Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. both drive Toyotas, and while they aren’t on the same team, they both use equipment and engines from Joe Gibbs Racing. So why has Truex been faster and had a better season than Hamlin?
Hamlin was asked that question after Truex won his sixth race of the season, and he said there are two reasons why Truex has had so much success this year.
First, Hamlin said Truex’s car has more speed in reserve. He also told Motorsport that Truex has the advantage of being the only car in the playoffs for Furniture Row Racing, while Joe Gibbs Racing has three cars in the postseason.
“I think they can be a little bit off in balance and still be a little bit faster than what we are. Where I feel like the races we run competitive with him, my balance has been superb, and then I hear in our debriefing, he hated his car,” Hamlin said.
“I think they’ve just got a little bit more speed in reserve, honestly. I mean, they build their own bodies and do their own thing out there (in Denver, Colo.). They just use our parts to put it all together. They do a phenomenal job.”
Furniture Row Racing only has two cars with Truex and Erik Jones, and Jones didn’t make the playoffs this season. So the team, which gets its equipment and engines from Joe Gibbs Racing, can focus all of their attention on Truex’s car.
Meanwhile, JGR has Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth in the playoffs, so the team has to focus on all three drivers.
Hamlin said FRR likely spends every resource it has on Truex’s car each week, which helps him perform better at races. Even still, Busch and Hamlin are near the top of the standings, and Kenseth also has a chance to make the next round.
Truex is the favorite to win his first championship, but it’s far from a foregone conclusion.