To say these are interesting times in the life of Joe Gibbs Racing is to understate the case.
As matters currently stand, with eight races remaining to the Chase for the Sprint Cup cutoff, JGR is the only team in the Cup garage with three drivers qualified for the postseason. Denny Hamlin is seventh in the standings, and Kyle Busch (12th) and Joey Logano (14th) currently own the two wild-card positions.
Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is the apparent upcoming announcement that Matt Kenseth will join the team next season and how that might impact Logano, who appears to be talking to other teams in his contract year.
And Hamlin? He has a bad back, although it seems to be better.
A wild time. And a wild-card time.
Logano has responded from a mediocre first half of the season to jump into the wild-card talk. He’s currently in based on his Pocono victory.
“I think at this point, as many guys as have one win that are this close in points right now, I think another win is going to be a very important thing to get,” Logano said. “Not a better weekend than this weekend to get one. Obviously, being my home area here (he’s from Middletown, CT), it would be real cool to win here.
“We're doing everything we can to get our Home Depot car as good as it needs to be and try to get one. Like I said, these wins are going to be super important right now."
Logano, Busch, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne each have one win in the race for the two Chase spots.
Logano is trying to stay in the Chase group while looking ahead to his status for next season.
“You want to be able to focus 100 percent on what you're doing,” he said. “Right now, trying to make the Chase. During the week, we're trying to figure out what my future is going to be, and I'm trying to
prepare myself for the weekend, and then when we get here, I put all that stuff in the back of my mind and then focus 100 percent on what I have going on this weekend in trying to win a race.
“I say it all the time – winning races will make all the other stuff come along a lot quicker. We're getting there slowly but surely."
Logano has been linked to talks with Penske Racing, but he would talk about his future only in generalities.
“Right now, we look at all our options out there in trying to do whatever we can do to have the best opportunity for my future,” he said. “That's talking to as many people as we can and seeing what's available."
Busch has had six straight sub-par races and has dropped from ninth to 12th in points.
“We need to get a win, for sure,” he said. “We also just need our finishing position to match how we're running. We can run pretty decent. We'd be in the top 10 in points if it wasn't for all the issues we've had.
“Sometimes things come in threes. Well, I've had two sets of threes – I've had six bad races in a row. We definitely have to change that around somehow, some way. Whatever needs to happen hopefully can happen here this weekend, and we can make this lucky number seven for us somehow."
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.