CUP: JGR Close, But Can’t Seal Deal

Joe Gibbs Racing kept two streaks intact this weekend at Auto Club Speedway, only one of which the team was happy about.

On Saturday, Joey Logano won the Royal Purple 300, giving JGR eight consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series victories at the 2-mile California oval.

And on Sunday, Kyle Busch led 80 of 129 laps in the rain-shortened Auto Club 400, but finished second to Tony Stewart, meaning ACS remains the only track where JGR hasn’t won a Sprint Cup race.

It wasn’t for lack of trying.

Denny Hamlin qualified on the pole and set fast speeds in both of Saturday’s practices, but neither he nor Busch could hold off Stewart, who won his second race of the year.

To not win was doubly frustrating for JGR given that ACS is the home track for TRD, U.S.A., Toyota’s racing division here, but without question, the cars of Busch and Hamlin were exceptionally fast all race long.

Hamlin was running third when the day’s only caution came out for rain on Lap 125, but Stewart faked like he was going to dive into the pits then pulled out and stayed on the track at the last minute. Hamlin was committed to pit road and came in, the end result being that he finished 11th instead of third.

“To lose spots like that because you pitted is what makes you feel bad,” said race-winner Stewart, who Grubb worked for from 2009-11.

Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for You can follow him online at