At the end of 2017 Joe Gibbs will have a major problem to try to solve. The problem that will be confronted by Gibbs at that time is a problem that many race teams owners would love to be dealing with! Just as a review let’s look at what Joe Gibbs will be confronted with when the checkered flag flies at Homestead this November.
At the end of 2015 Furniture Row Racing ended their affiliation with Chevrolet and their alliance with Richard Childress Racing. Beginning with the offloading of their car at Daytona in 2016 FRR commenced their new relationship with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing.
Fast forward to the Fall of 2016 and Barney Visser, owner of Furniture Row Racing, announces that his organization will be expanding to two race teams beginning in 2017. With that announcement comes many monumental challenges. The first and foremost challenge is to find a quality race car driver for that team. It just so happens that Joe Gibbs Racing has an extra driver in the name of one of NASCAR’s newest young guns, Erik Jones, and no available seat to put him into at JGR for 2017. In the Fall of 2016 JGR and FRR strike an agreement for Jones to to loaned out to FRR to be the new driver of the second team for 2017. One of Visser’s major organizational problems was now solved in the stroke of a pen!
Now the question that is begged to asked is what will happen to Erik Jones at the end of the 2017
There is a NASCAR rule that limits race organizations to a maximum of four race teams. Joe Gibbs Racing has the maximum four race teams in their organization presently, so there appears that “there is no room at the inn” for Erik Jones at JGR. Therein lies the problem for Joe Gibbs Racing, five quality drivers four race cars.
Let’s look at the four drivers that are currently employed with JGR. Denny Hamlin, the driver of the JGR No.11 Toyota, is 36 years old and is under contract to JGR through the end of the end of this season. Kyle Busch, the 2015 Sprint Cup Champion and driver of the No.18 Toyota, is 31 years old and is under contract to JGR through, at least ,2019. The newest driver in the JGR stable is 37 year old Carl Edwards and the driver of the No.19 Toyota, who is under contract through the end of the 2017. The fourth driver is the 44 year old 2003 Winston Cup Champion driver of the No.20 Toyota, Matt Kenseth, who’s contract is up at the end of this season, as well.
Three of the present four JGR drivers’ contracts expire at the end of this season, Hamlin, Edwards, and Kenseth. What decision will JGR come up with to solve the problem? Will JGR let one of their present four drivers find another employer and put Erik Jones in one of that vacated cockpit? Could JGR come up with yet another deal to loan Jones out to another race team, or extend the terms of the Jones loan to FRR?
There are so many possibilities that could arise from this JGR problem. WOMR will be paying close attention to this interesting story as the season unfolds!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!