The last two years, Joe Gibbs Racing has by far been the class of the NASCAR field. For some reason though, 2017 hasn’t been kind to them at all. We’re seven races into the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, and six different teams have already won a race this year. Unfortunately for JGR, they’re not one of them.
JGR drivers currently sit seventh (Kyle Busch), 16th (Denny Hamlin), 22nd (Matt Kenseth) and 23rd (Daniel Suarez) in the Cup standings. Only Busch is up there in lap leaders are he’s second overall with 416 laps led. None of the other three have led much, if at all.
25 different drivers have led a lap this season but Kenseth and Suarez aren’t one of them. Kenseth, hasn’t led since Phoenix of last year, and Suarez has never led a lap in Cup competition. Hamlin, led only four circuits at Fontana and 24 more at Martinsville. That’s it.
Busch, has 416 laps led while the other three have 28 combined.
Neither Suarez nor Kenseth have been much of contenders this year either with Suarez having finishes of 29th, 21st, 20th, seventh, seventh, 32nd and 19th respectively, and Kenseth with finishes of 40th, third, ninth, 37th, 36th, ninth and 16th.
Hamlin, he too has struggled, with having finishes of 17th, 38th, sixth, 10th, 14th, 30th and 25th respectively in 2017 as well.
Busch, he’s the only one that has contended with having finishes of 38th, 16th, 22nd, third, eighth, second and 15th respectively, but that 22nd place effort at Vegas would have been a top five if not for a last lap, last turn incident with Joey Logano. He’s carrying the banner so far for JGR.
So, with all four not finishing in the top 10 at Texas in the last race, can they turn it around this weekend at the Bristol Motor Speedway? Odds are, it’s not going to happen this weekend.
Busch, typically has been strong at Bristol over the years, but he’s struggled lately. He did lead 256 laps in the Summer race a year ago, but he crashed out and finished 39th. In the Spring race last season, he came home 38th. Furthermore, since the start of the 2013 Cup season, Busch has just two top 10’s in seven Bristol starts. On top of that, Busch has finished 29th or worse in four of those seven races.
Kenseth, has been the exact same way. Since he joined JGR for the 2013 season and beyond, he’s won twice and finished third at Bristol. But, his other five finishes there are 13th, 35th, 36th, 37th and 42nd.
Hamlin too has struggled with just three top 10’s in that same time frame, but his finishes other than those three solid results are 20th, 23rd, 26th, 28th and 40th.
Suarez, has never made a Cup start at Bristol, so he will be a rookie this weekend there.
With all those stats being thrown at you, would you bet on JGR to end their slump this weekend? I didn’t think so.