Tune in: Joe Gibbs Racing press conference on Wednesday
RELATED: Click here to bookmark the live-stream link Joe Gibbs Racing will hold two separate news conferences starting at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, from its headquarters in Huntersville, North Carolina. Both press conferences will be live-streamed on NASCAR.com. Check back tomorrow to watch the events and for full coverage.
Carl Edwards steps away from racing ; Daniel Suarez to wheel No. 19
RELATED: NASCAR Nation reacts to Edwards' news " Quotes from day HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Carl Edwards gave three very detailed reasons why he is stepping away from NASCAR competition, only to circle back to the subject later and put it a bit more succinctly. "Life is short," Edwards told a room full of media, sponsor representatives and other assorted team and NASCAR officials Wednesday. "You've got to do what your gut tells you." And Edwards said his gut told him it was time to move on to something else. Edwards, 37, officially announced that he will not compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017, calling a halt to a career that included 28 victories at NASCAR's top level, 10 Chase appearances and two second-place finishes in the series' championship points battle. The 2017 season was to be his third in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, his team since joining JGR in 2015 after an 11-year career at Roush Fenway Racing . Instead, it will be 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Daniel Suarez who will be at the helm of the team's No. 19 entry. Suarez, the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national championship and a product of the sanctioning body's Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next programs, will make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in the season-opening Daytona 500 , scheduled for Feb. 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). MORE: Recap Suarez's title year " Suarez returns home to Mexico a champion Edwards, wearing a dark suit and gray dress shirt as he walked on stage at the organization's headquarters here in Huntersville, didn't entirely rule out a return to racing in some form or fashion, explaining that "If I'm going to get back in a race car, which I'm not saying the R (retirement) word here … I'm calling Coach ( Joe ) Gibbs first. "There is no better race team. There is no faster car than a Toyota Camry. There's no better engine. There's no better crew chief than Dave Rogers. There's no better crew." Why step away when he is seemingly still at the top of his game? He finished fourth in the 2016 points standings and was in the title picture right up until a crash with 12 laps remaining took him out of contention in the series’ final race. WATCH: Edwards takes blame for Miami wreck " Edwards' 2016 in review
Toyota pipeline flows freely with youth, talent
RELATED: First look at new Toyota race car The expeditious elevation of Daniel Suarez into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series last week reinforced the importance of a feeder system for teams hoping to groom young, talented drivers for future endeavors at the top level. "Look around. What would we have done?" Joe Gibbs , founder and owner of Joe Gibbs Racing , said Jan. 10 following two whirlwind announcements at the organization's headquarters in Huntersville, North Carolina. Suarez, the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion and the first Mexican-born driver to win a national series title in NASCAR, was scheduled to return to the XFINITY Series this year to defend his title. But the surprising departure of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Carl Edwards created an unexpected opening within the JGR camp and the organization's No. 19 entry. RELATED: Edwards steps away, Suarez to replace " Full timeline Fortunately for JGR, the 24-year-old Suarez was waiting in the wings. Instead of competing full-time in the XFINITY Series, Suarez will now take over the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series entry vacated by Edwards for 2017. He will also compete in a select number of NXS races. "I think the hard work, working on developing young guys is a big part of this," Gibbs said of organization's XFINITY Series effort. "Thank goodness (Suarez) was there and we had done that." Suarez is one of several drivers in a Toyota pipeline that has become filled with young talent. The automaker, which made its NASCAR debut in 2004 in the Camping World Truck Series, continually seeks to identify gifted drivers from a variety of racing's lower levels, then assist them and their teams as they move through the ranks. Erik Jones will compete full-time in 2017 for Furniture Row Racing as a teammate to Martin Truex Jr . in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after racing for JGR's XFINITY Series program a year ago. RELATED: FRR adds Jones to its growing team Christopher Bell will once again drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series after finishing third in points last year. Although he was sidelined for part of the '16 season following surgery for a brain tumor, Matt Tifft , 20, made 10 XFINITY Series starts for JGR last year as well as 10 NCWTS starts for Red Horse Racing . Ben Rhodes (19) and Cameron Hayley (20) competed last season for ThorSport Racing in the Camping World Truck Series. "Our farm system is going to continue to be something that we invest in," David Wilson, President & General Manager, Toyota Racing Development, USA, told NASCAR.com. "It's validation and it just furthers our resolve that in spite of the inherent risk … the return on that investment is still going to be good and it's going to validate our commitment." Wilson was scheduled to attend this past weekend's Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. The prestigious event, which concluded Saturday night, was won by Bell. MORE: Bell triumphs at Chili Bowl "I want to show them how important it is for them to be representing our brand," Wilson said. With more than two dozen of the 300-plus participants at the Chili Bowl affiliated with Toyota, Wilson said there is "no doubt" that someone from the group "is going to be in an announcement like this that happened (at JGR) five years from now." Having an abundance of talent is a good problem, but it is still a problem, in part because of the limited number of seats/rides available in the various series, according to Ed Laukes, Vice President of Integrated Marketing Operations for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA. "We are always concerned about being overloaded with the young guys as they're coming through the ranks," he said, "because we don't want to have that talent get developed around TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and our guys, and then they end up with another company, with another manufacturer, with another race team." Toyota officials are eager to help identify and work with drivers and teams as they grow, according to Laukes. But ultimately, it's up to owners to continue to invest in their own programs or, as Furniture Row Racing did last year, make the switch to Toyota to further enhance their efforts. Furniture Row made the switch from Chevrolet to Toyota for 2016. The Denver, Colorado-based organization has since added the second team, opening up an opportunity for Jones to move up to the premier series. "That's always going to be the secret sauce in the whole thing," Laukes said. "Because we can't do it as a manufacturer. We're not a team owner, we never have been and we have no plan of being a team owner. … "But it always is a concern. We do a lot of stuff in Late Model, a lot of stuff in Midgets. We’ve been around a lot of those series for a long time." JGR develops and draws talent from more than just the organization's XFINITY Series program. Kyle Busch Motorsports plays a key role in the process as well. Gibbs said Busch, the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion and driver of the team's No. 18 Toyota, "has been very good at analyzing and discovering young talent. "He still races in Late Models and all that kind of stuff," Gibbs said. "I talk to him a lot and say, 'Hey, who do you see?' Or ask him an opinion. I've asked him for his opinion on Daniel, on Erik. And he’s normally pretty much spot-on. He's really good, I think, at evaluating drivers." While Busch has been criticized by some for competing in, and often dominating, races in other series, running those events has allowed him to evaluate his KBM equipment as well as the younger drivers. "For us, when we put somebody in his trucks, we pretty much know they're going to be in the best stuff," Gibbs said. "Now, it's up to them. And if they can't get it done with Kyle, then odds are there's something wrong. … "Hopefully that's the way it is with our XFINITY program. We know (we have) the best crew chiefs, best motor, best car. If they can't get to the front with that, then odds are … that's what you're evaluating. We're all looking for that special driver." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
JR Motorsports ramps up with 2017 expansion
RELATED: Driver Tracker " On the move: Changes in store for 2017 The encore for an organization that placed both of its full-time drivers into the Championship 4 field in the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase last year has the chance to be even greater. JR Motorsports has that unique possibility, an opportunity granted by not sitting still. Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier return to the fold after prosperous debut years with the team, but that's where the offseason status quo ends. JRM plans a full-court press for the upcoming XFINITY season, expanding from two to four full-time drivers in an all-out push to bring home the championship it barely missed out on in 2017. "To have that opportunity to go up against three teammates, to see the growth in our shop, to see the growth in our teams, it's really, really fun to watch," Allgaier said. "I feel like if you came back here next year and said we'd have four cars from JR Motorsports in the final four, it wouldn't surprise me at all." A four-car sweep for the Homestead-Miami finale in November would mean stellar introductions by the two newest faces in the JRM stable: up-and-coming teenager William Byron, a NASCAR Next alum, and 30-year-old vet Michael Annett , back in XFINITY after a three-year stint in NASCAR's top division. The addition of Byron, a 19-year-old prospect in the Hendrick Motorsports system, actually counts as a reunion. The Liberty University student was a former driver for JRM's Late Model program on the weekly and touring level. His teammates have already seen what he can do in top-level equipment. Byron won seven times in his rookie NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, with only a crucial engine failure in 2016's penultimate race keeping him from the championship fight. It's the reason Sadler has touted him as "a star of the future" and why Allgaier echoed the thought, calling Byron "an absolute class act and an amazing talent." Kelley Earnhardt Miller -- who co-owns JRM with her brother, Dale Earnhardt Jr . -- spoke with tones of regret in describing how Byron got away in late 2015, snapped up by Kyle Busch Motorsports and seemingly earmarked for an upward career arc in the Toyota pipeline. That changed last August when team owner Rick Hendrick brought him back into the Chevrolet camp, cognizant of the creeping advancement in age of his Monster Energy Cup Series roster. "For that to all come back full circle, we're real excited about it," Earnhardt Miller told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio last month. "He's just a great kid and a good family, and his story is just so cool -- doing the computer racing [on iRacing] and then telling his dad he wants to race and then not racing until he was 15. It's just a good story. But Mr. Hendrick deserves the credit there, trying to look at his next moves because he's going to have some drivers that are on the retirement horizon in the next several years, so smart move for him to make all that happen." Said Byron: "I just remember their ultimate goal for me when I started racing Late Models was so I could race an XFINITY car there. In a weird way, I got back to that and it's going to be really cool to return next year." To accommodate the escalated XFINITY Series growth, which Earnhardt Miller said has maxed out the team's resources, JR Motorsports has closed its truck series operation. Cole Custer , who drove the JRM No. 00 truck the last two seasons, has since moved on to Stewart-Haas Racing 's XFINITY program. As in past years, JR Motorsports plans to run an extra XFINITY entry in select races with Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers Earnhardt and Kasey Kahne behind the wheel for two races each. But at the heart of its growth are the core four XFINITY regulars, a direction chosen in light of new driver participation guidelines that go into effect in 2017. The continuity will keep JRM from scrambling to shuffle its roster once the Chase playoff begins and the limits on Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers moonlighting in the XFINITY ranks become more stringent. But the organization will still need to make inroads against stout competition, especially Joe Gibbs Racing , which won 19 of the 33 XFINITY races last season and took the other two spots in the four-driver championship round. Reminded of the heady assignment a day after last season's finale, Allgaier was unwavering. "Even with the Gibbs guys," Allgaier said. "I don't know, I just feel like with the packages that we've seen of what's a possibility for the XFINITY Series next year, the work that we're doing at the shop and the cars and just all the things that we've been working on, I really think next year's an opportunity for us at JR Motorsports."
Cain: Joe Gibbs Racing Chase strategy may change at Texas
FORT WORTH -- We get the concept. It's the embrace that feels a little tricky. After the race at Talladega Superspeedway two weeks ago, Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Carl Edwards , Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch emerged from their Toyotas feeling "good" about a mid-pack bumper-to-bumper-to-bumper finish that neither helped nor hurt their points standings to advance in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. It was a well-executed survival gamble. Their JGR teammate, Denny Hamlin , however, was left on his own to race his heart out at NASCAR's biggest track in hopes of earning a spot into the Chase's Round of 8. He did, but only by virtue of besting a tiebreaker thanks to his third-place finish. Last week, the JGR train used a similar format, sticking together nose-to-tail at Martinsville Speedway -- NASCAR's smallest track -- and finishing third through fifth. In both instances, during post-race interviews on pit road -- depending on which JGR driver you were talking to -- they were up to code on praising team orders. But their facial expressions perhaps revealed a little something else. Granted, at Talladega, it's as nerve-wracking to run at the rear of the field as it is to get into the winner's mix. So it was as much a gamble to run together far away from the front as it was to navigate forward. At Martinsville, there appeared to be potential for a different scenario than the Gibbs freight train, but again it successfully took the checkered flag in title contention. The Gibbs team didn't win at either venue, however. So, now that strategy of playing it safe and bonding together has also fundamentally altered the title hopes of at least one member of the four-car JGR contingent, as three championship bids now remain open. Four drivers move forward to decide the trophy at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Sunday's winner at Martinsville, six-time champ Jimmie Johnson , has earned one of those positions. RELATED: JGR denied in quest for Championship 4 sweep Three JGR cars -- Hamlin, Kenseth and Busch -- are ranked second to fourth in the standings. Edwards finished 36th at Martinsville, suffering from a tire problem, and will essentially need to win at Texas this week or at Phoenix next week to earn a championship chance. It will be an interesting subplot to see how JGR strategizes as the series heads to the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Will it continue to expect its four drivers to team up, or will this virtual team restrictor plate come off? Credit goes to the four for so obediently following team orders and thinking about the good of the whole versus the glory of the individual. But playing it safe only goes so far now. All the teammates enthusiastically praised the way they ran at Talladega, even Hamlin who was essentially left to fend for himself. However, Sunday at Martinsville, it appeared that the strategy was wearing a little thinner. Hamlin again led JGR's third-through-fifth place contingent, followed by Kenseth and Busch. And it didn't take a certified psychologist to dissect the post-race vibe. Certainly, reigning Cup champion Busch let on that the team's strategy was perhaps a bit troublesome at Martinsville -- even if he wouldn't just come right out and declare that it's time for every man to fend for himself. "You can't wreck each other and that's all there is to it I guess," Busch said. "We worked so good together that we gave the 48 ( Jimmie Johnson ) car the win today. "That's how good JGR is." There have been arguments made that the JGR pack racing "works" at Talladega because of the nature of restrictor plate pack racing . And obviously, it was effective -- even if if didn't result in a win -- at Martinsville last week. But the Texas high banks present different challenges. And as the opportunity to secure a championship bid diminishes with each race, the JGR drivers may understandably feel more selfish in their pursuit. "I don't think it changes a whole lot, honestly," Hamlin said. "I think that we each still have a shot, there's just one spot taken, so three of us would still be a good number to get in that final group and we'll do everything we can to get that done." It may well be the ultimate Texas Two-Step and it's just a question of who will dance.
Vote for Kenseth/Ratcliff, '16? Joe Gibbs Racing offers options
Hey you -- feeling any anxiety about casting your vote in the 2016 presidential election? Not sure which direction to go? Don't fret, people of America. Joe Gibbs Racing is here to offer the undecided voter some new options just in time for Tuesday's big decision. In case you need some write-in options for #ElectionDay ... we have some suggestions #TheChase pic.twitter.com/33QXwppC3a — Jess Rohlik (@JessicaLRohlik) November 8, 2016 We're NASCAR.com and we approve this message.
Joe Gibbs Racing enjoying the view from the top
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Championships are nothing new for Joe Gibbs Racing . The organization won three premier series titles during a six-year stretch with drivers Bobby Labonte (2000) and Tony Stewart (2002, '05). But domination? Now, that's something different. "It's one of those deals where you pinch yourself to try and find out if it's real," said Jimmy Makar, Senior Vice President of Racing Operations for the four-team outfit on Tuesday. Makar, along with driver Kyle Busch and other team principals, was on hand at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to unveil the No. 18 team's throwback paint scheme for this year's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The look harkens back to 1993, when driver Dale Jarrett earned the organization its first win with a victory in the Daytona 500 . But while the focus was on the past, the present couldn't be ignored. JGR folks tread lightly around the subject. But the numbers say what officials won't -- that since the midpoint of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season, no organization has been as consistent or as successful as Joe Gibbs Racing . The four-team effort with drivers Busch, Denny Hamlin , Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth won 11 of the final 21 races of the '15 season, a year that ended with Busch claiming the championship. Through this year's first 12 races, those drivers already have won seven times, including six of the last seven. As a result, all four drivers are all but guaranteed a spot in this year's 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup . It's no overnight success story, Busch said, noting that the organization didn't sit idle in early 2013 while engine supplier Toyota Racing Development (TRD) sorted though various engine issues. "We worked on our cars, we worked on our setups, we worked on driver-crew chief communications," he said. "We worked on all that stuff to get our cars better. And when the engines came, then it was all there. We had the total package. "I feel like we've been able to take advantage of all that the last couple of years, of having all the right pieces in place." The 2013 season was the first that TRD began supplying engines to JGR teams. That was also when Kenseth came on board, winning seven times during his debut season in the No. 20 Toyota. Edwards won twice in '15 after the Mooresville, N.C.-based organization expanded to four teams with the addition of the No. 19 entry. For the better part of the past decade, it has been Hendrick Motorsports setting the standard among NASCAR's competitors. So it's not surprising that both Makar and Busch referenced HMS on Tuesday when talk of domination surfaced. "You think about their runs that they have had over the years and how we've always tried to get like that," Makar said. "Here we find ourselves in not exactly the same position but something where we seem to be on top of our game right now and people chasing us. It's kind of fun." Busch was a part of the HMS program while it was the leader of the pack, earning the first four of his 37 career victories with Hendrick. "This sport goes in cycles," Busch said. "Hendrick was on top for a long, long time. I don't want to hear about complaining that we're on top and dominating and bad for the sport because I remember years that Hendrick won 12, 13, 14 races, whatever it was. And they won seven out of eight championships or something like that." Having top-shelf parts and pieces and some of the most talented drivers isn't always a recipe for success. The difference today at JGR, it seems, is the willingness among the four teams to share information as well as opinions. Each driver has a distinct personality, from fiery to subdued, as well as a different approach to racing . "But the thing of it is, they work so well together," Makar said. "That's the one common thing that we've got going on -- they share information with each other, they don't hide things. "The crew chiefs do the same thing. We try to emphasize that. Sometimes you can talk about it all day long but if the guys don't want to do it, it doesn't work." How long will it last? How long can it last? "You always think about, when you're on top, what's it going to take to stay there," Makar said. "It's the hardest thing in the world to stay on top once you get there. Everybody's working even harder to try and beat you. You have to make sure you don't get any sense of overconfidence and quit pushing the limits … that's the only thing you worry about, is if complacency sets in. "Other than that, it's what more can we find? How can we get faster and better, make our cars better and compete better? That's what we do every day … whether you're running 10th every week or first. The whole goal is to get better as a team. Make our race teams better from the inside and keep trying to push ourselves to be better." Gibbs , a Super Bowl-winning coach as well as a championship-winning car owner, perhaps understands the pitfalls better than most. That, and the drive to be on top. "If you get to thinking you're pretty good, that goes against you," he said. "It takes hard work. The other teams are looking at you and they're coming. … There are so many cars that are strong right now." Kenseth's win at Dover on Sunday, he said, was a perfect example of the level of competition. An exciting battle between the veteran and youngster Kyle Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing ) left the final outcome in question in the final laps. "It came down at the end there, we're (side-by-side) with the 42. Who's going to win? The 42 or us?" Gibbs said. "I do think that's what is exciting about our sport. People love that. It's the greatest reality show in the world because we don't know what’s going to happen." Busch doesn't know what the summer months will bring, but he's confident that the JGR group "is the strongest one." "I say that because I think Toyota is the best manufacturer in the sport," he said. "I feel like all four drivers are probably among the best six or seven drivers in the sport, and we're all on the same team working together. … You've got Joe , who is one of the best bosses in the sport, who pushes all of us, is a real people guy and he knows about putting the right people in the right places. "Then too, the things that we all do to work together, not hide anything, share anything we possibly can." These days, that includes trips to Victory Lane. Editor's note : Table shows victories by organization from the 2015 Coca-Cola 600 through Sunday's AAA 400 (does not include non-points events).
Joe Gibbs Racing
Joe Gibbs Racing history, full crews of Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch
Stewart-Haas, Joe Gibbs Racing secure fourth Charters
RELATED: Who has the 36 Charters? " Fast facts about charters DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Stewart-Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing have each obtained an additional Charter for their respective teams, a move that will guarantee NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kurt Busch (SHR) and Carl Edwards (JGR) a starting spot in all 36 points races each week. Officials with both teams made the announcements separately via social media (Twitter) Saturday afternoon. Securing the Charters was expected. Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman said earlier this week that Charters awarded to his organization, which ceased operations at the conclusion of the 2015 season, would likely be purchased by the Stewart-Haas and Joe Gibbs organizations. No purchase price was announced. NASCAR unveiled the new system Feb. 9, announcing a nine-year arrangement that not only will assure Charter teams a starting spot in the field but there will also be financial benefits generated by the move. Based on criteria developed by NASCAR and with input from the industry, Charters were awarded to 36 teams, each of which had attempted to qualify for all races since the start of the 2013 season. It was also announced that beginning this season Sprint Cup Series fields would feature 40 cars rather than 43 as had previously been the case. As a result, there will be four remaining positions in the field each week to be filled by Open (non-Charter) teams. Those will be determined as they have been in previous years, based on qualifying speeds. SHR was awarded three Charters for its Nos. 4, 10 and 14 teams; the No. 41 team did not debut until 2014. Likewise JGR was awarded three Charters for its Nos. 11, 18 and 20 teams, and sought a fourth for the No. 19, which debuted with Edwards last season. Charters may be sold or leased (a one-time transfer), with NASCAR approval, and HScott Motorsports owner Harry Scott opted for the latter in order to obtain a Charter for his No. 46 team with driver Michael Annett . Scott announced Friday that he had reached an agreement with Premium Motorsports owner Jay Robinson for use of that team's Charter for the 2016 season. HScott, a two-team organization, was awarded one Charter, assigned to the No. 15 team of Clint Bowyer , meaning Annett would have to qualify for all races this season. Premium Motorsports will continue to field a Sprint Cup entry. Cole Whitt will attempt to qualify the team's No. 98 Toyota in the field for next week’s season-opening Daytona 500
Joe Gibbs Racing set to honor longtime driver Tony Stewart
RELATED: 'Smoke' through the years Three-time NASCAR premier series champion Tony Stewart is set to retire from full-time Sprint Cup Series competition following the 2016 season, and -- much like we saw last year with Jeff Gordon -- the tributes will be coming fast and furiously over the next 10 months. Joe Gibbs Racing , where Stewart spent the first decade of his career, picked up 33 of his 48 career wins and the first two of his titles, kicked off the stroll down memory lane Wednesday with their first in a series of tributes that will run on the 20th of each month through the 2016 season. On the 20th of every month we'll pay tribute to our friend @TonyStewart who is retiring after 2016. #TonyTribute20 pic.twitter.com/3B6AiwGSMt — Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) January 20, 2016 In 1999, as a rookie in our 20 car, @TonyStewart won his 1st Cup Series race at Richmond! #NASCAR #TonyTribute20 pic.twitter.com/qJ0zbPwYiS — Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) January 20, 2016