The Pit Box Press staff is back with another set of predictions, this time we’re talking about JGR!
In 2021, each JGR driver had at least one win and had two drivers in the Final Four. Will JGR be able to repeat this in 2022? Will 2022 be the season that Denny Hamlin finally closes the season out with a championship? Will Kyle Busch be able to bounce back from his frustrating 2021? Will Martin Truex Jr lead JGR’s charge like he did in 2021 with 4 wins or will he struggle with the Next Gen car? Will Christopher Bell be able to build on his success in 2021? What are the keys for JGR to succeed and what pitfalls should they be wary of?
Walker (@Walker_Skeeter): The day I start to doubt JGR is the day I’ll know I’ve officially lost my mind. I absolutely anticipate another big year, even with the launch of the Gen-7. The number of guys they’ll get in the final 4 again is basically a crapshoot, but I expect a good season for the organization. Yes. That’s all the analysis I’m gonna give about Denny Hamlin so as to not jinx it. I wholeheartedly believe Kyle Busch is going to have a bounceback year, in a big way. For all that people say about him, there’s no denying that he’s one of the three or four best drivers of the 2000s, and his poor performance was one of my least favorite storylines from last season. I’m calling for somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-6 wins and at least a round of 8 appearances. While I don’t think Truex will necessarily struggle, I don’t expect him to have a huge year or anything. I expect a good year mind you, probably a round of 8 caliber campaign – but he just isn’t one of those guys that I have pegged for having a phenomenal season. Then again he never really is, then he ends up doing it anyway, so what do I know? Christopher Bell is one of those guys that I think that hasn’t really even scratched the surface of how good he can really be. He’s had some good runs, sure, but I just KNOW there’s more there. I think moving to the Gen-7, putting all the drivers on the same footing as far as learning the cars will put him at more of an advantage than just about any driver not named Larson. I’m looking for a multi-win breakout year from Christopher Bell this season //// The key to their success just like every other team is figuring out the Gen-7, and in light of the apparent shortage of cars, keeping as many of them clean as possible. The main pitfall for me is simple – GET DENNY HAMLIN A BETTER CAR FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP 4. Do that, you’ve got a championship.
Taylor (@Mashtaylor22): I think they could because they were on a bit of a hot streak last season. It started early with Christopher Bell winning the Daytona Road Course so they will definitely be a threat this season. Since NASCAR is reinstating qualifying and practice I think that will only make the JGR cars stronger and then be able to start fresh with the Next Gen. JGR will be a threat next season how big of one only time will tell.
Kate (@RacingKate): I’m going to go out of a limb here. I think JGR will not have the same type of success as they did in 2021 where every driver once at least once and two drivers made it to the Final Four. I think JGR will struggle with the Next Gen. At points last year, it felt like JGR was in a downward trend and I think that is going to continue this year. I think they’re going to struggle to nail the setup. I think tensions will start to run high, especially in the Busch camp. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kyle Busch step away from Cup in 2023 if he struggles in 2022. Honestly, I could see that for Denny Hamlin and MTJ as well. Like HMS, the keys to success or struggles in 2022 will be nailing the set up. It all comes down to the set up.
Phil (@philenespanol)- 2022 is going to be a make-or-break year for JGR. While all four drivers made the playoffs in 2021, it didn’t come with the same success as normal for those four teams. The average age over at JGR is 36.5. You’ve got MTJ, a former champion whom it seems his time left is on a year-to-year basis at this point. You’ve got Denny, who is still competitive but also has a race team of his own to look after. Kyle Busch didn’t have the best stretch of years between 20-21, but we can chalk that up to lost practice time and car changes. Christopher Bell is the baby of the bunch and picked up his first win last year. There are still a few question marks around him and being consistent. Like all teams, I feel like I’ll know where they stand at least after the first 10 races. Denny seems to have adapted to the Next Gen car already, as he’s been at almost every test. Once we get to that stretch of tracks that both Kyle and MTJ like, we will have our answers on them. I don’t see two Gibbs cars in the Final 4 this year, but I do at least see all of them make it to the round of 8.
Josh (@JoshuaLeeHost): I believe if anybody will hit the ground running with the NextGen car it’s JGR. Looking back to 2013 and the introduction of the Gen 6, Matt Kenneth was a dominant force that season driving for Coach Gibbs. Not only that, but Kyle Busch won the first championship with the high downforce package in 2019. Needless to say, JGR has a good track record with adapting to new rules and cars and I believe 2022 will be no exception.
Garrett (@dic_banjo9): Ah, JGR…my old nemesis. As a fan of Chase Elliott it should be no secret that I have some, shall we say, bad blood with this organization. To that end, however, I have great respect for them and what they’ve done over the years in this sport. I think that in 2022, they will show their typical strength. I think with this new car, Kyle Busch will return to his top form and actually lead the series in wins, similar to how Jeff Gordon excelled with the COT back in 2007. Kyle will also edge out Kyle Larson for the regular-season championship and will join the three Hendrick drivers Larson, Elliott, and Byron in the Championship Four. I strongly believe that Busch will pull off the upset and win his third title in Phoenix, sending one of the all-time great sponsors in Mars, Inc. out in style. As for Martin Truex, Jr., I predict that he will have a good but not great season, stepping up the consistency he had last season but having one less win, with three. I think one of those three will be another Crown Jewel too, maybe two, as Truex will continue to be really good at Darlington and Charlotte for the 600, but Truex will falter in the Round of 8. I think that Christopher Bell will take another step forward this next season, winning two races, one being on a road course and the other at New Hampshire, really he should’ve won the race there last summer, not Aric Almirola. Bell will make the playoffs but will also fall out in the Round of 8 with his teammate Truex. Okay, now comes the spicy part. Denny Hamlin will win only once this coming season. Not only this, but Denny will have a very similar season to what Kevin Harvick had last season. I strongly believe that Hamlin will have most of his focus shifted on his own race team this season, with them expanding to a two-car operation and trying to learn the Gen 7. I think Denny, as usual, will ruffle some feathers on his way to a disappointing Round of 12 exit. The key to success for this team is to lean on the veteran presence they have here. That presence alone will help the team continue to battle with HMS as the top organization in NASCAR, and ultimately it will land ‘Rowdy’ the title.
Gi (@basicallygi): Holding any doubt towards Joe Gibbs Racing, heading into any season, is without a doubt a losing bet. The team has proven time and time again, that they are a force to be reckoned with, and last season they proved that yet again, by not only having all four of their drivers earn a win, but also by placing two out of the four of their drivers in the final four. What their success will really come down to this season, is the same as it will be for all the other teams in the field: the Next Gen Car. It’s safe to assume that Christopher Bell and Kyle Busch will probably adapt to the new vehicle well, as they both have more experience with cars similar to this one, as compared to their teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr, but with the reinstatement of practice and qualifying they could all easily make a quick switch of dominance in the Next Gen Car. Stats, ten out of ten times don’t lie and prove that in the seasons where practice and qualifying were in place, Joe Gibbs Racing as a whole performed better. Having practice and qualifying back in place, leaves an opportunity for them to try and have a better understanding of their cars, and figure out how to dial them in properly. I think when decking when deciding a star player for the team t his year, I’d have to give it to either Busch or Bell, but depending on how fast they figure things out with the Next Gen Car, they could all easily be a threat for the championship by seasons end.
Francisco (@cisco_1213): In 2022 I feel like JGR is going to adjust to the new car better than other teams might. The new car is thought of as being a more “talent” based race car, and I think all four JGR drivers (all six if you include the sister team 23XI Racing) are talented enough to at least run upfront. I am extremely confident that they will have at least one car in the Championship Four, and currently I believe it’ll either be Denny Hamlin or Martin Truex Jr. again. Christopher Bell clearly has the talent to be a championship contender, though his inexperience is holding him back significantly. As for Kyle Busch, I see him having another frustrating year, maybe three or four wins max. As seen in 2020 and 2021, Kyle Busch was greatly hindered by the lack of practice and qualifying. With those aspects of the race weekend returning for ‘22, I think it will make Kyle’s performances slightly better, but overall I think his performance won’t be nearly as stellar as his pre-2020 self.
What are YOUR predictions for JGR in 2022? Let us know on Twitter!
Featured photo from Heavy.com