Joe Gibbs Racing has put everyone on notice that they have regained their winning form when Martin Truex Jr. collected his second Martinsville Grandfather clock of his career on Wednesday, and then on Sunday in a weather delayed event at Homestead-Miami, Denny Hamlin captured his third victory of the season (Daytona, Darlington). And as a result, Joe Gibbs Racing has tied Team Penske for the series-most wins in 2020 at four each.
Heading into Talladega this weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing is hoping to build off of the early success. Not only does Hamlin lead the series in wins this season, he also leads the JGR stable in wins at Daytona and Talladega (all-time) with four (three Daytona 500 wins and 2014 May Talladega); followed by NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart with three (2008 Oct. Talladega and 2005, 2006 July Daytona), two-time series champ Kyle Busch with two (2008 July Daytona, 2008 April Talladega), NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett (1993 Daytona 500) and Erik Jones (July Daytona) each have one. The only current JGR driver still looking for his first win on a superspeedway is Martin Truex Jr., but he does have two runner-up finishes at Daytona.
Though two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers are locked into the Playoffs on wins (Hamlin and Truex), all four JGR teammates will be looking to advance their position in the driver standings – Truex (sixth, -53 back from the points lead), Hamlin (seventh, -68), Kyle Busch (ninth, -104) and Erik Jones (18th, -190). Both Busch and Jones are still looking for their first wins of the season.
While the momentum might be at their backs following Homestead-Miami, the organization will still look to snap a Talladega winless streak that dates back to Hamlin’s win in 2014 – the last time a Toyota visited Victory Lane at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Last season in this race, Kyle Busch was the highest-finishing JGR driver in 10th; followed by Erik Jones (19th), Martin Truex Jr. (20th) and Denny Hamlin finished 36th after being involved in an incident.
Unpredictability is one of the assets of Talladega that has fans so intrigued by the races, and that might be even more ramped-up without practice leading into the race this Sunday, but the series season wins leader (Hamlin) seems unphased.
“. … We’ve run a different package at superspeedways almost every other year,” said Denny Hamlin following his win in Miami. “We’ll adapt pretty quickly. So, for me there is not really any concerns. … These drivers are so good; they’re going to figure it out pretty quick.”
Hamlin also leads his teammates in average finishing position at Talladega heading into the weekend with a 19.0; followed Busch (20.2), Truex (21.4) and Jones (28.1)