In 2018, Joe Gibbs Racing will once again have a new look. Entering the fold is second year driver Erik Jones, replacing the now retired Matt Kenseth in the no. 20 DeWalt Camry. Chris Gayle will be crew chief, coming with Jones from Furniture Row, where they worked together last season. Returning from last year are second year driver Daniel Suarez in the no. 19 Arris Camry with Scott Graves returning as crew chief. Also returning are Gibbs mainstays Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, who both return to their machines with the same crew chiefs as last year, looking to build further from last year’s successes.
When writing about a powerhouse like Joe Gibbs Racing, it is truly hard for me to build solid expectations when you know they are capable of winning half the schedule if they function on all cylinders. Realistically, I see this team winning about ten to twelve races across the board, and I believe all four drivers will see victory lane this year, which is something that cannot be said about every four car team. All four of their primary sponsors in FedEx, Mars Brands, Arris, and DeWalt Tools are all set to return to their roles in 2018. M&M’s will once again utilize their Caramel branding on the no. 18 Camry for this season.
With the departing Matt Kenseth, this makes “Wild Thing” Kyle Busch the elder statesman at Joe Gibbs Racing. This is an opportunity that he’s been prepared for for a few years now with the help of his current and former teammates. He credits being teammates with Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Tony Stewart for his recent raises in his maturity levels. He feels like he will be a great person for drivers like Suarez and Jones to look up to and ask for advice. That would not be the first time they will have looked up to Busch for advice given they both got their starts in NASCAR driving for his truck team, Kyle Busch Motorsports. Busch believes they both still have some learning to do, but the learning curve will be quick and they should find their footing quickly in their sophomore seasons. This bodes well for the success of the team, as we know Busch and Hamlin will be up front contending for wins as always. This team looks poised to have one of the best years they’ve ever had on the MENCS circuit.