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Friday, August 19, 2011

Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin taking different engine paths at Joe Gibbs Racing

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- An interesting storyline is developing at Joe Gibbs Racing, where two different paths are being taken in the engine department.
After it was announced last week that Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota Racing Development will join forces in a single engine program to build NASCAR Toyota units in 2012, Denny Hamlin announced he would immediately move to a TRD engine, and is racing one at MIS this week.
Friday at MIS, Kyle Busch said his team is sticking with JGR engines this year, and have had only one blown engine this year. He said the merger of the engine shops is more about the fact that JGR has done no research on fuel injection, which is coming in next season, and TRD has. So it just made sense to stay with JGR engines this year.
What happens now will be interesting.
If Kyle continues to run well and Denny’s TRD engines do not perform well, what will that mean heading into 2012?
If the reverse happens (something Kyle obviously doesn’t want to happen), there will likely be more optimism heading into 2012.
This two-prong approach in the engine department at JGR is definitely unique in the sport, and I’m curious to see how it all plays out.
If one works better than the other, I’m guessing all the Gibbs teams will get on the same page before the season comes to an end, especially if engines affect how Kyle or Denny are performing in the Chase.

No more Kimis plan for Kyle
Kyle Busch said Friday that Formula 1 champ Kimi Raikonnen, who drove his truck earlier this year, has no current plans to return, though he is welcome back if he wants to do more races with Kyle’s truck team.
“There no plan for the future with Kimi” … haven’t heard from his people,” Kyle said. “We’d love to have Kimi back. If we wanted to come back and run a few races, we’d certainly put him in the right situation”

Menard not surprised by success
Many people have been surprised by the success of Paul Menard this year, but don’t count Menard in that group.
“No, I haven’t surprised myself. I’ve been racing for a long time and I know what I am capable of. I’ve just struggled being in the right situation and I feel really comfortable where I am at right now,” Menard said Friday at MIS. “I am surrounded by great people. They definitely pick me up when I am down.”

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