Joe Gibbs Racing entered the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a little less fanfare than its Team Penske and Hendrick Motorsports counterparts.
And rightfully so. Drivers from Team Penske and HMS won eight of the last 10 regular season races, while JGR hasn’t seen Victory Lane since Denny Hamlin captured the checkered flag at Talladega in May.
JGR might garner some more hype very soon though. Heading into the GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET on ESPN) the Chase cutoff race at Talladega, the organization has a great shot of advancing all three of its drivers into the Chase’s Eliminator Round:
Kyle Busch – Busch ranks second in the points standings, 25 points above the cutoff line, after placing third at Kansas and fifth at Charlotte. Regardless of the performance of other drivers, Busch can advance at Talladega by finishing 24th or better, 25th with at least one lap led, or 26th with the most laps led. In 19 starts at Talladega Busch boasts one win, four top-five and two top-10 showings.
Denny Hamlin – Hamlin occupies the seventh spot on the Chase Grid, 16 points ahead of the cutoff line, following top-10 outputs in the first two Contender Round races. He can control his Eliminator Round destiny by posting finishes of 15th or better, 16th with at least one lap led, or 17th with the most laps led. In addition to his spring victory, the No. 11 FedEx driver claims four top-five and six top-10 finishes at Talladega.
Matt Kenseth – At ninth on the Chase Grid, Kenseth trails Kasey Kahne by just one point for the final spot in the Eliminator Round. He only controls his own destiny by winning at Talladega, but can easily make up ground if Kahne or anyone else in front of him falters. Kenseth boasts the series’ best driver rating (90.9) among active competitors with more than one start at the 2.66-mile track.