Insider Claims Joe Gibbs Will Not Claim the NASCAR Double This Season Despite Dominating

Published 09/09/2023, 11:19 AM EDT

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The NASCAR Xfinity Series unleashes its fury in the 1.5-mile-long, tri-oval racetrack in Kansas. Amid this, Joe Gibbs Racing comes face-to-face with one pertinent question. Will the number 20 team be able to maintain their steadfast dominance and become the regular season champion? John Hunter Nemechek has shown blazing speed all throughout this season. It will most likely happen again in Kansas. However, a NASCAR insider revealed why Joe Gibbs Racing might not claim the seasonal championship title.

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As the final dash for clenching that last spot for the 2023 Xfinity Series playoffs begins, Big Machine Racing driver Parker Kligerman and SHR icon Riley Herbst will perhaps battle each other with every trick they have up their sleeves. In that respect, Joe Gibbs is in a dominant position, with Sammy Smith and Nemechek both in the playoff rumble. However, the seasonal championship battle might not be one to win for the 82-year-old team owner.

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The last spot in the playoffs isn’t the only battle in the Xfinity Series. Crowning the regular season champion in this series is equally crucial. Joe Gibbs Racing driver John Hunter Nemechek sits at the top of the driver standings. However, the #21 RCR speedster is tagging him, just behind with a deficit of 23 points.

These two drivers have been challenging each other throughout the entire season. Most recently, Darlington witnessed Hill leading the pack seven times throughout 29 laps and holding off his closest challenger, Nemechek. Veteran media personality Kim Coon admitted, “They have just exchanged blows all season long at the top of that point standings”

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Parker Kligerman, the driver for the #48 Chevy in the Xfinity Series, explained how the competition between these two drivers looked like at this point.

“It’s been tight. Those two have been so equal…” he said.

John Hunter Nemechek and the number 20 team have displayed top-tier speed all along. However, there is just one thing that Austin Hill probably does better than Joe Gibbs Racing driver, JHN.

Kligerman exclaimed, “When I look at what Austin Hill and that 21 team have accomplished… One thing that they’ve done so much better than they did last year was at the road courses, at the downforce tracks… They have brought a level of speed and execution in a lot of respects that I don’t think they had last year.”

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“What the 21 team does better than any team right now in the series is execute… they barely have a car that’s fast enough to be in the top 10; yet they out-execute everyone on pit road, they have the right strategies. Austin does a great job on restarts and there they find themselves in the top 5 finish or even at Pocono competing for a win and getting that win,” he added.

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According to Parker Kligerman, despite having a 23-point buffer, Nemechek might not maintain his stronghold if Austin Hill brings his world-class execution game onto the tracks of Kansas. “If they bring the same level of execution they brought for most of this regular season, I don’t think it’s going to be easy for the 20 team to use their speed advantage to beat the 21.”

However, Steve Letarte thought otherwise. He pointed out that it has been a great season for Nemechek since he stepped down from competing in the Cup Series.

Nemechek’s only full season in the Cup was back in 2020 when he drove the #38 Ford for Front Row Motorsports. Since then, he has been a part of the Toyota Development pipeline. He has also driven for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series before transitioning to Joe Gibbs Racing. The last three years have been the most eventful for the 26-year-old. He bagged 13 of his 20 national series victories during that period.

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Letarte stated, “It’s been a monster week for John Hunter. He’s going back to the Cup series, driving for Legacy in a Toyota. I think he’s going to be super fast in Kansas. I think he wins the race, is my prediction.”

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But then, he contradicted himself saying, “It’s (Nemechek’s win) gonna be too little too late. I think the 21 car will stay too close. Much like the bubble, the regular season championship is a body of work and I think the body of work for the 21 will carry him on to be the regular season championship.”

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Written by:

Soumyadeep Saha

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Soumyadeep is a NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. He has done his Master's in English Literature and is a semi-professional bodybuilder. He has, in recent years, channelized his love and commitment for motorsports into a building career path.
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