Meet Hendrick Motorsports, the opposite of the Detroit Lions
-- The points leader is Mark Martin, Hendrick Motorsports driver.
-- 2nd in points, just 10 out, is 3-time defending champ, also with Hendrick.
-- In 5th and 7th, with Hendrick support, are the two Stewart-Haas cars of Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman.
-- Jeff Gordon jumps two spots to 8th after Dover, and is only 122 points out, still a legitimate title contender.
If you do the math, 5 of the top 8 championship contenders in points are either Hendrick drivers or have Hendrick connections.
With those odds, I think we can all see where this is going. I don’t work in Vegas, but I’m guessing the odds on Johnson taking a fourth straight title are something like 1:1. And if he doesn’t, the money has to be on another of the Hendrick-connected cars.
Kurt Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya and Denny Hamlin will do their best to spoil the Hendrick party, but the odds are stacked against them. Their teams are just not as strong as Hendrick, even if they’ve all been solid this year.
The Hendrick team has dominated the sport for the past 15 years, winning more than half the titles. They are the Evil Empire in NASCAR. Just like almost everyone hates the Yankees, almost everyone roots for Hendrick to lose. Sometimes, another team, like Roush or Gibbs, will break through and take a title.
But in the end, the Evil Empire usually roars back. The team with the most resources, the best cooperation between teams, the best talent, etc. is the logical favorite, no matter how much they are despised. If you don’t believe me, just look what has happened the past three seasons.
As much as NASCAR wanted the Chase to create more parity, it simply hasn’t happened. But I don’t fault the Chase for this Hendrick domination. I don’t think there is a format that could contain Jimmie Johnson or Mark Martin in Hendrick equipment.
To use a Detroit analogy, waiting for Hendrick to lose a title is a lot like the wait that just ended for the Lions to win a football game. It had to happen eventually, but there was no guarantee it was going to happen anytime soon.
Logano goes on wild ride
One of the few moments in Sunday’s sedate race at Dover that woke me up from my slumber was when Joey Logano went on a wild ride, tumbling end over end about seven times in what was easily the toughest wreck of his young career. He said he was OK, but shaken, after the incident.
Get used to it, Joey. It won’t be the last. Lucky for you that you came into the sport after all the safety changes were made.
Even the scariest wrecks rarely see a driver get hurt nowadays. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it, and even violent wrecks like the one Michael McDowell had at Texas last year don’t have much effect on a driver’s health.