Where to begin? Another win by a Joe Gibbs Racing team?
That’s six in the season’s first nine races as Martin Truex Jr. joins teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin in the win column.
Maybe as NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series heads into its first break, the story isn’t how good JGR has been out of the gate but how others have struggled.
Chevrolet teams are now 0-for-9 and that will continue to be an issue. Saturday’s Toyota Owners 400 marked the first time all season that a Chevrolet driver failed to lead at least one lap. The last time that happened was last fall’s stop at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway).
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch has been the most consistent of Chevy drivers, finishing inside the top 10 on six occasions.
Ford has a stellar lineup but thus far only Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have struck pay dirt, winning the three races that JGR somehow overlooked.
Stewart-Haas Racing hasn’t been invisible – Kevin Harvick is fourth in points, Clint Bowyer seemed in contention for wins at Bristol and Richmond while Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez are 11th and 12th in points, respectively. But there’s nothing in the win column yet.
• Saturday’s win was No. 20 for Truex, tying him with Speedy Thompson for 41st overall on the NASCAR Cup win list. Thompson’s last victory came at Richmond in 1960.
There are more Richmond tie-ins: Jeremy Mayfield, Carl Edwards and now Truex all won at Richmond with the No. 19. The first of Mayfield’s two victories in the No. 19 (for Evernham Motorsports) came at Richmond in ’04; it was the final race of the “regular” season and catapulted the driver into that year’s Chase.
Truex is the fourth different driver to win a Cup race using the No. 19. The others were John Rostek (Arizona State Fairgrounds in 1960), Mayfield and Edwards.
He is the 10th driver to win a Cup race with JGR, joining Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Hamlin, Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Logano and Edwards.
• Besides being the sixth Cup win for Toyota this year, it was win No. 130 for the automaker since it began fielding Cup teams in ’07. Overall, Toyota now has a combined 468 wins in Cup, Xfinity (154) and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series (184).
• Kyle Busch picked up his fifth stage win of ’19 at Richmond and the 25th of his career; Logano won a stage for the fourth time this season. Neither total includes final stage (race) wins. Combined with bonus points for race wins, Busch has already earned 20 playoff points.
• On Friday, Harvick ended the run of eight different pole winners to start the season. The SHR driver also started out front at Las Vegas.
Got me to wondering who might be in the midst of longest dry spell when it comes to poles. First thought was Ryan Newman, who won poles frequently earlier in his career and has 51 to his credit.
Now competing for Roush Fenway Racing, Newman’s last pole came in 2013.
That’s not the longest among active drivers though.
Clint Bowyer’s last pole came in 2007. It’s one of two for the SHR racer, it came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Bowyer went on to win the race.
• Noted in the points standings after nine races: The top two in points are unchanged from this time last season – Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Fourth and fifth are the same as well – Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski. So four of the top five are 2018 all over again. What are the odds of that being the case?
Likewise for Aric Almirola (11th) and Austin Dillon (14th).
Several others in the top 16 are within a position or two of their points position a year ago – Truex and Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney.
• An Xfinity note: Tyler Reddick won the Xfinity championship last year with JR Motorsports and while he hasn’t won a race yet since switching to Richard Childress Racing, Reddick is your points leader through eight races. Says something about the driver and the team.
Christopher Bell (2), Cole Custer (2) and Michael Annett are your series regulars in victory lane so far and they’re second, third and seventh in points.
And along those lines … was reminded last week that the success for Cup teams winning this year shouldn’t come as a surprise since rules packages have slowly made Cup entries more similar to their Xfinity brethren (or so we’ve been told). And which teams have been dominant in Xfinity in recent years?
• NASCAR takes a break for the Easter holiday this weekend; next up will be Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for Cup and Xfinity teams April 27-28. The Truck Series will be back on track at Dover (Del.) International Speedway May 3.