Joe Gibbs Racing hopes to make a statement–but not until Saturday

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 09:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Pretty In Pink Foundation Toyota, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 9, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, NC – OCTOBER 09: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Pretty In Pink Foundation Toyota, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 9, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

CONCORD, N.C. – It’s all well and good that Joe Gibbs Racing placed all four of the organization’s drivers in the top eight for the start of Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 (on NBC at 7 p.m. ET) at Charlotte Motor Speedway—including two on the front row.

But a strong performance in qualifying won’t mean much if JGR doesn’t back it up in the first race in the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Kyle Busch, who will start beside teammate and Coors Light pole winner Matt Kenseth knows that only too well.

“Qualifying is not a statement,” Busch said on Thursday night, after putting his No. 18 Toyota on the front row. “The race is more of a statement. You have to have a good race, put it all together. You have to have fast race cars, good engines and good guys on pit road that give you fast pit stops. Putting it all together is certainly what the 4 (Kevin Harvick) bunch did last week (in winning at Dover and salvaging a spot in the Chase), and they proved that they’re obviously a championship contender.”

“We knew that they were, but they certainly put it to everybody. We were a distant second, but third was distant on us, and I look forward to this weekend, hoping that we can be better than all the rest of the guys and put on a 4-car type performance with the 18 car this weekend.”

If he does, that will be a statement. If not, the qualifying positions will soon be forgotten.

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