Kyle Busch’s expectations of teammates? ‘Do what you need to do’

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Kyle Busch’s expectations of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates from this point on are simple.

“Race hard. Go for the win. Do what you need to do,’’ he said.

It’s the last part he had an issue with a week ago at Martinsville Speedway.

Busch’s patience wore thin when he and Matt Kenseth could not get by teammate Denny Hamlin late in the race as Jimmie Johnson pulled away to win. Hamlin finished third, Kenseth fourth and Busch fifth.

“We’re letting the 48 win this race,’’ Busch radioed his team. “You got to be (expletive) kidding me.’’

Busch remained upset after the race.

“We worked so good together, we gave the 48 car the win today,’’ he said. “That’s how good JGR is.’’

Car owner Joe Gibbs met with all four drivers this week to work through last weekend’s issues.

“The reason Denny did what he did is because now he has a third-place finish … which is the best of Matt and I if there was a tiebreaker situation,’’ Busch said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. “That’s what Denny was looking for. I get it. I understand it. I didn’t in the time frame in which we were racing. I was more so focused on one of us going to get the win and try to keep all of us eligible for Homestead.

“Denny did what he needed to do for the 11 team, which is respectable and understandable.’’

Hamlin is familiar with the tiebreaker system after advancing to this round by a tiebreaker (a third-place finish at Talladega) over Austin Dillon.

“This format obviously lends itself to a different situation than maybe in years past and maybe I was expecting a little bit different than what transpired in the race on Sunday,’’ Busch said. “We talked. Forgive and forget, move on.’’

This isn’t the first time Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have had issues on the track. The most notable example came at Richmond in April when Edwards bumped Busch out of the lead on the last lap to win that race.

“If you go back and watch throughout the year, we race each other hard,’’ Edwards said Friday. “There’s teamwork as much as you can have teamwork, but we’re competitors and we race each other very hard in that you’re going to have times when people are frustrated and that’s part of it.

“What we have as a group is something that I think is really special. I can tell you my three teammates have made me a better teammate and I’m grateful for that. When we have issues, we get right to it and we resolve it. I would do anything for my teammates, and I feel they would do the same. Yeah, we get frustrated with each other, but you get frustrated with everybody on the race track.’’

With every position critical and two races left before the championship field is set, it will be more difficult for teammates to help each other. Johnson’s Martinsville win leaves three spots left for the title race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That guarantees that all four Gibbs cars won’t be racing for a crown later this month.

With that in mind, teamwork can only go so far.

“I think our teamwork at Joe Gibbs Racing is second to none,’’ Kenseth said Friday. “I’ve had a lot of great teammates, none any better than what I have now, that’s for sure. Everybody is really, really competitive and wants to win.

“Our goal was to have four cars at Homestead and now there’s only three spots left. Every week we talk about what we can do to help each other, and make things better but we also realize when they drop the green on Sunday, it’s one against 39 and have to get the best finish we can for our respective teams.”

Martins Motorsports adds sponsorship to No. 44 Xfinity car

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Martins Motorsports announced Tuesday that it has renewed a partnership with Gilreath Farms Red Angus for the 2020 Xfinity Series.

Gilreath Farms and AAN Adjusters, which also is owned by Ken Gilreath, will be the primary sponsor of the No. 44 Xfinity car for 25 races this season. Gilreath Farms sponsored Martins for a race at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2018 when Martins drove for BJ McLeod Motorsports.

“Having Gilreath Farms Red Angus on the car again is special,” Martins said in a statement. “This is really where my partnership with Ken started in 2018, so to see his commitment to us this year…I mean I’ve said it before, it completely changes our entire outlook for this season. It’s really special.”

The first race for the Red Angus Chevrolet will be at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Truck Series playoffs expands to 10 teams

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The playoffs for the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series will expand from eight to 10 drivers in 2020, NASCAR announced Tuesday.

Two teams will be eliminated after the first round and four eliminated after second round.

How each round of the playoffs will unfold:

Round of 10: World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Bristol Motor Speedway

Round of 8: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Martinsville Speedway

Championship 4: Phoenix Raceway

“Expanding the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series playoff field to 10 is a win-win for drivers, teams and, most importantly, the passionate fans who support our Gander Trucks,” Truck Series Managing Director Brad Moran said in a statement from NASCAR. “This will only increase the competitive intensity this series offers, as more drivers and teams vie for one of the most coveted championships in all of racing.”

Had there been 10 drivers allowed in last year’s playoffs, ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes and Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Harrison Burton would have gotten those spots. KBM did not have any drivers in the playoffs.

The first two races of the playoffs, at Gateway and Canada, will feature the new pit road rules for standalone races in the Truck and Xfinity Series.

Reports: Daniel Suarez to drive for Gaunt Brothers Racing

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Multiple reports state that Daniel Suarez will drive the No. 96 Cup car for Gaunt Brothers Racing in 2020.

The team has not made any an announcement.

Toby Christie reported Friday at tobychristie.com that a deal was done for Suarez to drive the full Cup season for Gaunt Brothers Racing. Motorsport.com reported Monday that Suarez would join Gaunt Brothers Racing for the full season.

Suarez would replace Parker Kligerman, who confirmed to NBC Sports on Friday that he would not return to the No. 96 car this season.

This would be the fourth Cup season for Suarez. He drove for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017-18 before being replaced by Martin Truex Jr. Suarez moved to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2019 and was replaced after the season by rookie Cole Custer.

Suarez continues to seek his first Cup win. He has eight top-five and 32 top-10 finishes in 108 Cup starts. He won the 2016 Xfinity title, a year after winning rookie of the year honors in that series.

Gaunt Brothers Racing debuted in 2017, running one race with D.J. Kennington. The team ran 22 races the following year between Kligerman, D.J. KenningtonJeffrey Earnhardt and Jesse Little. The team ran 15 races last year with Drew Herring running once along with Kligerman’s 14 starts.

HighPoint to sponsor Chase Briscoe in multiple Xfinity Series races

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Chase Briscoe will have a new sponsor in 2020 in HighPoint.com, a customer service and technology solutions company, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Tuesday.

Briscoe, who returns for a second full-time Xfinity Series season with SHR, will have HighPoint as a primary sponsor on his No. 98 Ford for 10 races. The Sparta, New Jersey-based company will make its debut with the Feb. 15 season opener at Daytona.

For all other races, HighPoint will be an associate sponsor.

“Even though we race stock cars, there’s nothing stock about what we do,” Briscoe said in a press release. “The science of our cars is impressive, but the technology that goes into building our Ford Mustangs and then making them perform is even more advanced. Our IT needs are pretty complex, and we demand a lot from our technology every day, whether it’s at the shop or at the track. HighPoint is more than just a sponsor – they’re a partner that helps us perform.”

As part of the deal, HighPoint will be the team’s official IT solutions provider.

“Walk around our race shop during the week and the garage area on a race weekend and you’ll see how our race cars and our entire industry relies on technology,” Mike Verlander, SHR’s vice president of sales and marketing, said in a press release. “From engine diagnostics to fuel-mileage calculations, our business is dependent on service and technology solutions. Every company needs what HighPoint provides, and we’ll work diligently to facilitate those introductions.”