Joe Gibbs Racing is close to tying Hendrick Motorsports for the single season record in terms of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories in a given year. HMS won 18 races over a decade ago. This past Sunday, Denny Hamlin took his No. 11 Toyota to victory lane for the fifth time of the season in a victory in the Hollywood Casino 400 at the Kansas Speedway.
He’s one win shy of tying his JGR teammate of Martin Truex Jr. for most wins in the series this season at six. Kyle Busch has the third most with four trips to victory lane in his No. 18 Toyota. Throw in Erik Jones’ win in last month’s Southern 500 at Darlington, and JGR has combined to win 16 of the 32 races run in 2019.
They’d won all the big ones too.
The Daytona 500, the Coca Cola 600, the Bristol Night Race and the Southern 500. They’ve also won when the season matters the most too – in the playoffs.
Through the first six races of the postseason, JGR has won three times. That’s half of the playoff wins and half of the overall season wins as well. That’s why it’s not surprising to see them have three drivers represented into the Round of 8 which begins this weekend at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway.
Hamlin, is the obvious favorite with four top five finishes in five playoff races. Truex, has five top seven finishes in his No. 19 Toyota in the same races including two wins and a runner-up.
Kyle Busch has struggled but is showing signs of life again. He was third in last weekend’s race.
Hamlin and Truex combined to lead 186 of the 277 laps run in last Sunday’s race and look the part as the favorites to land in Homestead next month.
They can easily win again this weekend too.
Busch hasn’t finished outside of the top five at Martinsville since 2015. That’s 10 starts. Hamlin was runner-up last year and fifth in the spring race. His last four playoff finishes at Martinsville have been – third, third, seventh and second respectively. That leaves Truex Jr. who’s never won at Martinsville but did sweep both races this year at Richmond. He also has a top 10 finish in eight of his last 10 Martinsville starts including being second, fourth, third and eighth respectively in his last four.