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.”