Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Darlington Raceway was indicative of the season Joe Gibbs Racing is having.
All four JGR entries finished in the top five with Kyle Busch winning and posting his 16th perfect driver rating in the series. It was Busch’s first perfect rating at Darlington and his first since the August 2011 Bristol race.
JGR drivers Elliott Sadler (second), Brian Vickers (third) and Matt Kenseth (fifth) joined Busch in the top five. Three of the team’s four cars are firmly ensconced inside the top 10 in owner points. The No. 54, which Busch has driven to five wins, leads the owner points. The No. 11, driven by Sadler, is fifth, while Vickers’ No 20 is eighth.
The reason for JGR’s success in the NSCS and NNS is due in large part to how the organization approaches the latter.
“It pays off in Nationwide. That’s kind of our training ground for our guys to move up to Cup,” said J.D. Gibbs, team president for JGR. “We have guys that work hard, long hours. They enjoy it. They enjoy winning races, too … It’s the best training ground we could ever have.”
This season, the team has incorporated a nice blend of full-time NNS talent (Sadler and Vickers) with two drivers competing in the NSCS (Busch and Kenseth). The strength and quality of the personnel (drivers, crew chiefs, crew members) found throughout the organization are why they’ve found success at all levels.
Case in point: Adam Stevens. Over the past two seasons no driver or crew chief has more victories than Stevens, who has been atop the war wagon for all five of Busch’s NNS victories this season. Last year, Stevens called the shots for former JGR driver Joey Logano, who visited Victory Lane nine times with the crew chief.
Because of his success, it’s reasonable to assume that great things lie in store for Stevens, proving the formidability of JGR’s training ground and “bench.