This year, they had three teams make the Round of 8, but only one managed to advance into the Championship 4.
His secret weapon? Likely the crew chief sitting atop the pitbox. Adam Stevens has led his drivers to the title race in seven of the last ten years. He’s won the championship twice with Kyle Busch.
“I think, first of all, Adam, our crew chief, is really something we think,” explained Coach Gibbs. “We think he’s special. I know Christopher would tell you that. Adam Stevens. He’s just been great at directing things. Taking a young guy like Christopher, for us to be in there two years in a row, it’s just a huge deal, a huge accomplishment.”
Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images
Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, MAC Tools Toyota Camry and Adam Stevens, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry
Simply making it to the Championship 4 in the current playoff format is considered a huge accomplishment, and JGR is the only organization to make the cut every single year. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., and now Bell have all represented JGR in the title-decider.
“I think in general, if you kind of look at whose won championships, who gets into the Final 4, I think it does reward really, really good cars that had a heck of a year,” said Gibbs. “You just can’t get there. Our two veteran guys kind of showed how hard it is. There’s so much can happen to you.
“You take Martin, puncture a tire at Kansas. How does that happen? The issues we had at Homestead. I think it’s a lot to overcome. You got to really put together a great year. In particular, in the Playoffs, because you can have one bad race and put yourself in real trouble on any of those three-race segments of our playoffs.”
Always a contender, no matter the format
Joe Gibbs Racing has won a Cup Series championship under the full-season points format, the original Chase for the Cup format, and the current knockout-style playoffs. Only Hendrick Motorsports has done the same. The veteran team owner spoke on how “extremely hard” the current system makes it. You could win 35 of the first 36 races, score max points and still conceivably end the year fourth in standings.
“There’s so much on the line,” said Gibbs, speaking on the present format. “I go all the way back to when…