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“I think Denny and Kyle really like having him, hearing what he has to say,” J.D. Gibbs said. “On the race track, he just has a gift. So I think it’s really been a blessing for Joe Gibbs Racing to have him join our team. We look forward to a great future.”

Behind the scenes, JGR has also worked extremely hard to overcome shortcomings.

The move this year by NASCAR to the new Gen-6 race car was a clean slate for everyone, and JGR seized the opportunity to get out front in development. Employees at the shop studied the new specifications and built new cars around the new weight rules, while the crews worked hard to understand the new rear camber rules and how it affected the rear tires.

It’s been clear all season that JGR did its homework: The team has won five of 11 Cup races between Kenseth and Busch, who both rank inside the top-eight in the Sprint Cup standings. Hamlin missed four races with his injury but still ranks 27th, one spot behind Talladega winner David Ragan, and ahead of Danica Patrick and Labonte.

In the Nationwide Series, Busch has won five of the eight races he’s entered and Sadler and Vickers are both inside the top-five in points.

It’s been seven years since Stewart gave JGR its last Cup title, and the team has gone down swinging several times since with both Busch and Hamlin.

It’s too early to tell if this year will be the season JGR puts together a full season, but the performance is high right now.

“I think we have been strong in the past, but I think what we’ve learned over all these years is you have to be consistent,” J.D. Gibbs said. “You can’t start off too strong. To me, it’s just that consistency. I think our guys really get that at the shop.”