RICHMOND, Va. – Kyle Busch may not like it, but Brad Coleman will drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Nashville Superspeedway next month.
Busch, third in the Nationwide points standings after Friday’s race at Richmond, has said he wants to try to defend his Nationwide championship, but JGR team principals Joe and J.D. Gibbs are against that idea.
Steve DeSouza, vice president of the team’s Nationwide Series operations, said Friday at Richmond that Coleman will drive the No. 18 in the remaining standalone races.
"Brad’s going to do about seven races in the 18 car," DeSouza said, "and Matt (DiBenedetto) going to run six in the 20 car."
Coleman drove a part-time schedule for JGR last year in the team’s No. 20 Toyota. Coleman led 35 laps and had a top-five and two top-10 finishes, but he also finished 23rd or worse four times. He’ll be paired with crew chief Jason Ratcliff, whom DeSouza said did a better job with Coleman than Dave Rogers in 2009.
"(Ratcliff) understands how to manage Brad," DeSouza said. "I think last year, he tried to go out and prove he could win races. The first year, Jason had him in a mindset, ‘I just want you to do what the car’ll give you and what you’re comfortable doing.’ Last year, he just missed a couple poles by the tick of it, but he was determined to win a race. And Dave encouraged him that he could win races.
"He just went off the edge and said, ‘Man, I’ve got six times to win a race.’"
Ratcliff will manage Coleman’s expectations, DeSouza said. Coleman will race the road-course standalone events at Road America and Montreal, while Joey Logano will do the Montreal race.