It was bound to happen at some point. A dry spell is eventually going to finally come to a halt. The wait, the anticipation, and the disappointment, all finally will end.
Joe Gibbs Racing has experienced that in 2017 and then some. Since the start of the year, none of the four teams saw the exuberance of being in victory lane. It all started when one of their own suddenly decided it was time to walk away, while life was still good. A rookie took over, with no seat time until the cars came to Daytona.
What happened to the teams?
Strong cars, excellent drivers, intelligent teams…what exactly went wrong? Nothing truly went wrong, but rather just some bad luck.
Sooner or later, one or all the teams were going to have a strong run, and one of them finally could seal the deal and put a victory sticker on the window. At a track known as the “Magic Mile,” one of those teams finally found a way to make it happen..
On this day at New Hampshire, Toyota was the lead brand all afternoon. It was clear that the foreign make was the one to take charge and the one that needed to be taken down in order for someone else to feel the joy of victory. Not this day, because a special delivery was in order. The delivery came via a purple and orange Camry, carrying the FedEx colors, and a No. 11 on the door panels. Denny Hamlin was the one that finally found a way to get the former NFL coach, Super Bowl champion, and NASCAR championship owner to victory lane this season, by holding off one of the hottest drivers the year has produced.
That victory was one that a single participant gambled on, and won. A first for the team, and a first for the participant, means the standings have taken a bit of a jumble. Let’s look at the positioning after the Overton’s 301:
Ashley Hobbs (632) Martin Truex Jr. finished 3rd –  14
Rob Tiongson (631) Clint Bowyer finished 7th –  7
Misan Akuya (604) Kevin Harvick finished 5th –  15
Penny Whitecotton (568) Kevin Harvick finished 5th –  6
Patti Rodisch (539) Chase Elliott finished 11th –  14
Sal Sigala Jr. (533) Kyle Busch finished 12th –  11
Ashley Hull (530) Joey Logano finished 37th –  12
Ashley McCubbin (527) Denny Hamlin WON –  9
Billy Fellin (525) Joey Logano finished 37th –  9
Dalton Hastings (523) Kurt Busch finished 8th –  3
Klarissa Mitchell (522) Matt Kenseth finished 4th –  0
Dustin Parks (508) Matt Kenseth finished 4th –  8
Rob Blount (499) Joey Logano finished 37th –  3
Next Race: When racing at New Hampshire, the track is flat, sweeping, and leaves a few grooves to run, especially with the tire treatment the surface was given leading into the weekend. The next track is still flat, but on a very different scale. The infield is so large, many tracks can fit just in the grassy area.
In May, this venue held a gathering of 33 open-wheel cars, where the winner got to take a sip of milk.
When NASCAR brings 40 cars here, the winner has for the last 21 years done something much different. It’s not milk that touches the winner’s lips, but rather rubber, and concrete. It’s a taste that is a yard long, but so greatly savored among all the drivers that have done so.
Next Sunday is a visit to the racing capital of the world, Indianapolis, and the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It’s going to be very difficult to decide on a winner, but the participants need to decide, because it means they too will kiss the bricks. Have those picks ready by Thursday, July 20, at 10 p.m. ET for the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400.