Drivers Beware: Joe Gibbs Racing May Be Near

Kelly CrandallSenior Writer IFebruary 3, 2009

Tony Stewart has been called every name in the book. Denny Hamlin might have many personalities. Kyle Busch became the most hated man in the NASCAR world in a matter of seconds. Joey Logano has even shown he can be a little short tempered.

And last week team owner Joe Gibbs showed he has just as much fire in him as his drivers, or in Stewart's case, former driver. Maybe he's the one who taught them to drive, or vice versa. Either way it runs in the company.

For those of you who don't know, Gibbs was racing a friend in a mock race when he drove the car into the corner too hard and flipped his friends car. Which just more clearly showed what the Joe Gibbs mentality is as clear as the road signs we see each day.

So what's the problem?

Well, there really is no problem unless your a fellow driver on the track with these guys. Or if your an anti-Joe Gibbs Racing or Tony Stewart fan, then you have problems. These drivers and owner are the new sheriffs in town and they're kicking ass and taking names.

If your a JGR fan or Stewart follower you probably enjoyed when they made the Nationwide Series their own personal playground. Or when Kyle Busch dominated the Cup Series to an almost title.

Other drivers proceed with caution: you're in JGR's territory.

Stewart has mixed it up with the best of them. Both on and off the track. From getting into a shouting match with Jeff Gordon to bumping and banging with Jimmie Johnson at Daytona. He's played tag with Matt Kenseth at 190 mph and has openly criticized people on national television.

He drivers his car as hard as he drives his mouth and sometimes his fist as he displayed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2002. However, he still goes out and wins and for that he's unapologetic.

The same way Denny Hamlin was after he intentionally stopped on the track at Richmond in May.

Beware of stopped traffic ahead.

Hamlin is another hard nose racer who can be eerily quiet and strategic on the track until it's time to strike.

But Hamlin has also ruffled some feathers.

In May at the Lowe's Motor Speedway while racing in a Nationwide Series race, he got up close and personal with Brad Keselowski and his team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hamlin said he didn't appreciate the way Keselowski was racing him-the way he gets paid to do, by racing hard-and so under caution Hamlin tore the left front fender off the No.88 car.

Once the race was completed Hamlin said the Nationwide guys should move over for the Cup drivers. "You throw a rock, I'm going to throw a concrete block back," he said. Witnesses later said that while in the media center Hamlin openly belittled and was snotty about Keselowski—while he sat right next to him.

However, these two drivers pale in comparison to their teammate Kyle Busch and what he did in 2008.

Drivers: report wreckless driving, call #####.

We all know about the performance year he had across NASCAR's top three series but he also accomplished upsetting someone in each of those series.

Ron Hornaday, Kevin Harvick and Johnny Benson in the Truck Series after spinning these drivers out during different events. He managed to upset the entire field in a Nationwide race when he led them down to slow restarts and they crashed behind him.

And in the Cup Series, wreck Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Richmondy, said Jeff Gordon raced him too hard at Lowe's, engaged in bumper cars with Juan Pablo Montoya at New Hampshire and cried foul on Carl Edwards in Bristol. Busch rattled people all year with his hard nose and hard bumper racing.

The same thing that Joey Logano has begun to learn.

Logano will take over for Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in 2009 and he has already begun to fill his shoes. He knocked Brad Keselowski out of the lead at a Milawukee Nationwide Series race and everyone is still talking about the move he pulled in the Toyota All-Star showdown.

Beware: uneven road ahead.

Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing are proven winners: Stewart won 33 races and two championships while at JGR, Hamlin has four career wins and has finished a career high third in points which came in 2006, Busch won eight races last season (he has 12 career wins) and was a virtual lock for the 2008 Sprint Cup Championship and Joey Logano has won in everything that he's sat in, winning a Nationwide Series race last year and will now get to challenge the big boys.

Provisional drivers keep to the right lane.

They contend for wins, every week, they challenge for championships, every year. They represent their sponsors well and keep their fans satisfied. And given the chance they would probably be everyone's pick when starting their own team.

And they obviously have no problem being the center of controversy: do we really need to relive magnet gate? Nor are they afraid of making things happen. But there's nothing and no one that can do anything about it. Except go out and keep them from winning.

Until that happens though, drivers and fans beware: Joe Gibbs Racing enter the track ahead.