Sunday, April 15, 2012

Gibbs Garage: Caddying and caring for kids on the way to Texas

The No. 11 sports a March of Dimes paint scheme
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
Other drivers may have golfed during the off-week, but Denny Hamlin was the only one who wore a one-piece suit that was not a fire suit. Hamlin donned a white jumpsuit and caddied for his pro-golfer buddy Bubba Watson, who became the 2012 Masters champion a few days later.

The No. 11 FedEx Toyota sported new duds, too. The car featured a March of Dimes paint scheme to help raise awareness for March for Babies walks occurring this month. Hamlin’s special guest at TMS was a healthy six-year-old boy who was born two months early and received help from the March of Dimes. “This is the fifth year that we have had the March of Dimes paint scheme on our No. 11 FedEx car, and I’m proud to help represent such a great organization,” Hamlin said.

Hamlin’s record at TMS includes two wins, 5 top 5s and 8 top 10s in 13 Sprint Cup starts. After starting 13th in the Samsung Mobile 500, Hamlin had a miscue on an early pit stop and lost about eight positions. He rallied over the next 40 laps and ran the last half of the race just outside the top ten and finished 12th.

Kyle Busch pulled into Texas Motor Speedway hoping to get his first Sprint Cup win at the track – for himself and for longtime Gibbs sponsor, Interstate Batteries. Although Busch drove the Interstate Batteries colors to victory a NCWTS race and several drivers won in the Nationwide series for the sponsor, they have yet to score a Cup win.

Busch started in 17th spot, then slowly gained a few positions, running in the midteens for the first 140+ laps. During the next green flag pit stop, the crew had a misstep when the jack came down on the air hose, and the No. 18’s track position suffered. For the remainder of the long green run, Busch crept forward like a smooth-and-steady Texas drawl. He earned a respectable 11th place finish and moved up two positions in the standings.

Joey Logano at TMS
Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs

Joey Logano spent some time in the Nashville area during the Easter break, doing some testing at Nashville Superspeedway. He joined his team owner and fellow drivers Brian Scott and Jason Leffler at the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Coach Gibbs and the drivers blessed the kids by going room to room, handing out hero cards and Dollar General replica racecars.

After rolling off 14th at TMS, the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota dropped to 20th early on and never made it back into the top 15. Logano fought a tight-handling racecar for the entire race, with the crew making adjustments each pit stop in attempts to make the car better on restarts.

Logano’s pre-race comments were indicative of his performance on Saturday night. “Texas has not been one of my better tracks on the schedule. I like the track a lot, but I’ve always struggled there a bit...” On the up side, Logano crossed the line 20th, better than his average finish of 26th.

The points standings for the JGR drivers after Texas:
Denny Hamlin – 6th
Joey Logano – 13th
Kyle Busch – 14th

Beth Bence Reinke writes "Gibbs Garage," Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Cup team recaps, for the 2012 season. Her Skirts and Scuffs column, “Faith on the Frontstretch,” explores the role of faith in motorsports. Beth is the author of Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a devotional book geared toward female NASCAR fans. Follow Beth on Twitter at @bbreinke or reach her at


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