Joe Gibbs Racing dominance matter of out-snookering competition
Joe Gibbs Racing has dominated NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition in 2016. In the 22 races, so far, the four-car JGR juggernaut has 10 wins, two from reigning series champion Kyle Busch and two each from Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth.
JGR haters and fans of other race teams, often, have been pointing at a perceived engine or aerodynamic advantage for Toyota. I don’t think that’s either. Maybe Toyota Racing Development and JGR have upon something in the engine department, but I’m thinking there’s something else at play, here, leading to the dominance.
Simply put, I think Joe Gibbs Racing in simply, out-snookering the competition and maybe NASCAR, too. Think about it; each time NASCAR has implemented a new rule this season with the intent of re-taking away downforce teams have gotten back through innovation around the existing rules or implemented new rules that have slowed teams down somehow, JGR has been the first team to try things NASCAR eventually implements rules against. The folks at Joe Gibbs Racing haven’t necessarily been the rule breakers this season, but it seems they’ve definitely been the rule-makers, so-to-speak.
Early this season, there was an uproar about teams taking advantage of NASCAR not mandating five tight lug nuts on each wheel. Before NASCAR went back to requiring five tight lug nuts, which team was the first to get its cars off pit road first by only tightening four lug nuts? Answer: Joe Gibbs Racing. Then, other teams followed suit.
Later, NASCAR changed the aero rules, cutting down on the number of fans teams could run for various perceived reasons, because in reality, some of these fans were increasing downforce. The first team to seemingly take advantage of increased downforce via fan? Answer: Joe Gibbs Racing. Then, other teams followed suit.
That kind of makes me wonder about the windshield wipers the JGR cars ran during the Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International on Sunday. Only Toyota raced with windshield wipers on its cars. Any team that wanted could’ve run that race with wipers, but no other manufacturer’s cars carried them on Sunday. Why would JGR? The chances of rain during that race was next to zero. Did those wipers provide some kind of aero advantage? In my simple mind, I wouldn’t think so. But I’m by no means an expert, and I’m not going to pretend to be. Maybe the innovators at JGR found some kind of advantage by putting them on their cars. I’m guessing if other teams figure it out, they’ll follow suit.
I don’t blame JGR for taking advantage of advantages discovered by its personnel. Maybe fan frustration shouldn’t take the form of distaste for Joe Gibbs Racing. Instead, maybe it should take the form of disappointment in favorite teams falling behind the proverbial 8-ball and being behind JGR’s brain trust when it comes to innovation and discovering new advantages.