2011 Team Preview: Joe Gibbs Racing

Joe Gibbs Racing

Joe Gibbs Racing is fielding three cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. (Photo: Getty Images)


Joe Gibbs Racing is ready to once again challenge for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship with its trio of drivers all carrying a legitimate shot at making the Chase into the 2011 season.
Despite Denny Hamlin falling short of delivering JGR last season's title, the team remains upbeat about its chances to again contend for this year’s championship as the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary in NASCAR.
“We’re pumped about this season no question about it and of course last year didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped,” said president J.D. Gibbs. “But that said there’s no reason we can’t be right in the middle of things again this season and I think all of our teams have a chance to make some noise this season.”
Hamlin will once again be joined by Kyle Busch and Joey Logano in the three-car JGR Sprint Cup effort.
Denny Hamlin's FedEx Toyota will have a new look in 2011. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)“We obviously had a career year last year so we know we can do it,” Hamlin said of his opportunity to unseat Jimmie Johnson as the 2011 champion. “We won at all kinds of different race tracks. All my key personnel are back; the pit crew is the same. The driver will be a little bit better. Everything is in place to hopefully pull off the first one.”

After coming so close in 2010, Hamlin says his only focus in the coming season is to win the championship.

“For me, it’s always championship or bust,” Hamlin said. “If I don’t win the championship, then I’ve taken a step back because I finished second in points. If I finish third, how am I going to consider that a successful year because I just took a step back from where I was last year?

“For me, there is only one more spot to move up and I’m going to go into this year with a whole lot more knowledge of what I need to do and what I need to work on from this point forward.”

Kyle Busch's 2011 Interstate Batteries and M&M's paint scheme. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)Busch joins teammate Hamlin in the confidence department and believes he learned a lot from last year’s experience which saw him return to the Chase field but hit some speed bumps during the 10-race playoff run.

“We need to be better at preventing some things,” said Busch. “Whether it’s car problems or myself losing my temper or maybe just working with [crew chief] Dave [Rogers] a little better and having more consistent times that we are able to spend together.

“Communication and being able to talk goes a long way in this sport now. It seems like it’s more than ever, it used to just be laid on the crew chief, ‘Bring me a good car and I’ll win the race.’ Now you have to work on making a good car the competition is so close.”

For Logano the start of the 2011 season will be important as the fourth year Sprint Cup driver hopes to carry his end of last season momentum into the new campaign.

Logano was red hot down the stretch with an impressive string of top-10 finishes that has helped his confidence greatly heading into the 2011 season which he hopes will include a place in the Chase.

"We definitely want to be in the Chase, and I think we are a Chase-caliber team now," Logano said.'"I think we showed it at the end of last year for sure that we are capable of doing it. We just have to make the least amount of mistakes possible."

Joe Gibbs: "This is a good time for us.” (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)With three solid teams ready to do battle for a potential third championship for Joe Gibbs Racing, the team’s CEO is feeling good about how things have progressed since the organization first opened its doors.

“Twenty years ago,” JGR owner Joe Gibbs said, “we had 16 employees working in a small leased building. Today, we have more than 400. This is a good time for us.”

Tune in tomorrow when MotorRacingNetwork.com previews Stewart-Haas Racing.

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