Joe Gibbs Racing teams to remain open in midst of Chase battle
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The information has always been shared, and that will continue to be the case right up until season's end, said Kyle Busch.
"We have to continue to work together," Busch said Tuesday. "It's going to be a lot better to have us two being able to bounce ideas off of (each other) all the way down into the Chase and to race against the other cars."
Both have been successful thus far -- Kenseth has seven wins and leads the points standings while Busch, who is third and trails by 12, has four wins.
Five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, winner of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' most recent stop Sunday in Dover, Del., sits between the two teammates, eight points behind Kenseth and four ahead of Busch.
The three will try to further separate themselves from the field when the series moves to Kansas Speedway for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400.
Whether it's been a case of running similar setups on their respective Toyotas or a combination of what each has found beneficial, such open-mindedness has produced positive results.
Both ran similar setups at Chicagoland in the Chase opener, Busch said, although testing at the 1.5-mile track earlier in the season led each down different paths. "In the end, we kind of migrated a little bit closer towards each other," he said.
Kenseth won, while Busch finished second.
The results were the same a week later, although they were achieved in a different fashion.
"(At) Loudon, (Kenseth) actually took my exact setup from the springtime when I led a lot of laps and ended up finishing second," Busch said. "He put that in his car and he was lights out all weekend long, just had a great weekend."
Busch, in the meantime, "tried (something) a little bit … different," he said. By the end of the race, "we were just as fast if not faster than Matt."
Again, the two finished 1-2 with Kenseth picking up a second consecutive Chase victory.
The two finished fifth (Busch) and seventh (Kenseth) at Dover in a race that both led, but one in which Johnson dominated.
"I don't foresee anything changing," said Busch, who is still seeking his first Chase win. "I see competition getting stiffer.
"Whether or not Matt and I are the ones competing against each other, that's to be seen. But I don't think anything's going to change. We still communicate, as well as our crew chiefs. Dave Rogers and Jason Ratcliff have worked with each other for many years in the Nationwide ranks, sharing information and competing for championships down there (and) now ultimately at the Cup level."
Busch said the sharing process has always been in place at JGR, and while he's never been in a championship battle with a teammate, continuing the distribution of information "is the ethical thing to do."
"It can certainly make for some difficult moments or some team meetings that maybe you don't share everything," he said. "But I think in essence, like I said, the ethical thing to do is to be complete open book. May the best man and crew chief win."
After all, Busch said, it's not so much the information that you have, but what you do with it that matters. Crew chiefs have been known to spend many a long night before a race poring over possible tweaks and changes to improve the performance of their car under various race conditions. Those changes can often be the difference once the race gets underway.
"It's mostly going to come down to … Saturday night, Sunday morning, when the most thoughtful changes are going into the race car," Busch said. "Whether Jason Ratcliff throws together a magic package for Matt Kenseth or whether Dave Rogers can throw a magical setup for me and we can have a better car on Sundays.
"I don't foresee much of that changing. (When we) come down into Homestead, hopefully it is the two of us battling it out.
"All that does is guarantees (team owner) Joe Gibbs a championship and Joe gets to sit up on the stage, and that will be pretty cool."