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Gibbs Racing Begins Chase In Position Of Power

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 13 2015
Matt Kenseth, who won at Richmond Saturday night, leads a Joe Gibbs Racing parade of drivers into NASCAR's 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Rusty Jarrett)

Matt Kenseth, who won at Richmond Saturday night, leads a Joe Gibbs Racing parade of drivers into NASCAR’s 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Rusty Jarrett)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

RICHMOND, Va. – Joe Gibbs Racing enters the Chase having won eight of the last 11 races, the favorite to walk off with the 2015 title, but when the season began it was a bleak time for the organization.

buganalysisKyle Bush was sidelined in February with a broken right leg and left foot before the Daytona 500 ever received the green flag. A month later it became public that JGR President J.D. Gibbs was undergoing treatment for symptoms impacting areas of his brain function. And Carl Edwards was struggling with his newly-formed team, posting only one top 10 in the first 11 races.

Then came Charlotte race weeks in May and JGR pulled a major upset by sweeping them, winning the Sprint All-Star race, the Coca-Cola 600 and the poles for both events. J.D. Gibbs also was able to attend the events.

By the time Edwards won stock car racing’s longest race, Hamlin and Kenseth had earned their way into the Chase with victories in Martinsville and Bristol, respectively. Busch also returned at Charlotte with the stipulation from NASCAR that he could still earn his way into the Chase with a victory and a position in the top 30 in the point standings.

“It certainly was a roller-coaster season, probably more for my team and guys and everybody that started the season in Daytona, switching seats out, having other drivers in my car,” Busch said. “Once I did come back, they were all ready to perform.”

Busch was only five races into his return when he emerged victorious at Sonoma. However, he was still 37th in the standings. After a 17th-place finish at Daytona, Busch reeled off three straight victories. That performance moved him into 32nd in the standings. Two races later Busch recorded a second at Watkins Glen and cracked the top 30 in points.

By the time the regular season ended at Richmond, Busch had secured the 25th position the standings and locked himself into the Chase as the No. 2 seed. With four victories, he was tied in wins with top seed Jimmie Johnson and No. 3 seed Kenseth. Edwards was seeded eighth with two victories and Hamlin 11th in the 16-team field with one win.

“I think the way our team is running right now, the way that Joe Gibbs Racing has been showing some strength, it certainly makes this Chase a heck of a lot sweeter,” Busch said. “We all feel like we’ve got a great opportunity or the best chance to be able to come out here and perform, to make it to the final round and win a championship for Joe.”

Even the final race in the regular season was a JGR affair. Kenseth earned his fourth victory this year by dominating Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, leading 352 of the 400 laps. Teammates Hamlin and Busch led 14 and nine laps, respectively. The only non-JGR driver to lead the event was Joey Logano and he set the pace five times for 25 laps.

“Probably the thing I’m most proud of as an organization is all the cars are running well,” Kenseth said. “Sometimes you get big and you maybe have a car or two that runs good and a car or two that don’t, some people get along, some people don’t. Right now, for as many people as we have there, as many new people, it’s pretty cohesive.”

A three-time Super Bowl champion coach, team owner Joe Gibbs noted that it’s just natural to go through some tough stuff in life.

“But, also, I think in going through some of those tough times, it can really build character, and you get a chance to study everybody,” Gibbs said. “That’s one of the best times to study people, as we know, because human nature being what it is, we have a tough time dealing with adversity.

“It’s a very competitive thing, pro sports. The hardest thing in pro sports is staying up there. So that will be our challenge now.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Federated Auto Parts 400

Richmond International Raceway

Richmond, Virginia

Saturday, September 12, 2015

  1. (2) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 400, $262451.
  2. (4) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 400, $203716.
  3. (1) Joey Logano, Ford, 400, $179483.
  4. (24) Aric Almirola, Ford, 400, $158236.
  5. (29) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 400, $130950.
  6. (25) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400, $116915.
  7. (23) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 400, $138801.
  8. (3) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 400, $135331.
  9. (9) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 400, $133601.
  10. (26) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 400, $123523.
  11. (7) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 400, $88840.
  12. (11) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400, $114898.
  13. (31) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 399, $115806.
  14. (6) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 399, $133315.
  15. (8) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 399, $98465.
  16. (19) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 399, $91215.
  17. (5) David Ragan, Toyota, 398, $110129.
  18. (20) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 398, $96765.
  19. (14) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 397, $90440.
  20. (13) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 397, $114790.
  21. (15) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 397, $108123.
  22. (17) Brian Scott(i), Chevrolet, 397, $102823.
  23. (28) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 397, $122565.
  24. (21) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 397, $109998.
  25. (18) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 397, $100748.
  26. (22) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 397, $88840.
  27. (12) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 397, $117526.
  28. (32) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 397, $106698.
  29. (10) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 396, $107104.
  30. (35) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 396, $81265.
  31. (38) Greg Biffle, Ford, 396, $110173.
  32. (16) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 394, $102835.
  33. (30) David Gilliland, Ford, 393, $93912.
  34. (43) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 392, $76240.
  35. (37) Brett Moffitt #, Ford, 391, $77590.
  36. (33) Matt DiBenedetto #, Toyota, 390, $75935.
  37. (36) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 390, $75788.
  38. (34) Cole Whitt, Ford, 389, $70777.
  39. (41) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, 387, $66705.
  40. (42) Jeffrey Earnhardt(i), Ford, 387, $62705.
  41. (40) Reed Sorenson, Ford, 335, $58705.
  42. (39) Michael McDowell, Ford, Accident, 287, $54705.
  43. (27) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, Accident, 145, $51205.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  100.353 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 59 Mins, 22 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.951 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  6 for 47 laps.

Lead Changes:  13 among 4 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   J. Logano 1-14; M. Kenseth 15-46; J. Logano 47; M. Kenseth 48-103; J. Logano 104-108; M. Kenseth 109-121; J. Logano 122-125; D. Hamlin 126-138; M. Kenseth 139-216; D. Hamlin 217; Kyle Busch 218-226; M. Kenseth 227-296; J. Logano 297; M. Kenseth 298-400.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  M. Kenseth 6 times for 352 laps; J. Logano 5 times for 25 laps; D. Hamlin 2 times for 14 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 9 laps.

Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 978; J. Logano – 948; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 894; B. Keselowski – 873; J. Johnson – 852; M. Kenseth – 824; M. Truex Jr. – 818; D. Hamlin – 793; Kurt Busch – 781; J. Mcmurray – 757; C. Edwards – 746; R. Newman – 738; J. Gordon – 737; C. Bowyer – 716; P. Menard – 710; A. Almirola – 693.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 13 2015
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