2011 Ride: No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
2011 Primary Sponsors: Shore Lodge Resort, Sandvik (Chicagoland, June), Doosan (Charlotte, Oct.), Boise State Broncos
2011 Owner: Joe Gibbs
2011 Crew Chief: Kevin Kidd
2011 Nationwide Series Stats: 34 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 7 top 10s, 1 pole, eighth in points
High Point: Once again, for the second consecutive year, Scott has seemingly figured out the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway. Last year, Scott finished a career-best third in the No. 11 for then-Braun Racing in his first Nationwide Series start at the track. This year, he was able to equal that performance in September. Since Brad Keselowski won the race over Carl Edwards, it meant that Scott actually earned the most points in the event. This performance was also a repeat from July 2010. The June event could have been nearly as good, but the No. 11, sponsored by Sandvik in a one-race deal, ran out of fuel with a lap and change remaining.
Scott was also strong at Charlotte Motor Speedway, collecting an eighth-place finish in May and a strong fifth-place run in October. Those runs go to show that Scott can be strong at certain tracks.
Low Point: Really hard to say. However, two races stand out. One was the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond in September. Scott was having a somewhat disappointing night when he was hit from behind entering turn 3 by Aric Almirola just after a restart. Scott’s No. 11 spun and backed hard into the outside wall, slightly collecting Michael Annett. Afterwards, Scott had to be restrained by safety workers while he angrily shook his fist at a passing Almirola.
The second was in the Wypall 200 at Phoenix International Raceway in November. In that race, Scott started in a distant 24th and couldn’t even make it through the first lap before he was run over from behind by Reed Sorenson. Scott spun into the wall, then came back across the track and was hit by the No. 39 of Matt Frahm before coming to rest on the apron. The No. 11 could not be repaired after the crash, leaving Scott with a 42nd-place finish and no laps completed.
Summary: Last year, I had the pleasure of interviewing Scott shortly after he was released from Braun Racing (now Turner Motorsports). He described his 2010 season up to that point as being disappointing and lacking consistency. Unfortunately for Scott, 2011 was almost a carbon copy of 2010, despite having much better equipment.
The first half of the season was marked by a series of decent top-15 runs. Then, there was a 22nd-place run at Nashville in April that began a swoon which lasted all the way to Memorial Day weekend, where he finished eighth at Charlotte.
The majority of the season after that saw Scott put up some decent finishes, but likely nowhere near what he believed he was capable of doing, knowing that he had Joe Gibbs Racing equipment at his disposal. There was a long series of finishes in the 12-17 range while Kyle Busch would drop into the No. 18 and always be a threat to win. Joey Logano was also very strong in the No. 20, although not always a victory lane contender. Even Ryan Truex in his few starts in the No. 20 overshadowed Scott.
Yes, Scott finished inside the top 10 in driver points, but that was mostly because of NASCAR’s new “Pick a Series” rule. Without that new rule, Scott likely would have finished right where he was last season (12th).
Team Ranking: Scott was the only driver at Joe Gibbs Racing to run the full schedule, so technically, he is the No. 1 driver at JGR. However, the No. 11 car itself was the No. 3 team at Joe Gibbs Racing all season. The No. 18 finished second in owner points on the strength of Kyle Busch’s eight wins, although Busch split the seat with Denny Hamlin, Logano, Kelly Bires and Drew Herring. The No. 20 finished 10th in owner points with two victories (one each for Hamlin and Logano) despite not even entering four races. Scott’s No. 11 was 15th in owner points.
2012 Outlook: For 2012, Scott will remain in the seat for the full season. The Scott family will not be providing primary sponsorship to the team since the same deal that brings Dollar General to Logano’s No. 20 in the Sprint Cup Series also provides primary sponsorship to Scott’s No. 11 for the full 2012 season. Scott will be looking to improve on his performances from 2011 and could be a threat to win, especially on the intermediate tracks.
2011 Frontstretch Grade: B-
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