Until Talladega, it looked like the Gibbs Racing, Sprint Cup story could be titled, "Penalties and Blown Engines." The No. 18 team’s great season was blowing up all over tracks from New Hampshire to Kansas.
Kyle Busch’s cautions about the car fell on a deaf pit crew. Denny Hamlin also covered Dover in oil when he blew, and Tony Stewart’s ride was not without its problems.
But when the cars held together, all three members racked up the penalties. Yet, at Talladega where the cars seemed magnetically drawn to each other out the crashes, Gibbs Racing came to life, Stewart got his first win and Busch was in the top 20.
Coming off the momentum of Talladega, Gibbs Racing brought three strong cars to Charlotte. Nevertheless, Busch and Stewart lost their track positions because they didn’t drive smart, again I am talking about penalties.
Coming into pit row too soon and speeding on the way out has been the Gibbs Racing signature move in this Cup series. With that aside, Charlotte was a good showing for all three teams of Gibbs Racing. Has the Gibbs racing crews finally found their groves?
Kyle Busch No.18 Finish: 4th Start: 11th
Kyle Busch was pretty in pink with a nice fourth place finish. Kyle immediately demanded his spot in the top five at Charlotte. The No. 18 team was well-organized and quick at pitting.
A little over halfway through the race at Lap 177, Kyle reported being tight—a problem that was swiftly addressed. It looked like Kyle was in position to have a shot at the win, but on Lap 260, he was caught speeding out of pit row.
After the pass through penalty, Kyle’s talent of dispatching with lap traffic put him back into the top five. However, the finish was tainted with the question of whether or not he actually got the penalty.
Tony Stewart No.20 Finish: 11th Start: 7th
Tony Stewart’s raw hunger for another win rolled over the seven cars in front of him to take the lead by Lap 32. Tony would only fall from the lead for pitting too quickly to regain it.
His energy seemed unstoppable until his car came loose on Lap 111. But the No. 20 team was able to make the proper adjustments, and Tony was back in the lead until he flushed it away by speeding out of pit row with teammate Kyle Busch. But unlike Kyle, Tony wasn’t able to regain his track position.
Denny Hamlin No.11 Finish: 16th Start: 12th
Denny Hamlin was a victim of lap traffic at Charlotte. Early in the race, Denny was unable to brake into the top-10 as he was caught behind lap traffic going two wide.
He fought his way up to 13th only to come loose and be sent into the wall on turn two, courtesy of Clint Bowyer in Lap 232.
The wall gave it hard to Denny’s right rear. The No. 11 team wouldn’t allow Charlotte to have the last word and made quick work of putting the car back on the track. Denny dug in and responded to his team’s hard work by bringing home an acceptable finish for them.
As the Chase enters the halfway mark, are the Gibbs racing teams heating up.
Thus far, the Kyle Busch of races past hasn’t been seen at the Chase; Tony Stewart, on the other hand, seemed to save it all for the Chase—he truly has become electrifying to watch, and Denny Hamlin hasn’t been able to find the consistency he had in the race for the Chase.
Martinsville will show if the Gibbs’ boys have arrived at the Chase or not.