Monday, October 1, 2012

Gibbs Garage: Despite fuel mileage woes, JGR earns three top 10s at the Monster Mile

The No. 18 on pit road before the AAA 400
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke   
Throughout today’s AAA 400 at Dover, it seemed as if Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were working together. The two cars ran back-to-back for almost the entire event.

Polesitter Hamlin had a rocket ship early on, grabbing the lead on the first lap and staying out front for the first 34 laps. Then Busch, who had been running second, passed his teammate and stayed out front for the next 111 laps. Busch dominated the race, leading four times, including a 127-lap stretch, for a race-high total of 302.

Crew chiefs Darian Grubb and Dave Rogers decided not to gamble on fuel mileage because the risk of losing positions and points was very real. In the end, both cars pitted for fuel, but still finished seventh (Busch) and eighth (Hamlin.)

Hamlin before the race
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke
 Hamlin’s post-race thought on fuel mileage gambles:

“If we weren’t going to make it, we weren’t going to make it. There was no sense in us gambling and going several laps down. Some people have better fuel mileage, but not as good of a handling racecar. I’ll take good-handling race cars and food horsepower any day. Right now, between Richmond and here, it’s costing us a lot of spots. Still, top-10 day on a race track like this and to battle for the win all day – I’m not going to complain.”

Rogers talked about the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota:

“The car was strong all day. Kyle did a phenomenal job, but our numbers just said we couldn’t make it. All race we’re scanning everybody ad every time the 2 (Brad Keselowski) or the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) would say they ha d to pit, it was five to six laps later than us. I knew they had better fuel mileage than us and I knew if it came down to a fuel mileage race that we were going to be in trouble. We played our best cards and we came up short. There was no doubt that we had the fastest car today.”
The No. 20 car in the garage area
Photo by Beth Bence Reinke

Joey Logano rolled off 14th and started off loose in the turns. After the first caution, he ended up in 17th spot, a lap down. Logano worked himself up to 10th by the halfway mark and maintained it for most of the second half. With about 35 to go, the Home Depot Toyota was in the free pass position, but didn’t get a caution. He crossed the finish line in 10th, still a lap down, with only six cars on the lead lap.

This was Logano’s 11th top-10 finish of the season and his fourth top 10 in eight career Cup starts at Dover.

Points standings after Dover: 
Denny Hamlin – 3rd (15 points behind Chase leader)
Kyle Busch – 13th
Joey Logano – 18th
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Beth Bence Reinke is a columnist, support editor & media rep for Skirts and Scuffs. She writes "Gibbs Garage," Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Cup team recaps, for the 2012 season. Her column, “Faith on the Frontstretch,” explores the role of faith in motorsports. Beth is also the author of Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a devotional book geared toward female NASCAR fans. Follow her on Twitter at @bbreinke or reach her at bbreinke@skirtsandScuffs.com


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