Heading into this weekend’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 (2:30 p.m. ET/NBC/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the Joe Gibbs Racing camp looked like the easy odds on favorites.
JGR has won four of the last five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races including 15 of the 28 run this season alone. Furthermore, they’ve been by far the most dominant organization on road courses over the last couple of years too.
They finished 1-2-5-8 back in June at Sonoma and 2-3-4-11 in Watkins Glen last month. Also, heading into this weekend, Martin Truex Jr. has won each of the last two races and eyeing to become the first NASCAR driver to sweep an entire round.
Truex, was only 21st and 14th in the first two practice sessions of the weekend and second in final practice. The problem is, he blew an engine in final practice and will have to start from the rear as a result. He does have five top two finishes in his last six road course starts though.
Denny Hamlin will join him in the back after crashing in practice on Friday. He had to go to a backup car. Hamlin, though, was just 25th, fifth and 11th in practice in his No. 11 Toyota. He does have two top five finishes in as many tries on road courses this season and eight top six finishes in his last 10 starts on the year, but like Truex, he has a lot of ground to make up on a road course on Sunday.
Kyle Busch was only 13th, 20th and 18th respectively in practice and starts just 17th on Sunday. He has just three top five finishes in his last nine starts on the year.
Erik Jones has to win on Sunday if he wants to keep marching along in the playoffs, but he was only seventh, 24th and 20th respectively in practice. Jones, rolls off 15th on Sunday too. He does have two top eight finishes in as many tries on road courses this season in his No. 20 Toyota.