With the addition of Carl Edwards to Joe Gibbs Racing, a current crew chief could be in line to lead his team.
Could there be a change in the crew chief line up at Joe Gibbs Racing?
Before Darian Grubb found himself on sabbatical following infractions on the No. 11 Toyota in the Brickyard 400, there was chatter of a crew chief shuffle at JGR for 2015 in the advent of Carl Edwards’ arrival.
Over the last four months, JGR has been recruiting for the fourth team for Edwards – which is expected to be supported by Toyota Care, Subway and a sponsor that’s currently with another driver. But could Grubb be a candidate to lead Edwards’ crew?
“They’re trying to put together the race teams and everything but I haven’t noticed anything being different for us,” Denny Hamlin said. “I think literally that will be an October question more so than right now because all the crew chiefs are so worried about how we’re going to run in the Chase.
“We haven’t had those discussions one-on-one yet.”
While all three Gibbs teams are currently in line for the Chase, their performances have not been remarkable.
Hamlin is currently 21st in the Sprint Cup point standings, despite missing the race at Auto Club Speedway in March due to a sinus infection.
Both Hamlin and his teammate Kyle Busch have one win this season. Hamlin’s victory – and the most recent for JGR – came at Talladega in May, 12 races ago. Busch has been partnered with Dave Rogers since the end of 2009 and have 13 Sprint Cup victories together -- most recently at Fontana.
The newest Gibbs’ driver Matt Kenseth, who is currently fourth in the Sprint Cup point standings, posted seven wins last year with crew chief Jason Ratcliff but is 0-21 in 2014.
With an eighth-place starting position in Sunday’s Cheez-It 355, Kenseth will lead Hamlin (17th) and Busch (19th) to the green flag.
While Hamlin has been inconsistent this season – and second to 17th in the standings until a 75-point penalty following Indy knocked him back to 21st – the No. 11 team posted top 10s finishes in the last four races. Although Mike Wheeler is filling in for Grubb in his absence, Hamlin is optimistic given his team’s recent improvements.
“We’re running better,” Hamlin said. “So you’re obviously a little bit more encouraged by the way we’re running now.”