Two members of Joe Gibbs Racing will feature wildly different paint schemes during the NASCAR Cup Series playoff weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Craftsman Tools will sponsor both Denny Hamlin and Daniel Hemric while showcasing new schemes.
JGR tweeted out renderings of the stock cars on Tuesday, October 12, to announce the news. The team showed off the red and black Toyotas, which also featured white logos and door numbers. According to Jayski, this race marks the first time that Craftsman has sponsored both Hamlin and Hemric. The company has previously worked with Christopher Bell, Erik Jones, Hailie Deegan, and Ryan Preece among other drivers in all three national series.
Hemric will first put the red and black scheme on display during the Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 Xfinity Series race on Saturday, October 16 (3 p.m. ET). He will fight with his fellow drivers over 200 laps to contend for the win and potentially move on to the championship race. NBC will provide coverage.
Hamlin will then head to the 1.5-mile track on Sunday, October 17, for the Autotrader Echo Park Automotive 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBC). He will try to continue his streak of winning the first playoff race of each round, following victories in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hamlin Remains Above the Cutline Entering the Round of 8
While the driver of the No. 11 JGR Toyota Camry has already won twice in the playoffs, he does not have a massive cushion in the standings. He sits only seven points above the cutline entering the Round of Eight.
Remaining ahead of Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, and Brad Keselowski will not be an easy task. However, Hamlin has considerable success at the next three tracks, starting with Texas Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 11 has made 30 starts at the Fort Worth track, winning three times and finishing top-five a total of seven times.
Kansas Speedway, the second track in the Round of Eight, has served as the site of three other victories in Hamlin’s 26 starts. He also has a total of eight top-fives, including a runner-up behind Joey Logano in 2015’s playoff race.
The Round of Eight will come to a close at Martinsville Speedway, another track where Hamlin has multiple victories. The veteran has made 31 starts at the short track, winning five times, and finishing top-five a total of 16 times. This race will be the final opportunity for drivers to secure a spot in the championship race, and Hamlin will enter as one of the favorites.
Hemric Has To Gain Some Ground at Texas Motor Speedway
The driver of the No. 18 Toyota Supra is finishing out his final season with Joe Gibbs Racing before he moves full-time to Kaulig Racing in 2022. His goal is to capture the first championship of his Xfinity Series career, but he will have to chase down some big names early.
Hemric will enter the Round of Eight seeded fifth overall, per the NASCAR standings. He has 16 playoff points, one fewer than JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson and five fewer than JRM’s Justin Allgaier. Team Penske’s Austin Cindric (+28) and Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger (+34) both sit well above the cutline.
Hemric has not won during his Xfinity Series career, but he has posted top-five finishes at the three Round of Eight tracks. He has two at Texas Motor Speedway in five starts, two at Kansas Speedway in four starts, and one in his lone Martinsville Speedway start.