Monday, June 16, 2014

Hendrick Tightening Its Grip On Sprint Cup Dominance

"They're a full season ahead."
As NASCAR heads into its annual summer stretch, Hendrick Motorsports is on a roll. With five consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories, including three by six-time champion Jimmie Johnson, if you’re not working with HMS, you’re working at a disadvantage.

In the aftermath of another beat down Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, Hendrick’s performance edge has the competition worried – maybe even panicked – about what lies ahead.

"It's pretty obvious that the Hendrick engines are way ahead of everyone else," said former series champion Brad Keselowski, after chasing Johnson and HMS-affiliated Kevin Harvick to the checkered flag in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400. "As far ahead as they are right now, they're probably a full season ahead of everyone.”

Read that again. One full season ahead of everyone. Twelve long months of catchup ball before anyone can realistically hope to upset Hendrick’s apple cart.

Keselowski was strong Sunday, but had little for Johnson or Harvick at the end. And in truth, his third-place finish was one of the few bright spots for anyone not wheeling a Chevrolet SS. Ford Motor Company’s longstanding stranglehold on Michigan’s Victory Lane was broken with authority Sunday, with Keselowski and Team Penske teammate Joey Logano the only Fords in the Top-10. Rival Toyota fared even worse, with only Clint Bowyer claiming a spot (the final one) in the Top-10.

Get used to this sight...
After decades of domination in the Irish Hills, Roush Fenway Racing was struggled mightily Sunday. Jack Roush failed to claim a Top-10 finish at his home track for the first time in 14 years, with Greg Biffle finishing 20th, Carl Edwards 23rd and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. 27th. Joe Gibbs Racing was only marginally better, managing a 14th-place finish from Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin’s 29th and a 41st from Kyle Busch. Busch was hindered by right-rear hub issues, but Kenseth and Hamlin were just plain slow and never a factor for the win.

"We just don't have it," admitted Kenseth, who remains winless this season after claiming seven checkered flags a year ago. "I don't know how else to explain it. We just can't fix it on pit road (and) we can't get close enough (to) the leaders to be able to hang on to a position, even when the team gives it to me (with a fast pit stop)."

With Hendrick performing at peak efficiency and most of its major challengers struggling, it could be a long summer for Ford and Toyota fans.

"I don't really think there is anybody in the wings," said Keselowski when asked who might be able to derail the HMS juggernaut. "I think where we are right now is where we're going to be for the remainder of the year. You might see some small gains from some teams, but I don't see anything significant coming.

“The Penske cars are probably the best when it comes to balance,” he said. “The Hendrick cars are probably the best (on) power. Kevin Harvick’s team is probably the fastest, (and) I don't really see that changing for the duration of the season.”

Even Harvick, who has access to the full complement of HMS chassis, engines, technology and set-up advice, responded snappishly Sunday when asked about Hendrick’s dominance, saying, “I think it's pretty obvious."  
When he’s right, he’s right.

Hendrick Motorsports is unquestionably the team to beat in 2014. With six victories in 14 starts – and three more for their Stewart Haas Racing affiliate – they have a firm grasp on the Sprint Cup Series’ collective windpipe.

“We've got 12 weeks until the Chase starts,” said Keselowski, doing his best to sound optimistic. “At Penske, I think we're right there, just half a nose behind the Hendrick‑powered cars. We need just a little bit more, and if we can do that, we have a shot at running for the championship.


“But we've got work to do to get there."

19 comments:

  1. Come on now, all you conspiracy theorists out there, you must have SOMETHING to say?

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    1. Anonymous2:23 AM

      would not give you the time of day...or the obvious questions one could ask and answers never ever to be forthcoming. Enjoy your simple mind.

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  2. Anonymous12:50 AM

    If NASCAR wants to even the competition instead of aero changes and restrictor plates they should think about a weight or horsepower (Fuel Injection ) penalty or give the other two manufacturers an advantage. You just can't continue to have that dominance in this era. Sponsors will leave because their drivers can't get top five representation impressions, and another manufacturer could leave NASCAR a wounded and declining sport. It is not a good place to be. As much as 'the media' keeps saying that it's a good thing that Jimmy Johnson could win another championship, it's not. What it shows to people on the fringe of the sport that one team and one make are NASCAR. It cannot stand for the sport to survive. If you think I'm wrong consider, Honda has stayed away from NASCAR after dominating every other form of racing they enter (for a time). I wonder why?

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  3. Anonymous9:06 AM

    Come on Dave Let's talk about how NASCAR has once again turned a blind eye to their own made up rules. Last year after Richmond Mike Helton came out and stated there would be no more helping other drivers on the track, if they did both would be punished. Plate tracks the exception. The last 2 weeks we saw two Hendrick Engine Cars, who weren't even teammates of the 88, back up to the 88 and allow him to get trash off his grill. This past week the 1 car was battling for 3rd place and all of a sudden it stops the battle and backs up to allow the 88 to get the trash off. Not a word from the NASCAR monkeys like you, or NASCAR. Why aren't you saying anything about that. You screamed and hollared because the 55 helped the 56 last year but your silence on this issues is deafening.

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    1. At least we NASCAR monkeys have guts enough to post our opinions under our real names, rather than a gutless "Anonymous" post. If you're not man enough to sign your name to your opinion, there's usually a reason. Thanks for reading!

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    2. Or this past weekend at Michigan Dillon shreds a tire...No late caution...? That's right JJ is in the lead...

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  4. so where's thee engine dyno results that always get leaked after a race to tell us they're all within 10 HP?

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  5. So Brad has finally attended the Dale Jarrett School of Manufacturer Whining.

    What is next Tire soaking allegations? This is so late 1990s.


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  6. I seen what was coming and went to a base ball game Sunday and since 1985 I have either attended the races or watched it on tv. I never missed it a bit, I know nascar is favoring the chevys, it's plan to see unless you are blind. Come Sunday I my go fishing and not worry about my driver being embarrassed running in the back because of the lopsided rules.

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    1. It's definitely easier to blame the rules than your driver...

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  7. Anonymous10:46 AM

    Anyone think it's funny that Dave has to approve all the comments here? Reason why is he knows he's a liar and when the fans call him on it he doesn't want to be embarrassed with the actual facts.

    Dan Cole

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    1. Dan Cole, the bottom line is this. It's my blog, and I post whatever I want, whenever I want. I don't need your approval for any of it, and if you're unhappy with the way things are run here, feel free to create your own blog and be as obnoxious as you like. Going forward, your comments will be published here only when you learn to obey our rules concerning name calling and respecting your fellow posters. Based on the six posts I have refused today, however, perhaps it's best that you find somewhere else to hang out. You will almost certainly not be missed. Buh bye!

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    2. After another abusive Dan Cole post (not published, and not GOING to be published), we can now make it official. Dan's comments are no longer welcome here, and will not be published. Period. Go away, Dan.

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    3. LOL, this guy just doesn't get it. Three more nastygrams since I told him he would no longer be published here! Keep `em coming, Dan! You're making me laugh!

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  8. I don't always agree with Moody's or his followers' opinions. But to his point, why do some people resort to name calling - liar, moron, idiot, simple minded - to make their point?

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    1. Because they're not bright enough to cite actual facts.

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  9. Anonymous6:50 PM

    What was nasty Dave, The truth? Something you know nothing about.

    Dan Cole

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  10. Yea..It's pretty obvious Rick wrote a big check to NASCAR make sure his guys are winning..... But JJ winning 3 out of 4 races....? Way to make it look so obvious to anyone watches the races.....

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