Prior to Saturday night's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Matt Kenseth had signed a contract extension which would keep Kenseth at Joe Gibbs Racing for a "number of years." The team also announced that Kenseth's sponsor, Dollar General, would increase their number of races from 27 races to 30 races starting in the 2015 season, replacing departing sponsor The Home Depot.
Team owner Joe Gibbs said that Kenseth has been an important part of the organization since he has come over to Joe Gibbs Racing which was prior to the 2013 season. Kenseth is a 15 year veteran of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The other two drivers at the organization Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin both have long careers ahead of them in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Kyle Busch recently signed a multi-year extension at Joe Gibbs Racing as did Denny Hamlin, who signed an extension during the 2012 season. Both drivers have been extremely successful and appear to be in good graces at the organization.
Add that to the recent rumors that have circulated that veteran Carl Edwards will be going to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015 driving a fourth car for the team. If that rumor is true that means Joe Gibbs Racing is in pretty good shape as far as drivers are concerned. With the limit of four teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, one has to wonder about the domino effect that this will have at Joe Gibbs Racing.
The team has several candidates for Sprint Cup Series rides in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series that could potentially be out of luck to move up to the Sprint Cup Series if Edwards is signed. Those drivers could feel the impact because of Kenseth's contract extension.
First, there is Elliott Sadler. The veteran from Emporia, Virginia has 435 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts and three career Sprint Cup Series victories. Sadler has been a full-time participant in the NASCAR Nationwide Series since the 2011 season when he signed with Kevin Harvick Incorporated to run two seasons with the team. At the time Sadler took the ride after advice from former teammate Dale Jarrett who did a similar thing in his career. Jarrett eventually got back to the Sprint Cup Series and would have a great career winning three Daytona 500's and a Sprint Cup Series championship.
There is no doubt Sadler ultimately would like to get back to the Sprint Cup Series.
"I really feel like the opportunity over there (Joe Gibbs Racing) will be good," Sadler said at the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series banquet to NASCAR.com writer David Newton. "I want another shot at winning Cup races, of being a part of the Chase."
It's a similar situation to what Sam Hornish Jr is facing as well. Hornish has made 131 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts in his career and would eventually like to get back to the Sprint Cup Series. Hornish is currently running a part-time schedule at Joe Gibbs Racing in the #54 Toyota. Hornish is another driver who people could see getting back into the Sprint Cup Series real soon but it's unlikely he'll do it at Joe Gibbs Racing considering there is a full house there if Carl Edwards goes there like it is assumed.
Another driver that could feel the impact of Kenseth's contract extension is Joe Gibbs Racing Development driver Darrell Wallace Jr. Wallace is currently driving in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Wallace appears to be the next driver in line to take a big time ride at Joe Gibbs Racing. Wallace is a 20-year-old driver and may be ready for the Sprint Cup Series in a few years. However with the new contract extensions signed at Joe Gibbs Racing it may be awhile until Wallace drives a Sprint Cup Series car at Joe Gibbs Racing.
With the four car limit in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series it makes for an interesting dilemma for Joe Gibbs Racing. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for all three of the drivers mentioned. Will we see some drivers move to get a better opportunity at the Sprint Cup Series? What will Joe Gibbs Racing's NASCAR Nationwide Series teams look like in a few seasons?
It's an interesting process going on at Joe Gibbs Racing and one has to wonder how much will change for the organization and where these drivers next moves will be.
- Sam Hornish Jr Chance at Joe Gibbs Racing Could Be His Last
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- Matt Kenseth Wins Pole for the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway
- Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin Win Budweiser Duel at Daytona Races as Daytona 500 Field is Set
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