Written By David Morgan – Follow at @damorgan86
January 19, 2013
Joe Gibbs Racing is next on our list to preview for the 2013 season. In 2013, JGR will field the #11, #18, and #20 Toyota Camry’s for drivers Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Matt Kenseth, respectively.
Despite 5 wins, 14 top five finishes, and 17 top ten finishes in 2012 as well as qualifying for the Chase again, Denny Hamlin and crew chief Darian Grubb came up short of the championship yet again last year. With Hamlin and Grubb having a year together under their belts, one has to wonder if this is the year that Hamlin finally gets it done and wins the championship after coming close in recent years. Hamlin seems to come out of the gate strong to start the year, but fizzles once the end of the year nears. If Hamlin and crew can put together a whole year and avoid the mechanical failures that hurt them late in 2012, then the #11 FedEx team might be right up there when Homestead rolls around in November.
After a 2012 season that many would consider the worst of his career, Busch and crew chief Dave Rogers are looking ahead to 2013 as a rebound year. Busch only found Victory Lane once and failed to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, due in large part to a rash of mechanical failures that led Busch to a 13th place points finish. As long as Busch can put his dismal 2012 season behind him and avoid the mechanical gremlins in 2013, he should have no problem finding Victory Lane and qualifying for the Chase in 2013. Busch could also be a championship contender if all the cards fall right for Busch and his team.
After driving for Roush Fenway Racing for the majority of his career, Matt Kenseth moves over to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013 to take over the #20 Home Depot/Dollar General Toyota. Kenseth will team up with crew chief Jason Ratcliff in 2013 and as the only member of the JGR squad with a championship, could raise the game of both Hamlin and Busch. Kenseth should no doubt be able to find himself in Victory Lane and be in the Chase again this year and if 2012 is any indication, will be a force to be reckoned with at the restrictor plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega, where Kenseth won two of his races in 2012.