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How Joe Gibbs Racing playoff drivers are preparing for the playoffs

Matt Kenseth cracks wise with Dave Burns about the highs and lows he experienced this season and details whether or not he thinks the No. 17 team can finally get a win this season.

Joe Gibbs Racing has struggled at times for wins this season, particularly the still-winless Matt Kenseth.

But all three of its playoff drivers -- Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin -- are ready for the NASCAR Cup playoffs that begin this Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.

Their strategy may differ slightly from each other, but there’s an overall confidence that each and every JGR driver believes he can get through the first three rounds and contend for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In the above video, a relaxed and cool Kenseth talked with NBCSN’s Dave Burns about the highs and lows he’s experienced this season and believes he and his No. 20 team are trending in the right direction heading into the playoffs.

“I guess I’m ready to break that winlessness streak,” Kenseth said. “I’m ready to go. I’m glad we’re in, we had a pretty tough first few months of the season and pretty proud of our team to get us back up since June.

“Our performance has been better, pit road has been great, right now I think we’re in our best shape of the season. ... We haven’t won a win in a long time. I feel we’re way too good of a team to be winless this long. Our No. 1 goal is to get that win.”

Teammate Kyle Busch has two wins thus far this season and expects to earn more in the 10-race playoffs.

In an interview with NBCSN, Busch the biggest strength of his team is his relationship with crew chief Adam Stevens, and he’s confident the pair can take the No. 18 to its second Cup championship in the last three seasons.
“I feel pretty good about it, obviously this year has been a pretty good year for us,” Busch said. “I’m looking forward to these final 10 weeks.”

The one track that concerns Busch the most is Texas. “We didn’t have the best showing there in the spring race,” Busch said. “I’m looking forward to (Homestead-Miami) the most. Of course, you have to be in the top 4 to be looking forward to that race, But I feel there’s no reason why we can’t be in the top 4 going into Homestead-Miami.”

And then there’s Denny Hamlin, who was a special guest at the NBC Sports studios in Stamford, Connecticut on Thursday before flying to Chicago for the start of the NASCAR weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

Hamlin joined NBCSN’s Parker Kligerman on the NASCAR America simulator and showed how he approaches practice behind the wheel.