JGR Continues To Dominate, Build DepthFriday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Darlington Raceway was indicative of the season Joe Gibbs Racing is having.
All four JGR entries finished in the top five with Kyle Busch winning and posting his 16th perfect driver rating in the series. It was Busch’s first perfect rating at Darlington and his first since the August 2011 Bristol race.
JGR drivers Elliott Sadler (second), Brian Vickers (third) and Matt Kenseth (fifth) joined Busch in the top five. Three of the team’s four cars are firmly ensconced inside the top 10 in owner points. The No. 54, which Busch has driven to five wins, leads the owner points. The No. 11, driven by Sadler, is fifth, while Vickers’ No 20 is eighth.
The reason for JGR’s success in the NSCS and NNS is due in large part to how the organization approaches the latter.
"It pays off in Nationwide. That’s kind of our training ground for our guys to move up to Cup," said J.D. Gibbs, team president for JGR. "We have guys that work hard, long hours. They enjoy it. They enjoy winning races, too … It’s the best training ground we could ever have."
This season, the team has incorporated a nice blend of full-time NNS talent (Sadler and Vickers) with two drivers competing in the NSCS (Busch and Kenseth). The strength and quality of the personnel (drivers, crew chiefs, crew members) found throughout the organization are why they’ve found success at all levels.
Case in point: Adam Stevens. Over the past two seasons no driver or crew chief has more victories than Stevens, who has been atop the war wagon for all five of Busch’s NNS victories this season. Last year, Stevens called the shots for former JGR driver Joey Logano, who visited Victory Lane nine times with the crew chief.
Because of his success, it’s reasonable to assume that great things lie in store for Stevens, proving the formidability of JGR’s training ground and "bench."
Allgaier Making Gains On Last Year’s PerformanceWhen Justin Allgaier crossed the finished line 10th in last Friday night’s race at Darlington, it was his sixth top 10 of the season.
Although the Illinois native didn’t have a bad year in 2012, after the first nine races of 2013 he’s on track to have a better season. Could the stronger start be what he needs to propel him into title contention?
Allgaier currently sits fourth in the standings, 43 points behind Regan Smith. Last year at this time, he was seventh, 104 points off the lead.
In addition to his 10th-place finish last weekend, Allgaier has finishes of third, fifth, seventh and eighth to go along with another 10th. He only has one finish outside the top 15 – a 31st-place finish at Richmond. Over the first nine races of last year, he had a pair of seventh- and eighth-place finishes to go with two finishes of 32nd or worse.
So far in 2013, he has been running at the end of all the races, while last year he had two DNFs already at this point in the season. His average finish position is 11.1, which is an improvement on the 15.3 he had through the first nine races of 2012.