Friday, December 9, 2011

Darian Grubb exactly what Joe Gibbs Racing needed

After winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship and losing his job in the same week, Darian Grubb has found a new pit box for 2012.

Grubb will be the crew chief for Denny Hamlin’s #11 team after Stewart-Haas Racing released him following his championship run with Tony Stewart. Joe Gibbs Racing released Hamlin's former crew chief, Mike Ford, on Tuesday.

Grubb's presence could make a huge difference in the performance of not only the #11 team, but also the entire Joe Gibbs Racing organization.

This wasn’t a stellar season for Gibbs by any means. Sure, two of his three cars made the Chase, but neither Hamlin nor Kyle Busch ever posed much of a threat to the final championship contenders.

Joe Gibbs Racing is one of the big-time organizations. There are haves and have-nots in the sport, and Gibbs is certainly one of the haves. But, this year it was on the lower end of the haves, especially after Hamlin narrowly missed winning the championship and beating Jimmie Johnson just one year ago.

Many people in the sport had high expectations coming into the season for Hamlin, as well as the #18 and #20 Gibbs cars driven by Busch and Joey Logano, respectively.

Hamlin was supposed to strongly contend for the title this season after finishing second and having eight wins in 2010.

This was supposed to be the year of the new Kyle Busch, and this was supposed to be the year Logano became a star in the Cup series and contend for a Chase spot after he posted five top-10s in the final six races to close out 2010.

Instead, Hamlin finished ninth in the points standings with only one win. Busch finished 12th, or last in the Chase, and got himself in enough trouble for NASCAR to park him for the Chase race at Texas and his sponsor to pull its logos off the car for the final two weeks of the season.

Logano never even contended. He finished 24th in the points, nearly lost his job to Carl Edwards and his crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, might be looking to leave the #20 team.

So here comes Darian Grubb, the defending championship crew chief who spent several years working on the #48 team and won the 2006 Daytona 500 with Johnson while regular crew chief Chad Knaus was suspended.

Grubb won’t bring the Hendrick Motorspots books with him to Gibbs, but he will bring in some outside knowledge that is bound to help an organization that struggled with bad-handling cars and engine issues for much of the season.

While Grubb is surely relieved to have found a crew chief job with a high-caliber race team, Gibbs should be more relieved to have found a person with Grubb’s knowledge and experience to help right the ship at JGR.

One person doesn’t usually come in a change an entire organization, but Grubb could be a huge step toward getting JGR back to where it was just a year ago. His hire could also be a big help to Toyota teams, in general, and they need help.

Toyota, which fielded nine full-time cars this season, finished third in the manufacturer’s standings and had just one more win than the five victories scored by the three full-time Dodge teams.

Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota had a lot of work to do this offseason to become competitive again on a regular basis, but signing Grubb will go a long way toward getting Toyota back to the front.


  1. JGR needs more than a new Crew Chief for the #11.

    All 3 drivers need a wakeing up , Denny had that GEE we won too often attitude in 2010 , see what happened in 2011 ( LOL )

    Kyle had the I am the BEST and will win REGARDLESS attitude , see what he ended up doing .

    And Joey is still wandering around in HOME DEPOT looking for customer service to fix things.

    Let Zippy out of his contract as #20 Crew Chief , he is not :) at JGR anymore

  2. who is the third full time Dodge team?

  3. What has DODGE have to do with this story or the first posting ?

  4. DODGE was referenced in the article about # of wins in 2011.

    Other DODGE TEAMS , Robby Gordon #7, Keselowskis brother once in awhile

  5. Robby Gordon's #7 was the other full-time Dodge team. The Dodge teams were referenced to show how poor of a season Toyota had since it has three times as many full-time cars as Dodge, but just one more win.