The NASCAR Cup Series season doesn’t begin until February 20 with the Daytona 500, but teams are already preparing to pursue wins. Joe Gibbs Racing is among this group and can reach a huge milestone with only six trips to Victory Lane.
Joe Gibbs will enter the 2022 season with 194 wins as a Cup Series owner, split among a multitude of drivers over 30 years. If his four drivers — Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex Jr. — combine to win six races, they will help JGR reach 200 and become the second active organization to reach this mark. Petty Enterprises has 268 wins, but the organization has not been active in the Cup Series since the 2008 season.
Hendrick Motorsports currently has the most wins in the NASCAR Cup Series with 280 while Stewart-Haas Racing (66), Team Penske (130), and Richard Childress Racing (109) have to make considerable strides in the coming years to come within reach of 200 wins. JGR can become the second active organization to hit the major milestone, something that appears to be likely after the four drivers combined for nine wins in 2021.
Dale Jarrett won the first Cup Series race for JGR back in 1993. He kicked off the year by winning the Daytona 500 in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet. Hamlin was the last driver to reach Victory Lane for the organization, winning his second race of the 2021 season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 26 and taking the organization to 194.
Several JGR Drivers Have Nearly Reached 10-Win Seasons
Gibbs has employed a wide assortment of drivers, a list that includes Hall of Famers in Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, and Dale Jarrett. Others, such as Busch and Hamlin, will likely join this esteemed group after their retirements.
While all of these drivers have reached Victory Lane a multitude of times and helped Gibbs win five Cup Series championships, none have posted 10 wins in a single season. Though multiple have nearly achieved this goal.
Busch headlines the group of JGR drivers with two separate eight-win seasons (2008, 2018). Hamlin also has an eight-win season of his own (2010). Hamlin (2020), Truex (2019), and Matt Kenseth (2013) have all posted seven wins in a single season while contending for championships. Stewart finished the 2000 season with six wins.
5 is the Magic Number for Championship Hopefuls
Six wins will help JGR reach 200 as an organization, but Gibbs may not want a single driver to account for all of them. The reason is that he still wants to end the season with the Bill France Cup, and none of his drivers have delivered a championship while winning more than five races in a season.
Labonte, the man who delivered the organization’s first Cup Series championship, won four races during the 2000 season while his teammate in Stewart won six times. Labonte ended the season 265 points ahead of Dale Earnhardt. Stewart then won the 2002 championship after reaching Victory Lane three total times.
Interestingly enough, the other three drivers that won championships for JGR all did so with five-win seasons. Stewart captured the checkered flag five times in 2005 while holding off Greg Biffle in the standings. Busch won his two championships (2015, 2019) with five trips to Victory Lane in each season. He also capped off each year with a win in the championship race.