JGR pleased with Busch's showing at Martinsville
MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- It figured that Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch had just scored his first Sprint Cup top-five finish in five races -- and only his ninth this season after logging a career-high 17 last year -- and JGR president J.D. Gibbs was being asked about reorganizing Busch's team.
Gibbs was more interested in highlighting the significance of Busch and crew chief Steve Addington's best finish at Martinsville Speedway since the new car's opening season, 2004 -- their onrushing fourth place finish in Sunday's Tums Fast Relief 500 -- than what might occur in the offseason.
We just want to make sure we have the right tools, the right people in the right place at JGR. We think we have a great group of crew chiefs to engineers to guys on the shop floor across the whole board.
J.D. GIBBS"As far as the Addington crew piece," Gibbs said in his post-race media briefing with his organization's winning driver, Denny Hamlin. "From our standpoint, we just want to make sure we have the right tools, the right people in the right place at JGR. We think we do. We think we have a great group of crew chiefs to engineers to guys on the shop floor across the whole board."
In Sprint Cup, JGR placed only Hamlin's team in the Chase after putting all three in the championship hunt a year ago. On the Nationwide side, however, Busch unofficially expanded his championship lead to 215 points over Carl Edwards on Saturday at Memphis; while JGR's cars have won 12 races and are first and fifth in the owners' standings.
"I think for us our goal is to make sure we have those right pieces and the right parts, in the right places," Gibbs said. "That's kind of what we're looking at as far as in the future -- but we do that every year with every team.
"So I think for us [Busch's finish] was encouraging, and we're looking forward to hopefully keep the momentum going in the future."
For Busch, who's far from pleased to be anywhere after a race than in Victory Lane, his best short-track weekend in more than a month was cause to celebrate his team, not speak of tearing it apart -- though the question wasn't directly posed to him, post-race.
"The guys had awesome pit stops all day," Busch said. "The guys worked hard. We made a lot of changes [Sunday]. Every stop we made a change on the car trying to make it better."
The program led to Busch's best Martinsville finish since he was fourth in both events in the new car's debut season in 2007, breaking a finishing string of 38th, 29th and 24th here in the spring.
"It was tough -- definitely a great battle with everybody," Busch said. "It was a hard-fought day and the M&M's Camry was decent. I'm real proud of the effort."
Busch went out of his way after the race to find his former Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, the three-time defending Cup champion who added to his championship lead and praise Johnson and his Gibbs teammate Hamlin for dominating Martinsville, as either one or the other has won the last seven races.
But mostly Busch did nothing but look ahead.
"Just real proud of the effort on our guys' side," Busch said. "We had a hard-fought race there to get fourth. The guys worked hard and every stop we made changes and we got better. From the gain we made this spring to right now, we need to make that gain again and I think we can win one."
That would solve a lot of what's ailing Busch and, he said, his organization as a whole. And, after winning eight races a year ago, but none after Watkins Glen in August; then winning three of the first 10 races this season, but having just one win in the 22 races since, it's overdue.
"We want to win everywhere," Busch said. "We want to win any week and the Joe Gibbs cars seem to be a little bit off. But Denny has been doing an awesome job with them. I've been trying to get there and trying to get a little bit better.
"It seems like the past couple weeks, we've done some improving. We've got a lot more to go."
Gibbs seemed to agree.
"I think for Kyle, as a team with the 18 car we've struggled here the past couple races, so to have that finish at the end was really good; that was encouraging," Gibbs said. "So I think as a whole for Kyle just right now, a lot of it is just the confidence. The reality is he's really gifted."
At the four remaining race tracks, Talladega, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead; Busch has a single Cup victory at Talladega and Phoenix though he's won eight times at those tracks in NASCAR's three national tours