NASCAR Charlotte Notebook: Joe Gibbs Racing Hopes To Make Statement, But Not Until Sunday

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Kyle Busch (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kyle Busch (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

CONCORD, N.C. – It’s all well and good that Joe Gibbs Racing placed all four of the organization’s drivers in the top eight for the start of Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 (on NBC at 7 p.m. ET) at Charlotte Motor Speedway—including two on the front row.

But a strong performance in qualifying won’t mean much if JGR doesn’t back it up in the first race in the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Kyle Busch, who will start beside teammate and Coors Light pole winner Matt Kenseth knows that only too well.

“Qualifying is not a statement,” Busch said on Thursday night, after putting his No. 18 Toyota on the front row. “The race is more of a statement. You have to have a good race, put it all together. You have to have fast race cars, good engines and good guys on pit road that give you fast pit stops. Putting it all together is certainly what the 4 (Kevin Harvick) bunch did last week (in winning at Dover and salvaging a spot in the Chase), and they proved that they’re obviously a championship contender.”

“We knew that they were, but they certainly put it to everybody. We were a distant second, but third was distant on us, and I look forward to this weekend, hoping that we can be better than all the rest of the guys and put on a 4-car type performance with the 18 car this weekend.”

If he does, that will be a statement. If not, the qualifying positions will soon be forgotten.


A disappointing qualifying effort left Martin Truex Jr. 15th on the grid for Saturday night’s Bank of America 500—as one of only three Chase drivers who will start outside the top 12.

“We just guessed wrong on the track,” Truex said. “We thought it was going to go one way, and it went the opposite. Our first run, we were kind of caught out and had to make big adjustments. Of course, you have (one more) run on your tires than everybody (else).

“We made good gains, and our last run was by far our best—just that extra run on tires really hurts you, and we still didn’t get it right. Just guessed wrong on the track—you’ll have that sometimes.”

When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars hit the track for Friday’s first practice, however, Truex seemed to have his issues sorted out. His No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet was fourth fastest in the session, behind only Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman.


The NASCAR Foundation announced on Thursday the four finalists for the 2015 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award presented by Nationwide, which honors volunteers from across the country who dedicate themselves to children’s causes in their communities.

Bob Bowler of Charlotte, N.C., earned the nickname “Mr. Special Olympics” for his 31 years of service with Special Olympics North Carolina; Stephanie Decker of Sellersburg, Ind., started a foundation bearing her name after losing both her legs protecting her children from debris during a tornado; Decker’s foundation encourages children with prosthetics to participate in sports and helps provide access to state-of-the-art prosthetic technology.

Carl Flatley of Dunedin, Fla., founded the Sepsis Alliance after losing his daughter to the systemic infection; the organization’s mission is to increase awareness and encourage medical facilities to establish sepsis protocols. Jeff Hanson of Overland Park, Kan., who is legally blind, has raised more than $250,000 for the Children’s Tumor Foundation and more than $1.3 million for charities worldwide.

To learn more about each of the four finalists, visit Voting for the award is open until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 3 at

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