By Adam Carabine & Logan Morris
This year, in preparation for the 2024 NASCAR season, we present our Team Previews Series. Each day until the end of January, a new Team Preview will be live on our website. Check back every day to see what we have to say about your favourite team!
Adam Carabine: It’s the penultimate Team Preview, Logan! Today we’re examining one of the major powerhouses of the NASCAR Cup Series, Joe Gibbs Racing. I think there’s plenty to be excited about when it comes to this team this year. Hamlin is a regular contender, Truex had a great regular season and will look to back that up with a better playoff run this year, Bell has shown himself to be a bonafide playoff performer, and Ty Gibbs will hope to build on an impressive rookie campaign. Who piques your interest first, Logan?
Logan Morris: Ty Gibbs! He just barely missed the playoffs last seasons and I feel like he’s poised for a multi-win breakout season in 2024.
AC: Ty Gibbs really did impress last season. His Rookie of the Year award wound up not meaning much, since his only competition was Noah Gragson who left LMC halfway through the year. But he finished in 18th place overall, that is nothing to scoff at. I agree with you that we’ll see him get his first Cup Series win this season. I’m not sure I’m ready to go multi-win just yet, but I’m also willing to be proven wrong. Who is this year’s top performer at JGR?
LM: Christopher Bell. He’s really shown himself to be a championship contender in recent years and I think 2024 is the year we officially call him the face of the team, as far as on-track performance is concerned. Denny will remain a hot topic off the track, but he and Martin Truex Jr. aren’t getting younger. This feels like it could very well be a passing of the torch season at JGR.
AC: I’m inclined to agree with you, though my Truex fandom makes that hard to say out loud. I’ll just type it instead. I think because Bell still looks so young, we forget that this will be his 5th Cup Series season. That almost makes him a veteran at this point! I think he continues to build on his successes and we’ll see him win multiple times this year. What about Denny Hamlin, has the window closed for him? I know we see this question every year, and while I’m sure he’s sick of it, I do believe the question is warranted. Will he ever catch that elusive championship?
LM: Has the window closed, and will he ever get a championship are two different answers in my estimation. I don’t think the window is closed. I think it’s open for another season or two. However, given this format and his inability to close the deal thus far in his career, I will never bet on him winning the championship. I just don’t see it.
AC: I appreciate what he’s doing for the sport with his podcast, but I also wonder if it’s serving as a distraction for him. I started to wonder near the end of last season if he was racing a bit differently, almost as though he was looking for ways to create content on the podcast, rather than going for the wins. I could be wrong, but I also think the podcast is good for the sport. Who’s the worst finisher on JGR this year?
LM: Denny does feel like he might be trying to play a wrestling heel at various moments. Who will bring up the rear at JGR in 2024? Well, usually when it’s an even year Martin Truex Jr takes a step back for whatever reason, so I think he’ll be the lowest finishing driver at JGR in what I predict will be his final full-time season.
AC: Interesting! I think my money is still on Ty Gibbs being the back of the JGR crew, but that’s more a comment on the consistency of the team as a whole, rather than an indictment of Ty Gibbs. They’ll be an interesting group to keep an eye on this season.
Stay tuned for our final instalment of the Team Previews Series - Hendrick Motorsports is up tomorrow to finish up January!