Darlington success masks JGR crew’s wrestle for velocity
The Wednesday evening race at Darlington Raceway might have been this season’s finest displaying for the Toyota camp, led by a Denny Hamlin victory. However there have been no emphatic declarations about being again on high.
“(That) was by far the perfect race that we had so far as being aggressive on velocity,” mentioned Hamlin. “So, I don’t know what that claims as a result of it was an evening race. There was extra on-throttle time. I believe we’re nonetheless behind; I don’t suppose we are able to sugarcoat it in any sort of manner and say we’re in good condition now.”
Joe Gibbs Racing went 1-2 with Hamlin and Kyle Busch within the Toyota 500. Hamlin is now a two-time winner this 12 months, following up on his Daytona 500 victory from February. He’s additionally the one Toyota driver who has been to victory lane by means of six races.
Erik Jones completed fifth Wednesday evening after spending time on the entrance of the sector, main 27 laps. Martin Truex Jr. additionally led, 16 laps, and was 10th within the ultimate working order; and simply behind him was Christopher Bell in 11th — a Cup Collection career-best end.
“I believe we’re proper there,” mentioned Truex of velocity. “We’re in all probability not the strongest crew proper now. I don’t suppose our vehicles are the quickest vehicles on the market. I believe should you take a look at the stats, we’ve had some actually good race vehicles with the 19 (crew).
“Stage level clever, we’re actually trying good. We’ve gotten numerous stage factors — I believe greater than anybody. Our Stage 2 outcomes have positively been actually good and common end clever, it’s simply been little errors right here and there.”
Truex does lead the sequence in stage factors along with his 67 main Alex Bowman’s 65. Stage factors have been the saving grace for Truex’s crew within the total standings, contemplating that Truex had not scored a top-10 end till this previous week in each Darlington races.
Truex is eighth within the standings, forward of many who’ve a greater total common end; there Truex is 19th.
“There are just a few little issues we have to clear up for the outcomes,” mentioned Truex. “We’re proper there, I believe. Denny’s win the opposite evening was large for the corporate, I really feel like, and all 4 of our vehicles — actually all 5 of our vehicles — have been aggressive at Darlington, particularly (in) the second race.”
Earlier than the game went on hiatus due to COVID-19, questions have been beginning about what was incorrect with the Toyotas. After dominating the NASCAR Cup Collection final 12 months, its groups appeared to get off to a gradual begin, aside from Hamlin’s Daytona 500 superspeedway win. Most notably, Toyota had only one automobile inside the highest 15 on the Las Vegas and Phoenix races.
Even after Fontana, a race the place 4 of the 5 Toyota groups completed inside the highest 15, drivers have been nonetheless saying extra work was wanted. Busch was outspoken about lacking one thing and being gradual. Hamlin had additionally used the ‘gradual’ phrase.
“I believe the Hendrick vehicles are the category of the sector proper now,” famous Hamlin. “Throw within the Fords. The Fords are at all times quick. We noticed the 14 [Clint Bowyer] very robust (on Wednesday). I believe we nonetheless have numerous work to do. I noticed some enchancment from Sunday to (Wednesday), and that was simply setup.
“The vehicles weren’t a giant distinction. It was simply getting your automobile proper for the racetrack. Perhaps placing extra emphasis on the precise setup and having the automobile really drive good is one thing that’s going to be higher for fulfillment for us.”
Truex’s optimism comes from what’s forward on the schedule. He dominated the Coca-Cola 600 final 12 months en path to successful, having executed the identical in 2016. Cup Collection groups will run the Coke 600 on Sunday after which a second race on the observe mid-week, offering two extra intermediate assessments for the Toyota camp to see the place they stack up.
“We’re proper there, we simply must hold plugging away and make all the proper changes,” mentioned Truex. “Charlotte has been an excellent place for us, and hopefully, this weekend will go properly.”