Monday, November 20, 2017
Sports

Joe Gibbs Racing looks unstoppable in Sprint Cup

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — At the season-opening Daytona 500, Joe Gibbs Racing proved it was unquestionably the fastest, from Denny Hamlin taking the checkered flag to its quartet of cars leading more than three-quarters of the race.

It turned out to be a harbinger of things to come.

After watching Kyle Busch drive away from Kevin Harvick to win Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway, Gibbs drivers have won six times in the first 11 races. Everybody on the team has a win except Matt Kenseth, and the former series champion finished a season-best fourth at Kansas.

"The hardest thing in pro sports is to stay up there every week and right now it's been a thrill," Gibbs said after celebrating Busch's first Sprint Cup win at a track that had caused him so much trouble.

"In a sport where we have so many great teams, so many great owners — it's so competitive, it's so hard to get on a hot streak," Gibbs said. "I appreciate how nice it is to reel off several wins like this."

In fact, things have been so good for Gibbs that Martin Truex, whose Furniture Row team has a technical alliance with JGR, might have been the fastest car at Kansas. If it wasn't for a fluke tire-change issue, he might have been the one celebrating the end of his misfortune there.

That was just about the only lament Gibbs had on Saturday.

"The Gibbs cars are better than everybody pretty much everywhere," said Brad Keselowski, who has won at Las Vegas and Talladega in 2016 for Penske Racing. "I think that's pretty obvious."

Gibbs knows something about dominance, of course. He led the Washington Redskins to three Super Bowl victories in 10 playoff appearances during his 16-year NFL coaching career.

This feels like uncharted territory, though.

Busch has led a season-high 679 laps while winning three times and two-time winner Carl Edwards has led the second most laps at 626. Hamlin won the Sprint Unlimited before his Daytona 500 victory.

The fact that Busch finally won at Kansas may be the best proof yet of JGR's supremacy.

The reigning Sprint Cup champion has had years of disappointment at the 1-1/2 mile track, even joking at one point that it nearly pushed him to retirement.

"There's certainly been some tough roads along the way at Kansas, but it's nice to win this one," Busch said after winning the Gobowling 400. "I wouldn't call it a dream come true, but there's been some horror dreams here, that's for sure. It's nice to have that monkey off your back."

The victory leaves Pocono and Charlotte as the only two tracks on the current schedule where Busch has yet to win a Sprint Cup race. He'll get his chance at both over the next month.

If he's not the favorite, there's a good chance one of his teammates will be.

"It's a total team effort, I say that all the time, but we got everybody back at the shop working on the cars — it takes all of us to do this," Gibbs said. "Then to have Kyle as hot as he is right now … has been a thrill."

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