COMMENTARY | Another race, another Hendrick win.
It is a reoccurring theme that has fans of one of the Hendrick boys rejoicing while the rest of the NASCAR world moans and is left asking, once again, when will the madness end?
As I watched Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon do battle over the final laps at Pocono on Sunday, I couldn't help but marvel at yet another Hendrick commanded race and at the same time reflect on the sheer dominance the team has enjoyed over the past two decades.
Pocono was simply a microcosm of the Hendrick story. Johnson dominates at the beginning, Gordon, Kahne and Earnhardt are left battling at the end. Through it all, one theme is evident: Hendrick is simply the best in the business.
Sometimes you just have to remind yourself every time a Johnson, a Gordon or even a Kahne crosses the finish line first, this kind of run doesn't happen every day. And to be honest, in today's world of evenly matched cars, far superior equipment and incredibly talented drivers, it shouldn't be possible in the first place.
No, what we are witnessing right now, each and every time these cars take to the track, is history. We are witnessing a history so great that our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will be talking about these days in the same way that we speak of the Richard Pettys and Dale Earnhardts of the world today.
Make no mistake about it, Hendrick Motorsports is simply the top dog in all of NASCAR. And, perhaps, in all of auto racing.
Everyone knows of the five-year run by Jimmie Johnson, the four championships and utter dominance of Jeff Gordon in the '90s and all of the other major names that have walked the halls of the 100-acre Hendrick Motorsports complex in Concord, N.C., over the years. But how deep do the stats really go?
With Kahne's win on Sunday, Hendrick Motorsports has now amassed 215 career victories at NASCAR's top level, among those seven Daytona 500s and eight wins at the Brickyard. They have also won 10 of the last 18 Sprint Cup championships. Think about that for a moment. Between Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Terry Labonte, 10 of the last 18 years a Hendrick driver has taken home the sports top prize. Heck, in 2009, Hendrick was so greedy that his drivers took all three spots at the top of the standings.
Love him or hate him, Hendrick and his merry band of race winners are the pinnacle of Sprint Cup competition today. Everyone else is just trying to keep up.
It doesn't matter who is behind the wheel. From Gordon and Johnson to Labonte, Kahne, Mark Martin, Kyle Busch, Geoff Bodine, Ricky Rudd, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr., the list goes on and on, and Hendrick gets it done. In all, 16 different drivers have won in Hendrick equipment since the team was founded in 1984.
And right now you could argue Hendrick has his best lineup yet. Between Johnson, Gordon, Earnhardt and Kahne, I encourage you to try and find a better lineup in all of racing. Yeah, that's what I thought, you can't. NASCAR has some of the biggest fields, the closest racing and the best drivers in all of motorsports, yet one team is managing to get it done week after week.
What else can you say?
While Johnson was in the midst of winning his five championships in a row, I distinctly remember turning to my wife and telling her, "This is something NASCAR fans are going to be talking about for as long as there is a NASCAR."
So sure, hate on the No. 48 team every time they visit the winners circle as they have done 64 times in the last 14 years, or roll your eyes when Kahne, Gordon and Earnhardt all finish in the top five. But make no mistake about it, this is truly something to be witnessing.
Hendrick Motorsports is a dynasty the likes of which we may never see again.
L.A. Crum is a professional writer and journalist from Ohio. He is an avid fan of motorsports and college athletics and has worked with many of the top teams and drivers in the racing industry during his decade long career. He is a proud graduate of Marshall University.
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Jeff Gordon
- Hendrick Motorsports
- Kasey Kahne
- Jimmie Johnson