HUNTERSVILLE – Joe Gibbs Racing strengthened its driver lineup when the team signed Matt Kenseth and Elliott Sadler last year.
The next step for the Huntersville-based team might be to expand its trophy case.
Kenseth’s win July 5 in the Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway marked JGR’s seventh Nationwide win of the year. It was Kenseth’s first Nationwide win as a driver for JGR.
He’s still got some catching up to do with regard to Kyle Busch.
Busch, who spent last year’s Nationwide season driving for his own Kyle Busch Motorsports team, rejoined the Gibbs foray this season and rattled off six wins in the first 10 races.
Kenseth and Busch aren’t racing for the Nationwide championship, however. They’re chasing the Sprint Cup title and are ineligible to earn points toward a driver’s title in Nationwide competition.
The good news for Gibbs is that Kenseth (four Sprint Cup wins) and Busch (two) are thick in the hunt to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Their Nationwide starts simply serve two purposes: collect as many victories as possible and improve the program for the team’s two full-time Nationwide drivers, Elliott Sadler and Brian Vickers.
Sadler and Vickers are yet to visit victory lane this year.
Vickers seemed to have a winning car at Daytona, but contact late in the race forced him into the infield grass, damaging his No. 20 Toyota and relegating him to a 13th-place finish.
Vickers tweeted after the race that he had a good car, but “mowed the grass” and fell short of victory.
Sadler was unable to pass Kenseth on a late-race restart, but JGR’s top-ranked Nationwide driver – Sadler ranks third in points – still had reason to smile.
Kenseth got the trophy, but Sadler won a $100,000 bonus by being the highest-finishing driver eligible for the Nationwide Insurance Dash 4 Cash program.