If anyone deserved to whine this season, it was Rick Hendrick. The most successful owner in Nascar, went into Daytona for the Great American Race with a five time Sprint Cup Champion, a four time Cup Champion, the sports most popular driver, and a newbie. After the Jet Dryer was extinguished early Tuesday morning, and the checkered flag finally went in the air, he would leave Daytona with Dale Jr. getting a second place finish, but the remainder of his teams in shambles.
Jimmie Johnson was caught up in a wreck on lap one(that was still Monday), Jeff Gordon had an engine problem that took him out on lap 81(still Monday), and his new kid, Kasey Kahne, got caught up in a lap 189 crash that would give him a 29th place finish. The only bright spot was a 2nd place finish by Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The problems that Speed-Week brought, did not end there. The #48 was nabbed by Nascar Inspectors for an illegal C-Panel, and not only was his Lowes Chevrolet team fined heavily, they had 25 driver points deducted from a driver who finished 42nd and didn’t have 25 points to spare.
The Lowes Chevrolet team rebounded at Phoenix with a 4th place finish, but with the points penalty, Jimmie Johnson was dropped to 37th place in points. Gordon, with an 8th place finish would rebound a little, but would still be in 22nd place. Kasey Kahne finished 34th and dropped to 32nd.
After respectable finishes at Las Vegas, Jeff and Kasey’s problems would come in torrents at Bristol. After leading 257 laps, Gordon had an incident in turn 3, and finished 35th. Kahne also had problems and finished 37th and drop in points to 32nd. Bristol was where the #5 and #24 cars embarked on as series of just plain bad luck.
The majority of bad luck for the Farmers Insurance Chevy of Kasey Kahne’s would hit bottom at Martinsville. Although he had started on the pole, he had an engine problem on lap 256. He finished in 38th place and dropping back to 31st in points. From this point on, Kasey Kahne drove himself back into contention.
In Texas, the turnaround began with a 7th place finish, and he followed with eight more top 10 finishes which included his first win for Hendrick Motor Sports at Charlotte. After a ninth place finish at Dover, Kasey had driven himself back up to 14th place in the points standings, and had at least a Wild Card berth within his reach.
Jeff Gordon’s luck would be bad all year. There would be a promise of good luck, and bad luck would prevail. His luck was not real bad, but just bad enough to keep him out of the winners circle, or out of contention. A 4th place at Texas would turn into a 22nd at Kansas, a 23rd at Richmond, and a 33rd at Talladega. What little good luck he would get, it would be followed by bad luck. And by the way, He had the pole at Talladega.
After good finishes at New Hampshire and Indy, he finally got some good luck, and some bad weather to get that first win, and a shot at the chase in Pocono. It would be a year long struggle, but would resolve itself at Richmond. You could hear it in his voice in an interview during the last rain delay. He looked and sounded like a man who knew he didn’t stand much of a chance. But he got a little more good luck when Kyle Busch got caught up in racing with the other 42 cars, and not the only car that could keep him out of the Chase, The #24.
Mr. Hendrick went to arbitration twice and got Nascar to give Jimmie Johnson his points back, and with Dale Jr carrying the HMS banner all year, he now has all four of his race teams in the Race For The Chase. That is the reason he has been the most successful car owner in Nascar history. This is why he has the best sponsors, which buy the best people, and the reason drivers want to fall on a sword for him.
This is the reason an attitude of “No Whining and Keep Racing” wins Championships.
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