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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Keselowski puts in his final ride for Hendrick … for now

Saturday night was the end of an era for Brad Keselowski, as he drove his final Cup race for Hendrick Motorsports this year. He has a race left in the #09 car driving for James Finch at Talladega, where he will defend his race win, but then it’s off to Penske Racing for 2010 and beyond.

As has been the case almost every time he got behind the wheel of a Hendrick Cup car, Keselowski's last ride in a Hendrick car was strong and he finished 12th.

The fact that Keselowski did so well in that car despite it being an R&D car that isn’t expected to do much underlies a point that I’m sure isn’t lost on the Hendrick team: They should be kicking themselves for letting Keselowski go, and will be sorry they lost him as they watch him possibly develop into a star at Penske.

In the back of his mind, though, I’m pretty sure Hendrick has a plan to get Keselowki back in the future. Brad will be forever indebted to Hendrick for all the help he’s given him in getting his career started, so if an offer comes several years down the road, don’t be surprised if he considers jumping back to his old team when his contract runs out.

No one knows how Keselowski’s time at the Penske team will pan out, and it’s possible he’ll spend the rest of his career at Penske, so all of what I’m about to write is pure speculation. But there are some scenarios that could lure back Keselowski in the future.

For example, let’s say Jeff Gordon announces he’s retiring in three years, just as Keselowski’s Penske contract is running out, and Hendrick offers Brad the #24 car. Pretty tempting offer, wouldn’t you say?

Or let’s say Mark Martin retires in a few years (I mean it has to happen eventually, right?). That #5 car is pretty good, too. And if Mark can win with it, so can Brad.

Then, of course, there’s the possibility Dale Jr. will just get so frustrated with racing that he’ll walk away from driving, and Keselowski can replace the guy who discovered him. Wouldn’t that be ironic?

That last one’s unlikely, but what’s serious is the possibility that Hendrick will try to lure back Keselowski as soon as that becomes a possibility.
He knows how much talent the Michigan native has, and is no doubt angry at himself that he couldn’t figure out a way to keep the young star in the Hendrick fold.

Logano comes of age
While I was watching the exciting conclusion to the Charlotte race Saturday night (the highlight of a mostly uneventful race), I had a bit of a flashback when I saw young Joey Logano battling in the top-5 against veteran Jeff Gordon for position.

I thought back to when Gordon was in Logano’s position in the mid-1990s and was starting to get up to speed and battle a legend like Dale Earnhardt on the track on a regular basis.

It was, in essence, a changing of the guard. Gordon picked up where Big E left off, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Logano goes on to a Gordon-esque career.

He’s only 19 years old, and can race with the best. I can only imagine what he’ll be able to do in a few years.
As is usually the case, the veteran (Gordon) won out in Saturday’s late-race battle, taking fourth while Logano settled for fifth. But it was definitely fun to watch them race, and think about what the future may hold.

Bad luck aplenty
Last week, Denny Hamlin took himself out of the race, and the Chase, with a “rookie mistake”. This week, his car broke, and he’s so far back in the Chase he might as well not be in it.
He wasn’t alone Saturday night in his misfortune. After four Chase top-5 finishes, Juan Pablo Montoya finished 35th and will need a miracle to contend for the title. And the seemingly cursed Dale Earnhardt Jr. had another bad day with more mechanical woes, finishing 38th.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"PREVIEW: DALE EARNHARDT JR. (NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET)
VENUE: LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY (1.5-MILE QUAD-OVAL)
CIRCUIT: NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES (RACE 31 OF 36)
DATE: OCT. 17, 2009 (334 LAPS, 501 MILES)
CHASSIS CHOICE: Interim crew chief Lance McGrew and the No. 88 engineers will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-521 for this weekend's 500-mile event at Lowe's Motor Speedway. This chassis last was raced to a 27th-place finish at Pocono Raceway in June."

That makes this one of the old chassis that Tony Jr. made based on the specs he took from DEI in 2007. But with HMS making chassis for 6 cars you probably can’t expect more than 2 new chassis.
They just said on Race Day that Kevin Harvick wants out of his ride, NOW. Maybe he and Jr. could just switch...? Marybeth

October 18, 2009 at 4:17 PM 

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