NASCAR.com sits down with the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship car owner, Joe Gibbs , to talk about Kyle Busch’s amazing comeback from injury to help Joe Gibbs Racing earn his fourth NSCS title.
Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch announced a multi-year contract extension with Mars, Inc. on Tuesday. The company brands include M&M's, Snickers, Double Mint and Pedigree, all of which have adorned the No. 18 JGR Toyota on multiple occasions since the partnership formed in 2008. "Representing Mars, Inc.'s family of brands on the No. 18 since 2008 has been an honor, and knowing they are committed to JGR for the next several seasons is awesome," Busch said. "Their support for me, my family and everyone at JGR has been incredible and this energizes me to work even harder for them and the team." "When working with a partner, collaboration, teamwork and a burning desire to win inspires us as a team, and Mars is the epitome of those qualities," team owner Joe Gibbs said. "Their brands have been a big part of our sport and team for a long time and we’re honored to carry them on the No. 18 for the foreseeable future." With four wins under his belt this season and a Championship 4 slot, Kyle Busch will vie for his first Sprint Cup Series championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway .
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Team owner Joe Gibbs said Thursday that he is looking forward to having driver Matt Kenseth back at the race track this weekend as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season comes to an end. NASCAR suspended Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR premier series champion, for two races after he intentionally took out Team Penske driver Joey Logano during a race Nov. 1 at Martinsville Speedway . Kenseth had crashed after contact from Logano two weeks earlier at Kansas Speedway . Each incident effectively ended the Chase hopes for the two drivers. "It's great having Matt back in there because it's almost like you're missing part of the family when somebody -- (when) one of our drivers is not there," Gibbs said during Championship 4 media day activities here. " … Having him back, yeah, we've talked about that, and he just kind of shared some things with me, and then I shared some things with him. It's the kind of things between the two of us, but I think he felt like the meeting was very beneficial, and I know I felt the same way." Kenseth is one of four Sprint Cup Series drivers competing for JGR, along with Kyle Busch , Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards . All four made this year's 16-team Chase field. Only Busch has made it into the final round of four. In addition to the two-race suspension, NASCAR officials also placed Kenseth on probation for six months, a move that was ultimately reduced to Dec. 31, 2015 upon final appeal. Kenseth met with NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France earlier this week, and Gibbs also met with France separately. Gibbs said he has spoken by phone with Roger Penske, owner of the Logano and Keselowski entries. The Martinsville incident was a product of something that "started weeks before,' Gibbs said when asked if he approved of Kenseth's actions. "To be truthful, I don't tell drivers about their relationship with other drivers and kind of what happens on the race track. I'll leave that up to them. But I think in this case I kind of stated what I felt before, and I'm going to leave that there." "I think there are certain things that have happened in the past where you would say, ‘hey, this is definitely wrong.' I know I have with drivers, and said, ‘look, this is not something we're all about,' and we have all those kinds of discussions. You go through some tough things. "And then there are other times that you kind of feel like, 'hey, it's our responsibility, we're a team, and we're going to stand up for each other.'" NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Erik Jones handled the driving duties for the No. 20 team during Kenseth's absence, finishing 12th at Texas and 19th at Phoenix.
Denny Hamlin , driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing , had successful surgery on his right knee this afternoon. Hamlin, who tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament while playing basketball in early September, is expected to make a full recovery in time for the start of the 2016 NASCAR season in February at Daytona International Speedway . The surgery was previously scheduled and was done by OrthoCarolina's Dr. Patrick Connor. The injury did not force Hamlin to miss time, and he finished ninth overall in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Team officials say Hamlin’s status for this week’s Champion’s Week festivities is uncertain at this time.
Matt Kenseth : "Really, I just want to. … I appreciate them having the process and going here, didn't turn out like we wanted. Obviously, I'm more than a little disappointed with the decision and the penalties to start with. A couple of facts, which I'm sure you guys will find -- I'm the first driver in the 65-year history of NASCAR to get suspended for an incident that happened in the Sprint Cup Series race, so I feel like I was unfairly made the example instead of knowing where the line is, what the penalties are. Like I said, I'm extremely disappointed but we'll get through this. Look forward to going to Homestead. I'm not going to change who I am. I'm not going to change what I stand for. I'm not going to change how I race. I've been in this business for a long time. I feel like I've had a pretty good career to this point, and I feel like I'm going to continue to have the respect on the race track that I feel like I deserve. So I'm looking forward to going to Homestead, hopefully going there and getting a win before the year is out." Joe Gibbs Racing team owner Joe Gibbs : "I think all of us right now are just so disappointed. I just wanted to say, that guy right there has spent 20 years in this sport. He had one other minor infraction, I think it was a $5,000 fine. He has spent 20 years of his life racing in this sport and he's been great for NASCAR. Our reason for appealing is we felt like this penalty was kind of unprecedented and it was inconsistent with a number of other on-track incidents. One of those is exactly like this one, and yet this penalty against Matt is an unprecedented one. I appreciate getting the chance to go through this process. I think we've done all we can do, and we're going to go back to racing."
FORT WORTH, Texas -- NASCAR officials confiscated the front-end splitters of Joe Gibbs Racing 's Nos. 11, 18 and 19 Toyotas during pre-race technical inspection prior to Sunday's AAA Texas 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM) at Texas Motor Speedway . The Nos. 18 and 19 Camrys are driven by Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards , respectively. The No. 11 is driven by Denny Hamlin , eliminated from the Chase following the Contender Round. JGR's No. 20 entry, driven this weekend by Erik Jones in place of suspended Matt Kenseth , was cleared through tech inspection with no issues. Crews hastily worked to replace the splitters in the garage area before sending the cars back through inspection. The issue is similar to what happened with Team Penske at Michigan in August. The organization was not penalized by NASCAR following the events, but the splitters were taken back to the sanctioning body's Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. RELATED: Penske splitters confiscated at Michigan The three JGR cars eventually made it through inspection and took their places on the grid.
RELATED: Chase Grid after Talladega " Complete race results TALLADEGA, Ala. – After Sunday's elimination race at Talladega Superspeedway , team owner Joe Gibbs' dream of having all four of his Joe Gibbs Racing drivers in the final four at Homestead will have to wait until next season. Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch 's finishes in Sunday's showdown allowed them to advance to the next round, as Busch squeaked in the last remaining spot on the eight-driver Chase Grid with an 11th-place finish. Edwards' strong fifth-place result propelled him to second in the standings and straight into the next round. Teammates Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin weren't as fortunate, as both battled issues that led to their ultimate elimination. Hamlin's 'Dega woes began midway through the race, when the roof of his No. 11 Toyota began to break off. Hamlin made an unscheduled pit trip down pit road to fix the damage. RELATED: Roof issue, wreck on finish knock Hamlin to 37th place But the repairs proved too brief, as the No. 11 was forced to make a second stop just a few laps later. After getting off the lead lap, Hamlin charged to get back on pace and was caught up in a multi-car melee in the race's final restart that left him with a sour 37th-place result and torn-up race car. "We had a self-inflicted day, took us four times to get our roof fixed," Hamlin said after the race. "It's unfortunate, I feel like I've done all I could possibly do to advance in a three-race season. I feel like we could have won next week. I really can't spin any positive on it right now." Hamlin's elimination came as a surprise to teammate Edwards, as the No. 11 driver was second in the Chase standings entering Sunday's race at Talladega. "Did Denny (Hamlin) get wrecked at the end?" Edwards asked after the race on pit road. "Denny is such a great competitor. He is really -- he has helped me so much and that's frustrating. He deserves to be in it, but, man, it's just so tough, so tough. I'm just very fortunate we made it through." Edwards' second-place position in the Chase standings was a much more comfortable margin than Busch's, who beat out Ryan Newman by three points for the last remaining slot in the grid. "That's what we pretty much planned all day today was to just race and whatever happened, happened," Busch said after the race. "… That's what this team needs and what we need -- I guess the farthest I've ever gone before (in the Chase). "… This is the first time I finished at Talladega without a scratch on the car … I don't know if that's a success or a failure, but either way it was a success for today." RELATED: Did Harvick cause late wreck? Unlike Busch, Kenseth's No. 20 Toyota did leave Alabama with plenty of scratches, as he was caught up in the last-wreck that left him limping with a 26th-place finish and without a shot at the championship title. After being spun by Joey Logano last week at Kansas, the driver entered Sunday's race in a win-or-don't-get-in scenario, one that was only made worse when his tension with race winner Logano rose throughout the event. "The 22 ( Joey Logano ) last week wrecks us for the win to get in, to keep us out and get him in and then today we've got a chance, he's lined up behind, he's dragging the brakes, he's trying not to go," Kenseth said after the race. "He's doing everything he can to make it worse for you, so he's standing there in Victory Lane and he's happy, but the racing is just -- it's just kind of out of control. "… Hopefully, we can get back to racing next week and everybody going fast and trying to win." RELATED: Kenseth thinks Logano is lying about Kansas move
@nascarcasm: Following Hamlin's injury, things changing at Joe Gibbs Racing RELATED: All content from @nascarcasm " Follow @nascarcasm HAMLIN INJURY: Denny tears ACL " Should drivers limit hobbies?
RELATED: Charlotte race results " Updated series standings CONCORD, N.C. -- The conversation was brief and casual, a "congratulations" of sorts for how well his Toyota teams appeared to be performing this season, particularly as NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup rolled ahead. "We said all along we hoped to have as many as five teams in the Chase, and hopefully to still have at least two when we go to Homestead," David Wilson, President and General Manager for Toyota Racing Development, USA, said before Sunday's rescheduled Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway got underway. But, he cautioned, with the elimination-style Chase format, officials don't look any further ahead than the race at hand. "You just never know what can happen," he said. Hours later, the fortunes for two of the more dominant Toyota entries, both from Joe Gibbs Racing , had taken a turn for the worse. Matt Kenseth , five times a winner this season, was in the garage, his day undone by multiple issues in the opening race of the Contender Round of the Chase. His 42nd-place finish left Kenseth, the pole winner at CMS, 12th in the Chase standings. Two opportunities remain -- at Kansas and Talladega -- to win or climb back inside the top eight and advance to the next round, which is the Eliminator Round. "These are never the kind of days you want to have," said Kenseth, who led 72 laps in the 334-lap race. "We're real fast up front and we're real tight in traffic." A four-tire stop dropped Kenseth from the lead to 13th for a Lap 81 restart while contact with Ryan Newman ( Richard Childress Racing ) sent him into the wall following a later restart. The team made numerous pit stops under ensuing caution periods to make repairs, but when Kenseth bounced off the wall at lap 240, his day was done. "We got behind on that first pit deal and then didn't catch the cautions right … I overshot my pit (stall) and put us in the back so it's just like one thing led to another and led to another," he said. "We shouldn't have been back there to start with. My mistakes cost us today so we'll just move on from this and get ready for Kansas." RELATED: Watch Kenseth, Newman make contact Teammate Kyle Busch had a day worth forgetting as well, but the winner of four races this season was still on the track when the checkered flag waved. Busch had qualified second, ran in the top five for much of the race, and was third when contact with Kyle Larson during a Lap 195 caution occurred. "What the (expletive) was he thinking?? Busch asked crew chief Adam Stevens via radio after the incident. "He was never going to make the commitment cone anyway." RELATED: Busch disappointed after rough day at Charlotte Busch had dropped low as if to enter pit road, then made a move back toward the track. Larson, running second, had made a late decision to dive onto pit road, and the two cars collided. Larson said afterward that his team had instructed him to "do what everybody around me was doing, and the No. 22 (of race leader Joey Logano ) was staying out, so I was committed to staying out." At the last minute, he said, his crew instructed him to pit. "I hung a left and Kyle was there," Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) said. "I feel really terrible to ruin their day and hopefully it didn't hurt their chances of transferring through this round. I know they deserve a top-three finish for sure. I felt awful immediately and still do. I hate it." While Kenseth and Busch had their issues, JGR drivers Denny Hamlin (fourth) and Carl Edwards (sixth) escaped the opening race of the second round relatively unscathed. Hamlin's No. 11 survived battery issues that threatened to take him out of contention. "I ran on the wrong battery all day," he said. "… My mistake." Edwards said track position was the key at CMS, noting that, "I tried everything I possibly could there at the end. I got about 35 feet from the 41 car (of fifth-place Kurt Busch ) and that was as close as I could get." In spite of the turn of events for his teammates, Edwards said JGR is as strong as ever. "I feel like any one of us could win at Kansas, and any one of us could win at Talladega," he said. "There's no telling what could happen. We all ran well (at times) and that's the key, having that little bit of speed."
2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion Erik Jones gives his acceptance speech during the end-of-season banquet at the Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood, Florida.