Amid Constant Team Mishaps, Joe Gibbs Faces a Massive Headache Ahead of the Race at Kansas

Published 09/05/2023, 5:13 PM EDT

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The NASCAR Playoffs kicked off with a bang last Sunday. Without a doubt, the race at Darlington Raceway was an eventful one. Having said that, it wasn’t as fruitful for the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers as one would expect it to be. In fact, Joe Gibbs would have been disappointed to not see any of his four drivers make it into the top ten. Furthermore, given the history at Kansas, his worries don’t look to be ending any soon.

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Overall, the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series has been a productive season for Gibbs and his team. With three of his four drivers making it to the playoffs, expectations have skyrocketed from the fan’s perspective. However, JGR has struggled with a common theme lately.

Joe Gibbs faces a tricky situation ahead of the playoff race at Kansas Speedway

Last Sunday, Joe Gibbs couldn’t have asked for a better start to the race at Darlington with Denny Hamlin providing an impressive performance. After winning the first two stages, it looked like he was cruising to victory until things took a wild turn with almost 80 laps left.

Hamlin feared a loose wheel on his car and returned to pit road, which eventually cost him the race. While the reality of it was debatable, it was difficult to rule it out given Joe Gibbs Racing’s team’s on-track performance on Sunday. Even Martin Truex Jr struggled with a loose wheel which cost him being down by two laps.

In fact, even Christopher Bell struggled with Joe Gibbs’ playoff gamble. While other incidents did play a part in hampering JGR’s day at Darlington, their team’s on-track performance was a major concern. Now that the Cup Series has moved to Kansas, the troubles are only bound to increase.

Hamlin spoke on his podcast Actions Detrimental about the impressive record Toyota cars possess in Kansas. Co-host Jared Allen pointed out, Well, fortunately for you and I guess the entire Toyota camp, Martin Truex Jr, and Christopher Bell headed to Kansas next week, which traditionally is a track that the Camrys run very well at.”

To this, the 42-year-old said, Yeah, it is. It’s been a really good track for me and Chris Gabehart and our #11 team winning the race there earlier this year. And it has been for 23XI, won both Races, I think last year. So we’re all pretty confident, which is why I’m not too caught up in, oh my gosh, what happened last night and I’ve gotta shift my focus to Kansas.”

With the record at Kansas, the JGR drivers would be counting on making it big. While they hope optimistically, Joe Gibbs would be praying to not have any driver struggle with any kind of on-track mishap. After all, their three playoff drivers tend to do quite well in Kansas.

Joe Gibbs Racing drivers remain the favorites ahead of the race at Kansas Speedway

What Denny Hamlin said on his podcast was true and 100% credible. He himself won the race at Kansas earlier this year and has four wins at the track, the most among the current active drivers. Even Martin Truex Jr has had two victories to his name at the track, with 10 top-five and 17 top-ten finishes.

While Christopher Bell has raced only seven times in Kansas, he has finished twice in the top five and four times in the top ten. Interestingly for Hamlin, in 30 races, only five times has he managed to finish outside the top ten. Indeed, it speaks volumes of his expertise on the track.

WATCH THIS STORY: Denny Hamlin Signs New Contract with Joe Gibbs Racing Amid His Career Woes

As for other racers, Kevin Harvick has the best average finish with 9.9 in 35 races. The retiring Stewart-Haas Racing driver remains one of the toughest drivers to beat on Sunday as far as the JGR drivers are concerned. Who do you think stands the best chance to win at Kansas? Let us know in the comments below.



Written by:

Priyank Mithani


One take at a time

Priyank Mithani is a NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports with a passion for motorsports that began in his childhood. Over the years, he has been following the sport meticulously, and his insights are highly respected within the NASCAR community. Priyank is a devoted fan of Kyle Busch and has closely followed his career for years.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal




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