Nearly half-way through the Nascar season, Hendrick Motorsports is nearly at the top of their game. Their drivers are paving the way to another great season for the team...but not those whom we might have thought. A look at what's happening with Nascar's #1 team.
#48, The Champion -- Jimmy Johnson has been his usual solid, if not spectacular, self so far this season. He has been consistently near the top of the standings, and is likely setting himself up for another championship run. He has won the past three, which has only been done one other time...by Cale Yarborough in the 70s. All in all, he is quite impressive, even if he is not a favorite of mine. The only knock on him is that he is too mellow, laid back. He does not seem to have the killer instinct. But, hey...as long as he and Chad Knauss, his crew chief, keep putting the #48 in the Champions Circle, what does it matter?
#24, The Veteran -- Jeff Gordon, my long-time favorite, is a four time Sprint Cup Series champion. Jeff does not dominate like he used to, but he is still such a dangerous competitor. He is near the top of the standings every week...and usually at the end of the year, as well. I believe that he is going to break through again and win another championship...soon.
#5, The Old Man -- I say this affectionately concerning Mark Martin. He is 50 years old, which certainly does not seem old (especially as I am fast approaching that number), but in racing terms, he is nearly Methuselah. He has quickly become my favorite this year, although he has always been near the top of the list. (Note -- Morgan Sheppard, who was recently racing in the junior circuit...the Nationwide Series, is in his 70's, which IS seriously Methuselah). Martin has won two races this year, which is absolutely amazing...a testament to his conditioning and will. He has finished second in the series championship one time over his nearly thirty years of racing, but has never won one. There would be nothing cooler than seeing him win one this year for Hendrick.
#88, The Name -- It appears that Dale Earnhardt Jr is always going to be the most popular driver on the Nascar circuit, but is never going to live up to the hype of his famous name...which is too bad, as he has also been one of my faves. I think that Jr, as he gets older, is putting more and more pressure on himself to win a championship...and is getting fewer and fewer good results. When he is running good, he can stay near the top of the standings...but when he is not, he psyches himself out, tries to force things to happen, and makes too many errors in the pits and on the track. Sadly, he is going to go the way of former teammate, Michael Waltrip, into competitive irrelevance, soon, if he does not figure out how to relax and let things come to him.
#25, The Kid -- Brad Keselowski is only running a part time schedule as a rookie with Hendrick. Yet, in only his fifth start (I believe), he was able to get a win at perhaps the most difficult of all tracks -- Talladega. He has a bright future, and is going to have to wait awhile before he is going to get the #5 ride, as Mr Martin is not planning on going anywhere anytime soon.
*#s 14, 39 Stewart/Haas Racing -- honorable mention to Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman who are running Hendrick chassis' and motors. They are also getting great results this year. Although I am not a big fan of this tandem, you have to respect their abilities.
Fun team, Hendrick's crew...easy to root for (or against, I guess...if you are a fan of other teams, drivers). Hope they continue to have a super year. Blessings,