Daytona Beach, Fla – Outside of Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing has been the team to beat in Daytona Speedweeks recently. Despite just one Daytona 500 victory since Dale Jarrett went to victory lane in the season opening race in 1993 (Denny Hamlin won a year ago), JGR has dominated the other preliminary events during Speedweeks.
Since 2012, JGR has won an astounding nine times during Speedweeks, eight of which occurring in the Can-Am Duels and The Clash combined. In fact, it’s almost a preconceived notion now that a JGR car will win The Clash each year (8 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN).
JGR, has won four of the last five Clashes at Daytona including three straight.
Kyle Busch took his No. 18 Toyota to victory lane in the Clash in 2012, then Denny Hamlin won the race in 2014. Matt Kenseth won in 2015 before Hamlin won again last year.
Now, all three with take their turn again on Saturday night at the Daytona International Speedway as will rookie Daniel Suarez who will race for the recent retired Carl Edwards. With how things have gone for them in this race over the last five years, I wouldn’t be against them this weekend.
There’s also only going to be 17 cars in the race this weekend, and four of which will belong to JGR. So, the numbers are already on their side. Mix in four wins in five years, and I think we may be a fifth trip to victory lane for Joe Gibbs under the lights at the high banked 2.5-mile oval.
Toyota took four cars in the top five of last year’s Daytona 500, so it’s safe to assume that JGR will be the ones to beat in the season opening race this weekend.