Power Rankings: Hamlin, crew chief Grubb class of field right now

by | NASCAR Blogger

Denny Hamlin has now won four races this season. (US Presswire)  
Denny Hamlin has now won four races this season. (US Presswire)  

Apparently at this point last year, Darian Grubb knew his fate. Despite having eleven races left in the regular season and his driver in the mix for a run in the Chase, Grubb was informed he would not be back at Stewart-Haas Racing.

Talk about landing on your feet.

Grubb has not missed a beat since being paired up as crew chief with Denny Hamlin at Joe Gibbs Racing.

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The duo scored win number four of the season Sunday night in Atlanta and with only Richmond left before the playoffs begin, have the number one seed in hand.

But Grubb is not hitting the fast-forward button just yet to get to the end of the possible story of leading two drivers at different organizations to championships in consecutive seasons.

Grubbs is well aware of how much things can change in this sport nearly overnight but there's much work to be done.

"It would be extremely cool," Grubb admitted. "Like you said, we take it one race at a time. But our car schedule is already done all the way through Homestead. We're already preparing the cars for Talladega and those things. The work never stops. You're working six, seven weeks ahead all the time to make sure things are ready, and the guys at the shop are doing a great job preparing ahead of time so when we go to the racetrack and unload, we're fast."

Grubb's ability to take what was a very solid race team to the next level is not lost on Hamlin, who still has memories fresh in his mind of falling apart at the end of the 2010 season's title run.

"You know, this is all -- the foundation has been laid," said Hamlin. "He's just putting the cap on it I feel like, and Darian is getting the most out of our guys. I've never seen our crew just so happy to be at the racetrack every single week. Even in 2010 I didn't see that from our guys. That's when you get the most out of them, and for me I just -- I'm just happy to be at the racetrack every single week knowing I can win a race. It doesn't matter the racetrack anymore, it's just I know we can win.

"Darian has just taken this program to that next level, and obviously anyone can go on a 10-race run. He did it last year, and hopefully he's got some of the magic saved up for us here in the next few weeks."

And if he's successful, Grubb can carve out a place in the record books as a back-to-back championship-winning crew chief.

"It would be extremely cool to be able to pull that off," said Grubb.

1Brad Keselowski2
Took over the Chase lead by 20 points thanks to a sixth place finish and Jimmie Johnson?s misfortune. This is now the Penske Racing driver?s championship to lose.
2Jimmie Johnson1
Saw his seven point lead evaporate thanks to a cut tire and trip into the wall on Sunday. Johnson now must hope a similar such fate happens to Keselowski next week at Homestead to have any shot at a sixth title.
3Kyle Busch4
Nearly ran the table in Phoenix by leading all practices and taking the pole had he been able to win the race. But a poor decision on lane choice for a late restart cost Busch a shot at Victory Lane.
4Kasey Kahne5
Ending the year on a positive note but wasn?t able to match his Phoenix victory of last November. Still a solid day with a fourth place performance.
5Clint Bowyer3
Was the victim of Jeff Gordon?s revenge that completely eliminated Bowyer from championship contention. He wasn?t an angel in the turn of events but Bowyer definitely got the worst of the situation.
6Denny Hamlin8
Hamlin?s second place finish in Phoenix a welcome rebound from two weeks of disappointment for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. He?ll be a factor for a win next Sunday in Homestead.
7Kevin Harvick12
Snapped a 44-race winless drought with Sunday?s win ironically coming on the weekend when reports of his evacuation from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 broke out.
8Greg Biffle6
A decent day for ?The Biff? in Phoenix, who was able to dodge all the last lap craziness to bring home his Roush Fenway Racing Ford seventh.
9Joey Logano13
Minding his own business until getting swept up in the Gordon-Bowyer fight. Logano was on his way to a nice effort to follow up his ninth Nationwide Series win on Saturday.
10Ryan Newman14
Rough way to earn a fifth place finish as Newman was one of the unfortunate souls to get caught in the last lap crash on the main straightaway.
11Tony Stewart9
Not a god day at all for Smoke who spun late after making contact racing for position. A 19th place finish for Stewart.
12Matt Kenseth11
Will make the final Sprint Cup start of his career for Roush Fenway Racing next week at Homestead on the heels of a 14th place effort in Phoenix.
13Martin Truex Jr.10
His race was over nearly before it started with a blown engine. After a stellar regular season Truex Jr. has suffered mightily throughout the Chase.
14Carl Edwards15
An 11th place finish for Edwards as he brings to a close one of the most disappointing seasons in his career.

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