff field, however, Busch needs to win a race and be in the top 30 in the point standings.

“Our decision to grant [Busch] a waiver that allows him to continue running for a championship is one we discussed extensively,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, in an official press release. “The spirit of the rule never was designed to punish drivers who are unable to compete due to extenuating circumstances such as recovering from a racing accident.”

This will be a big month for Busch, whose wife Samantha is expecting their first child any day now. The baby boy will add to the emotional resurgence his father is currently weathering.

Welcome back, Kyle Busch.

Kyle Busch out indefinitely after injuring leg in NXS race

Kyle Busch is out indefinitely due to a right leg injury sustained during Saturday evening’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race.

Busch, who was driving the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, was in contention with nine laps to go when a wreck occurred behind him. He got loose, and his left front tire blew. This caused the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular to skid across the grass and hit the inside wall head-on. The wall had no SAFER barriers.

When trying to get out of his car, Busch struggled and required help. He rested on the ground and talked about his injury with the medical personnel. He was loaded onto a stretcher and rushed to the local hospital.

Joe Gibbs Racing released a statement Saturday night that revealed Busch suffered a compound fracture to his lower right leg. He also fractured his left foot. Busch is currently undergoing surgery.

Matt Crafton, who races the No. 88 Toyota in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, will run the No. 18 in Sunday’s Daytona 500. An intern driver for the remainer of Busch’s absence has not been named.

Follow this page for further updates.

New era for JGR includes Edwards, Suarez, and new sponsors

As a new era begins, an old tradition ceases.

The worst-kept secret in NASCAR was confirmed Tuesday morning at a press conference held by Joe Gibbs Racing. Carl Edwards is set to join the organization in 2015, driving the No. 19. Arris Group Inc., a communications manufacturer that’s new to the sport, will serve as primary sponsor for 17 races.

This ends the long partnership between Edwards and Roush-Fenway Racing. Though the news has been known for months, the truth is that RFR is lacking. With two of their top drivers moving to JGR (Matt Kenseth jumped aboard in 2013), the race team is light-years away from its glory days. The team has been a NASCAR staple and isn’t up to par with the changing times.

Arris will also be on a JGR car full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series; the announcement included Daniel Suarez, who will run the entire NNS schedule and some of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races. The company will also be on the hood of a NASCAR Mexico Series machine. This is the first time a sponsor has extended into four series.

Suarez will also have support from Escuderia TELMEX, a Mexican telecommunications company that takes interest in Suarez and his Hispanic background.

Though bittersweet, the announcement brings exciting news that two new sponsors are diving into the sport. NASCAR was lacking in that area, so this is a great sight for not only JGR but for the entire NASCAR community.

Ives to move into Cup slot, while Wheeler fills in for Grubb

Wednesday is a crazy day to be a crew chief.

An afternoon press conference with Hendrick Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and former Jimmie Johnson engineer Greg Ives revealed the crew chief plans for 2015; Ives will replace Steve Letarte on the pit box as the later goes into a broadcasting role at NBC. Ives, who currently crew chiefs for JR Motorsports driver Chase Elliott in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, was the lead engineer on the No. 48 car for five of its six championship seasons. This now leaves a spot on the JRM side to be filled.

This move shows that HMS isn’t messing around; Ives was the right-hand man to Chad Knaus and is an intelligent force. With him making the calls, the No. 88 team will be set to upstage the fantastic run they’re having in 2014.

Just after this reveal, Joe Gibbs Racing announced that engineer Mike Wheeler will fill-in for Darian Grubb for the next six weeks. This comes a day after NASCAR announced harsh penalties to Grubb and the No. 11 team following the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Post-race inspection found that the team had messed with block-off plates that are used in rear firewalls.

The violation fell within the definition of a P5-level penalty, which is defined in the rule book as: “Approved parts that fail or are improperly installed to fail in their intended use of great importance (e.g.; rear wheel well panels that fail and allow air evacuation in the trunk area; oil box cover that fails and allows air evacuation in the driver compartment; shifter boot cover that fails and allows air evacuation through the floor pan).

Not only is Grubb suspended for six races, he has been fined $125,000 and is on probation for the next six months. A loss of 75 driver and owner points was also involved.

The turn of events gives Wheeler a great opportunity, and it will be interesting to see what results follow.

For both situations, it seems like a lot of spotlight goes along with the role of being a crew chief. Happy Wednesday.

Silly Speculation: the future of Roush Fenway’s Edwards and Biffle

NASCAR’s Silly Season is infamous for creating drama, and this year is no exception. Two drivers highlight the free agent pool, and they both come from the same organization, Roush Fenway Racing.

Of course, I’m talking about Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. The veteran members’ contracts are up, and they’re searching for new rides. Pressure has mounted as RFR announced Trevor Bayne’s move to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series side. With him in the No. 6 and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the No. 17, people want to know what this means for Edwards and Biffle.

Edwards is definitely out; it’s nearly official that he’ll be racing at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015. It was either JGR or Team Penske, and Penske is adamant that they will only field two cars next year. It’s only a matter of time before this is announced.

Attention is now turning to The Biff, who’s lips are sealed. That, however, doesn’t silent other speculators. The rumblings create two scenarios: Biffle stays at Roush, or he heads to Michael Waltrip Racing. In this article on NBC Sports’ MotorSportsTalk, FOX’s pre-race before Dover showed some intriguing word usage by Darrell Waltrip about his brother Michael’s team.

Although DW mentioned Edwards to Penske (which is not true), the body language is something to ponder. Co-owner Robert Kauffman’s tweet is something to think about, too. Wherever Biffle wants to go is great, but he needs to pick it up this season. I think many people can agree on that.

As the Silly Season begins, it’s time for jumping to conclusions and reading into statements and press releases. Don’t worry, it’s going to get even more crazy as the summer goes on.

Elliott, Hornish find homes for 2014 season

The NASCAR Nationwide Series is heating up in preparation for testing at Daytona International Speedway later this week, with two announcements highlighting Monday’s happenings.

JR Motorsports revealed that Chase Elliott will be running the No. 9 car full-time this coming season. The car will be sponsored by NAPA Auto Parts, a company that threatened to leave NASCAR following the scandal at Richmond International Raceway last fall. Greg Ives will be the crew chief on the No. 9.

“[Chase Elliott] has been extremely successful, and I think the Nationwide Series is only a short step for him,” said Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the owner of JR Motorsports. “. . . we have every opportunity to continue [Elliott’s] development as a driver while contending for a championship. He’s that good.”

Elliott turned 18 in November, making him eligible to run in the second-tier series.

The team has also acquired Elliott’s father, NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, to test later this week at Daytona. He will join his son and returning JRM driver Regan Smith later this week in Florida.

This news follows reports that Sam Hornish, Jr. has found a part-time home at Joe Gibbs Racing. The gig sets Hornish to share the No. 54 with Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch, running seven races this coming season. Those races are as follows: the May race at Talladega Superspeedway, both Iowa Speedway dates, Road America, Chicagoland Speedway, Mid-Ohio, and Kentucky Speedway.

“It’s the best possible situation for me to jump into great equipment and have the opportunity to go right out and win . . . To partner with [Kyle Busch], and all the teams provides, with the support of Joe and J.D. [Gibbs], it provides me with everything I need to succeed.”

The former Penske Racing driver was a championship threat at the end of last season.

Both Elliott and Hornish will compete in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this year, bringing even more talent to the pool. The exciting news begs the question: Is there really an off-season?