By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
No team has been stronger in 2016 than the Joe Gibbs Racing stable. Led by reigning champion, Kyle Busch, the team sports seven victories through the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ first 15 races of the year. However the team has a huge problem shaping, and it’s one that many other teams probably wish they had to deal with — they have too many talented drivers, and not enough cars to put them in.
Currently the Sprint Cup Series team is packed-full with Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth. That is an all-star lineup, which features two Sprint Cup Series champions, as well as a couple of drivers who have come pretty damn close to hoisting the championship trophy in seasons past.
That being said, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and William Byron are coming, and fast.
Jones, at just 20-years-old, already has 11 victories between the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series ranks. Jones also added the Truck Series championship trophy to his mantle last season, and he is in the thick of the championship hunt for the Xfinity Series title this year.
Jones has shown a supreme level of talent, and he will demand a Sprint Cup Series ride sooner, rather than later.
Suarez broke through in a big way at Michigan a couple of weeks ago, scoring the first win by a Mexican-born driver in NASCAR National Series history. Suarez, too, is no slouch behind the wheel. At 24-years-old, the former NASCAR Mexico Series champion, leads the Xfinity Series championship standings, and will seemingly be in the thick of the title battle when the Chase concludes in Homestead.
Another interesting twist for Suarez, is that he comes fully sponsored by Arris, who is currently sponsoring Edwards at JGR in the Cup Series.
The youngest driver in this group is Charlotte, North Carolina’s Byron. At 18-years-old, you would expect a couple of more years of seasoning to be necessary before Byron breaks into the Premier Series full-time, but what he has done in just nine Camping World Truck Series starts is nothing short of remarkable.
Byron has won three of his nine starts — including two consecutive — and he sits second-overall in the championship battle. In a couple of short years Byron will also demand a seat in the Cup Series.
Now, the only question for all three drivers is: Will that seat be at Joe Gibbs Racing?
The inn looks very full at the present time, but many have speculated that Furniture Row Racing — who has an aliance with Joe Gibbs Racing — will expand in the coming seasons. If that team does expand, they could possibly lease Gibbs’ young talent until they are groomed to succeed a current Gibbs Cup Series driver, however Furniture Row has explicitly stated in the past that they must have sponsorship in place if they are to continue with any expansion plans.
That being said, it still doesn’t mean that these three drivers don’t end up at Gibbs in the Cup Series anyway. If that’s the case then the dilemma becomes: which current driver or drivers get the axe to pave their way? It’s a perplexing problem for sure, but having too many talented drivers is a good problem to have for a NASCAR race team.