Breakout year in NASCAR for Toyota, which wants another title – Charlotte Observer
This is the first in a series of 2016 NASCAR team manufacturer previews. We begin with Toyota:
What a year it was for Toyota. Thanks to Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing, the manufacturer won its first Cup championship. With JGR continuing to be at the forefront of the sport, it’s likely not the final time Toyota will win a title, either.
Joe Gibbs Racing
Busch’s march to the title, despite having missed the first 11 races of the season, was the season’s top story. It’s hard to think that he won’t be favored to make it two in a row in 2016. JGR will continue to boast the strongest and most consistent four-driver lineup of any team in the sport, with Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth all joining Busch in last season’s Chase.
Hamlin will be healthy after off-season knee surgery, while Kenseth (it is hoped) should have all the Chase drama with Joey Logano behind him. Edwards finished a respectable fifth in his first season with the team. Earlier this week, the team announced it was changing around crew chiefs, with Dave Rogers moving from Hamlin’s team to Edwards and Mike Wheeler taking over Hamlin’s team. Darian Grubb, who was Edwards’ crew chief last season, is “exploring several opportunities” for 2016, according to the team. Story worth following: Hamlin’s contract at JGR expires after the 2016 season.
Furniture Row Racing
After Martin Truex Jr. made it to the final four at Homestead, single-car team Furniture Row will switch from Chevy to Toyota in 2016. The team, which is based in Denver, Colo., will have a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. Story worth following: Will be this be the final season that Furniture Row runs as one-team operation?
This Charlotte-based team didn’t have much success last season with J.J. Yeley, Jeb Burton and Matt DiBenedetto combining for exactly zero top-10s and five laps led. Story worth following: The team still hasn’t announced its setup for 2016.