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The weekend ended much better than it started for Joe Gibbs Racing as Martin Truex Jr. won the Busch Light Clash one day after rookie Ty Gibbs’ practice was derailed by a car fire.

Truex is likable enough, so most NASCAR observers were undoubtedly fine with that, especially given his winless 2022 season. Naturally, however, someone found a reason to throw shade at JGR.

Thankfully, Rodney Childers was there to shoot that down like it was a suspicious balloon off the South Carolina coast.

Joe Gibbs Racing drivers are on a hot run in the Clash

Rodney Childers, crew chief for Kevin Harvick, looks on during the running of NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 on Sept. 4, 2022, at Darlington Raceway. | Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Rodney Childers, crew chief for Kevin Harvick, looks on during the running of NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 on Sept. 4, 2022, at Darlington Raceway. | Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Busch Light Clash has only been contested on three tracks, and Joe Gibbs Racing competitors have won on all of them. They’ve done it in a four-year span:

  • 2020: Erik Jones on the Daytona International Speedway oval.
  • 2021: Kyle Busch on the Daytona road course.
  • 2022: Martin Truex Jr. on the Los Angeles Coliseum quarter-mile track.

That’s a nice run of success for JGR, and it was more than just the MTJ show in Los Angeles. Denny Hamlin finished ninth and Christopher Bell 13th after decidedly different starts to the day. Hamlin won Heat 3 to roll into the championship race, but Bell ran sixth in the same heat and had to squeeze into the big field via the last-chance qualifier.

The fourth member of the team endured a more difficult weekend, almost as if it was his rookie hazing.

Ty Gibbs’ JGR debut in the Cup Series didn’t go well

Ty Gibbs will be watched closely throughout his rookie season in the Cup Series. The 2022 Xfinity Series champion logged 15 races in the top series last summer and fall while filling in at 23XI Racing for Kurt Busch, but now he’s driving for his grandfather’s team.

The opening weekend was memorable for the obstacles he faced but forgettable for the results. A car fire knocked Gibbs out of practice on Saturday, NASCAR stopped him from running a qualifying lap, and then he finished sixth in his heat on Sunday.

To his credit, Gibbs placed second in the last-chance qualifier to punch a ticket into the big race. Unfortunately, he was the second man out of the final because of a broken suspension.

Rodney Childers stands up for Joe Gibbs Racing

The Ty Gibbs car fire on Saturday sent his crew scrambling. The damage to the right side of the No. 54 Toyota wasn’t enough to take the car out of competition, but there was a race to finish the job in time for Gibbs to run his qualifying laps.

That became a moot point after NASCAR officials cited unapproved repairs and ruled Gibbs could not qualify. That sent him to the back of the field in Heat 4 the following day.

One of the unsung heroes of the effort to get Gibbs back on the track was the Stewart-Haas Racing team, which dug into its hauler to lend JGR a door foam piece to repair the one damaged in the fire. That saved the crew from disassembling a backup car to cannibalize it for parts.

The sporting gesture elicited a snide-sounding question on Twitter from a self-described Kevin Harvick fan with about 300 followers: “If roles were reversed, would JGR help out SHR?”

Harvick’s longtime crew chief jumped all over that one.

“I normally would ignore comments, but this time I can’t,” Rodney Childers responded on Twitter. “The guys at JGR are the first to come running to help us out every single time. Most of the time they are there to help before anyone. We are all family, but I would do anything for them, and the same for them.”

The response probably goes against the way a lot of NASCAR fans perceive Joe Gibbs Racing, and it was cool of Childers to set some nobody straight.

Got a question or observation about racing? Sportscasting’s John Moriello does a mailbag column each Friday. Write to him at JohnM@Sportscasting.com.