Gibbs Garage: Teammates tangle amid twists and turns at Sonoma

Kyle Busch at Sonoma
Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
For a team owner, it’s heartbreaking when a driver takes out a teammate. Joe Gibbs felt that pain in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. With less than 20 to go, all three JGR drivers were involved in an incident resulting in one being done for the day.

During the first caution, which came late in the race at lap 83, both Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano made pit stops. Restarting on fresh tires, Hamlin went from 14th to 10th and Logano moved from 13th to 8th. Kyle Busch had stayed out with the leaders, so restarted fourth on old tires.

As the restart unfolded, Busch made minor contact with Jimmie Johnson and several cars got by the No. 18, including Hamlin. After Hamlin passed Logano for eighth position, Busch and Hamlin entered the hairpin turn running side by side, with the No. 20 close behind. Logano wheel-hopped and bumped Hamlin, sending him for a spin. For the second week in a row, Hamlin ended up in the garage, this time with a broken upper control arm. He finished 35th.

A discouraged Hamlin Tweeted: “It’s hard to think of the positives after a day like this. Seems like every time I come here it’s the same story. Run great, get wrecked.” His week should improve though, as he heads to Alaska to visit FedEx folks in Anchorage. Part of the plan is for Hamlin to learn about a different kind of racing from Iditarod champion, Dallas Seavey, then the two will compete in a short dog sled race.
Kyle Busch started the race seventh, but got into top five early on and ran there for the first 90 laps. After the incident with his teammates, he held onto the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota for a few more laps on slippery, worn tires. Then with four to go, he got into the back of Paul Menard and sustained damage to his right front end. An irritated Busch spouted fiery words to his crew on the radio as they discussed whether to pit or not. As crew members kept a positive attitude, attempting to cheer Busch on, he took the No. 18 in for new tires. He finished 17th, two spots higher than his average finish at Sonoma.

Joey Logano rolled off 14th and ran the first half of the race in the teens, struggling with rear grip. After the incident where he spun Hamlin, Logano immediately apologized, radioing in to his crew, “Tell him I’m sorry.”

Logano's post-race thoughts on the incident with teammate Hamlin: “When you get down in there and you’re trying to keep the car behind you, it’s just tight racing and we started to get into wheel-hopping. At that point, we were out of control. Denny had an upper brake anyways -- still it’s tough to see a couple guys get into a couple Toyotas. You don’t mean to. I already talked to him and we’re going to move on.”

Logano was able to maintain track position and brought the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in 10th place. With a sixth at Sonoma and a fifth at Watkins Glen in 2011, this is Logano’s third top ten in his last three Sprint Cup road course races.

Points standings for the JGR drivers after Sonoma:
Denny Hamlin – 8th (-3)
Kyle Busch – 12th
Joey Logano – 15th

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

Gibbs Garage: Teammates tangle amid twists and turns at Sonoma Gibbs Garage: Teammates tangle amid twists and turns at Sonoma Reviewed by Beth Reinke on Monday, June 25, 2012 Rating: 5